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
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.
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.
* 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!