Saturday, February 25, 2012

How To: Perfect Manicure Step by Step

I've been painting my nails for years now. I've been following different nail polish blogs, read a few nail articles and I gathered all this information, techiques and products throughout this time. You wanted it, you got it! Here's my guide on how to do a manicure.

Some ladies do their nails by themselves, some ladies ask their friends to do their nails for them and some ladies go to the salon. Well, you don't need to go to the salon to get your nails in shape. You just need some time, follow a few tips and remember - practice makes perfect. You also don't need to spend a ton of money on gel nails or acrylics (at least most people don't). Sure, they look nice right after they're done (if they're done right, which is quite often not the case), but think of your poor nails after your take them off. Ouch! I encourage you to work with what you've got. And keep in mind - it's just nails. Don't take it too seriously. Play around and have fun!

Once again: this is how I do it. It's like a pirate's code - is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. ;)

How To: Perfect Manicure Step by Step

1) File

Filing and shaping your nails. This might sound a bit odd, but I find it easiest to file my nails while I still have my nail polish on. Especially when I'm wearing a dark colored polish. The shape just looks better if I do it this way. I suggest you to invest in a quality glass/crystal file - it will last a lifetime. Unless you break it. It's best to file your nails in one direction only, to prevent the nails from tearing. I use a small (3.5 inches long) glass file I got off Ebay. It's a cheap one, but it works great.


2) Remove Nail Polish

Removing old nail polish is the easy part. Soak a cotton/felt pad with nail polish remover, place the pad onto your nail, press gently and hold it for a couple of seconds and then wipe the polish off towards the nail tip. You can use a foil techique for glitter nail polish which is harder to remove. I use regular cotton pads and Essence acetone free nail polish remover.


3) Remove Cuticles

Removing cuticles is important and can also get tricky. I advise you to use liquid products for this step instead of tools. Cutting cuticles will give you a good result right away, but they will start growing back real soon and try to protect your nails even more. That's a circle ride that's hard to get off of. I use Blue Cross Cuticle Remover - it's easy to use, it's quick, safe and it works! I've also heard good things about the Sally Hansen and Mavala cuticle removers. After your dried up cuticles are removed, wash your hands, dry them up and gently push the cuticles back.


4) Paint Your Nails

Painting your nails is the hardest step for most ladies. It takes a steady hand and some practice, but you CAN do it just like a pro. Or even better.

1. Base coat - You don't have to use a base coat and if I'm honest, I often skip this step. Base coat comes in really handy if you have visible ridges on your nails or if you're using a nail polish that could stain your nails. My main problem are the ridges. That's why I love my NailTek Foundation II base coat. It does a good job at preventing my nails from nail polish staining as well. So, whenever you're planning on using a green or blue nail polish (these colors stain the most) - apply a layer of base coat first. Just in case.

2. Nail polish - This is the tricky part. You need enough of polish on your brush to paint your nails, but not too much so it doesn't flood your cuticles. Start by placing the brush in the middle of your nail, close to the cuticles but not too close. Push the polish drop towards the cuticles and then back towards the nail tip. Try to pain your nail in 3 moves, starting in the middle and ending with the sides.
Wait for the first coat of polish to dry and apply a second one. Some of the polishes are completely opaque in one coat, but they look much better when a second coat is applied. It gives a certain depth to the color. If you need more than two coats, I advise you to search for a color dupe - there are many brands out there and a ton of colors to choose frome.

3. Top coat - This is another step you don't need to take, but it can make your manicure look much prettier and/or dry faster. There's a lot of top coats to choose from: glossy, fast drying, long lasting, scented ... but not all of them work the same on different people. Find out what works for you. My favorite fast drying polish is Seche Vite. I also like Essence Nail Art Sealing Top Coat a lot.


5) Clean-up

Clean-up comes in handy for the ladies who want their manicure to look impecable. So, your hands weren't as steady as you wanted them to be or you just managed to paint your cuticles as well? Don't worry. A flat, stiff brush dipped in nail polish remover will take care of that. I use Lefranc & Bourgeois art brush 4300B in size 2. Slovenian ladies can buy it for €2.14 in Art stores.


6) Show Your Cuticle Some Love

Cuticles need some love. Nail polish remover can dry the skin out, especially if it contains acetone. Use almond/olive oil or hand cream to moisture your hands. This will also take care of dry cuticles. You can also use products designed especially for cuticles - cuticle oil, cuticle pencils... I use Essence Cuticle Softener Pencil (on photo above) and regular almond oil.

REMEMBER: Nails change. They can be affected by illness, seasons, food you're eating, work you're doing... Try wearing gloves when doing chores around the house (dish washing, yard work, cleaning). If you're not comfortable wearing gloves, keep your nails polished when you're soaking your hands in water - nail polish will protect the nails. As hard as this is, try not to use your nails as tools. If you have a certain problem with your nails, use a product designed for that problem - the market is full of nail hardeners, whiteners, anti-splitting treatments etc.

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USEFUL TIPS:

* Go to the toilet before polishing your nails. It might sound funny, but it's important and if you don't trust me now, you'll regret it later (with all the dents in your fresh manicure). XD Here's a blog of a lady who knows this tip very well - Pee Before Polish.

* Paint your dominant hand first. I'm not sure why, but it works and my mani looks better if I start with painting my right hand first.

* Take your time, steady your hands/lean them on a table. Let the brush do the work for you - spread it over your nail, use slow motions. Moving your hand instead of the brush works well for some people.

* Nail polish doesn't harm your nails. Nails aren't alive and they don't need to 'breathe'. I find my nails stronger and longer if I keep them polished at all times. Beware of the bad chemicals though (most of them are banned in EU anyway), since some of them can cause health problems. Nails are made of keratin (like hair) and the chemicals can be absorbed into your body. At such small amounts you shouldn't have any health issues, but better to be safe than sorry. Paint your nails in a well ventilated room.

* Taking biotin supplements can help you with the super thin and brittle nails.

* If your nails are long and one of your nails breaks, just file them all down. Nails are much prettier when they're all at the same length. They'll grow back sooner or later.

* Buffing the surface of your nails can help you get rid of the ridges, but this will also weaken your nails. If you must do this, make sure to not over-buff. Do it only once a month or less! I use Essence 4 in 1 nail file for buffing.

***

So, this is it. All my nail wisdom in one place. Hopefully, you'll find it useful.

Did I leave anything out?

Thanks for looking and commenting!

44 comments:

  1. Hvala ti za tako uporaben post! Večino informacij sem že poznala, ampak fino jih je videti na enem mestu. :)

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  2. Res super članek! Ni si težko zapomniti teh stvari, težje se jih je držati -.- No ja, zdaj, ko prihaja pomlad in sonce imam več veselja do nohtov. :D Sploh zadje čase, odkar imam novo stekleno pilico - prejšnja od Elite je bila dr*k, po petih uporabah je bila čisto gladka. :(

    Joj, z wc-jem pred lakiranje se pa ne morem stinjati bolj xD VEČEN problem ><

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  3. Nice tips Sasha!
    I will try to not forget them and I think I will get a glassfile now (I always used those paper files and I had to throw them away after a few weeks and they are not hygienic at all, because you can not sterilize them. I think this will work great with a glassfile.

    Thanks =)

    Lala

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  4. Ahhhhmmmmaaaaaazzzzziiinnnggggg. I've read all your previous tips but LOVE your definitive guide. I find it reassuring because I do pretty much all these steps but I'm still not as good as you so I think it's a case of MY level of skill not being good enough and not my tools. Just means I have to practice more. What a shame :D thank you xxxx

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  5. Ful praktični nasveti. Že nekaj časa sem želela prebrati takšen blog. Hvala ti :) xo,Deja

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  6. Excellent how-to post. I can tell it's going to be a go-to post for many ladies.

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  7. Ah, really helpful post, thank you for sharing your tips!

    xo

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  8. Very useful guidelines! My routine is quite similar to yours, even if I must admit that I never do clean-up (ops!), I'm too lazy. :D
    Moreover, I lost my glass file some months ago (again - ops!). It was a file by Kiko, it's quite cheap - I think I paid around 3€ for it. Actually I'm using the famous Essence 6-in-1 file.
    And thank you sooooo much for the "nomination" of my blog, too! :))) *blushing*

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  9. bravo, sve na jednom mjestu, koristan post :-D
    i da, slomila sam već dvije staklene turpije :-(

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  10. Thank you for this. I never thought about filing my nails before removing my polish. Also, I really do need to be nicer to my cuticles. I'll be coming back to these tips in the future.

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  11. I am so glad that I found your blog!!! I have a huge event to go to tonight and I am getting ready to do my nails, perfect post! And I found my ideas for my make-up from you too!

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad as well. =) I just took a look on your blog earlier today. You have a lovely family! =) Plus, you're super cute!

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  12. Great post! I will buy a glass file, I didn't realize that was so important!

    I do find base coat helpful though - I have a problem with my nail polish peeling, and a sticky-type base coat (I use Essie First Base) really helps the nail polish adhere to the nail.

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  13. Very useful article! Thank you.

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  14. uuuuu hvala za tale post, ga bom dala med najbolj favourite možno, hihi :D super, da si napisala tudi, katere izdelke uporabljaš, ker ponavadi se mi ravno pri izbiri zalomi!

    in luštkan Johnny Depp, mislim Jack Sparrow quote, hihi :)))

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  15. Great post. I do all of the same things. Your so right to pee first! I've ruined a couple of nails from forgetting to do just that. I always wear base and top coat. I still am not a good nail painter. I always have a lot of clean up to do. You'd think after all these years I'd be an expert. I find it much easier when my nails are longer. Polish doesn't get all over the sides of my nails. They're rarely long though. I always have to clean up. Dark nail polish I'm really bad at. It's also the toughest to get off.

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  16. Nice post! LOL with "cuticles need some love" but it's really true. I love mine and hydrate them regularly.

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  17. Excellent tips! For the longest time, I was stubborn and didn't listen to the "don't use your nails as tools" rule and it definitely showed. For the past few months, I've made a conscious effort to stop using my nails to open cans, peel stickers and other things that can be harmful to them...and I've actually noticed a difference. I haven't had a break since then and I've had less chipping on manicures.

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  18. I use plant oils not only on my cuticles but on my nails, too - if I don't do that regularly, they start to split.

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  19. Pee before polish, so true!! lol! And start with your dominant hand is somenthing that really changed my mani results, that way I'm more careful and my right hand is dry a little sooner so I don't ruin it by mistake.

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  20. Love posts like these! I file with polish on too. I have a couple really funky nails that don't grow strait, so if I file without polish on, they aren't even. And I couldn't agree more about nail breaks. I hate to see different nail length's, and I am so anal about mine...it drives me nuts if one of my nails is a tiny bit longer than the others.

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  21. Very useful, thanks. I use the same base coat. But I really need something that will make my nails stronger, they peel/split really badly.

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  22. Oooh I loved this post so much hun! Your nails always look amazing, I'm so glad you shared your tips (:

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  23. Great detailed post! Like you say, there really aren't "rules" to a good manicure, but a few guidelines are certainly helpful! I always find it so fascinating to see other ladies' step-by-steps; we all take slightly different measures to help us achieve the same result!

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  24. Thank you for writing this - I find myself constantly drooling over your nails. They truly are perfection! On another note, I'm really sorry for your loss:/ Hope you're doing ok.

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  25. Really awesome post. Thank you
    I use base only with blue or very dark polishes because if I don't use it after removing polish my nails look like from B zombie movie :)

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  26. i actually prefer painting with my non-dominant hand first! i used to start with my dominant hand first, but my non-dominant hand was too shaky and tended to bump into things.. wrecking the polish. lol.

    my non-dom hand has gotten much more stable since then, but i guess it's habitual for me to start painting with it first! (:

    thanks for the tips!

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  27. Thanks for that post, even after years of painting my nails, I like to read and take tips from fellow bloggers. I also adopted the trick of painting my dominant hand first, it does work super well (be it only because if I make a small mistake on my right hand - which is more likely to happen - I can correct it right away with my unpainted left fingers), and I coupled it with another trick I seldom hear about: I start with my pinkie and go down do my thumb, meaning I don't have to bring my hand over my freshly painted nails to do all the fingers. And incidentally, my pinkies being my smaller nails, it's easier to assess the consistency and opacity of a polish on the pinkie and then I can adjust the quantity of polish needed for the bigger nails.

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  28. What polish did you use for this post?

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    Replies
    1. The first one is a England Bridal Veil and the second one is Essence Paradelade.

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  29. Very good and helpful giude (wish I had read it 10 years ago :D) :) If I'd got a dollar for every time someone asked me to help them peel an orange or something using my long nails, I'd be superrich by now. Seriously - nails are not a tool!

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  30. 'Pee Before Polish' je koristen, če ne celo najboljši nasvet, ki ga upoštevam že dalj časa ;)
    Tole, da si najprej nalakiraš dominantno roko sem pa nekje že prebrala (mogoče celo na tvojem blogu) in je briljanten nasvet, se mi zdi da desna roka izgleda celo lepše ;) (svetujem vsem)

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  31. I'll treasure your advice about using an art brush to correct any errors :D
    I was just wondering about how to do it without removing part of my painted nail as well!
    Thanks a lot..you work is so precious!!!!

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  32. This is really great tutorial! Thank you! Especially I will try the idea with the flat brush! Thx once more!

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  33. Hi! Can you tell me where can i get Blue Cross Cuticle Remover? Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I don't know where you're from... But I got my Blue Cross CR via Ebay.

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    2. Thank you! I'm from Zagreb btw :)

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  34. Thats super helpful! I need to get a little clean-up brush, that'll help a bunch. I would add use great lighting too, I have done some midnight manicures that didn't look so wonderful in the am, eeew!

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  35. Very helpful - especially your tip to paint the dominant hand first, hardly any clean-up needed anymore!!!!! Thank you!!! Christine - switzerland

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  36. Awesome tips! Thank you so much for writing this post.

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  37. Thank you so much for this! I was pretty much doing everything stated, except, like some others have stated, I need to get myself a crystal file. I have a stone (I think that's what it was!) one before, but my dog chewed it, and broke it! ha ha ha...So I'm going to get another, also, the cuticle remover tip was very helpful. I have been "pushing" my cuticles, but that was it. I am now using a remover. One by Sally Hansen. Cuticles are looking mucho better!! :D Thanks so much for this step-by-step!!!

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  38. This is such a great post. I've read this so many times already, still learning from it!

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  39. Thanks for this..! I need srs help with my cuticles, and I have to break the nipper addiction.. Will try the blue cross remover...

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