A manicure completes a woman’s look, helping her feel her best. Manicures done at home are not expensive and believe it or not can be a relaxing time for yourself. A quality at-home manicure just takes a little practice.
Follow these eight steps for gorgeous nails.
1. Remove old polish. Acetone-based remover on a cotton ball or pad works best, but ethyl-acetate removers are less drying to nails. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
2. Shape your nails. Using an emery board or glass file, swipe nails from one edge toward the center and then from the other edge toward the center until you have the shape you want. A slightly squared oval is a strong and versatile shape.
3. Tame your cuticles. Rub a little oil (olive or jojoba oil works well) on them, and then push them back gently with a soft cuticle stick or a wooden orange stick wrapped with a piece of cotton ball or gauze. Do not cut cuticles even if they look thick or ragged. Instead, start a maintenance program where you push them back gently after every shower. In a few weeks, they’ll look neat and healthy.
4. Prepare your nail surface. Use a cotton ball dipped in alcohol or polish remover to get rid of any excess oil that will prevent your polish from sticking.
5. Apply a clear base coat. Don’t substitute a regular clear polish for this step. A real base coat is formulated differently than polish, so it adheres better to your nail and the polish you put on top. Let it dry thoroughly.
6. Polish. Use two thin coats, which allow the solvents in the polish to evaporate better than one thick coat, resulting in fewer chips and smudges. Apply polish starting with your pinkie nail and working toward your thumb, so you’re moving wet nails out of the way as you work. Use three strokes per nail: one down each side and one down the center. Let dry for at least five minutes between coats.
7. Apply a top coat. A top coat is also different from regular polish. It’s harder and very shiny. Wait at least 10 minutes before trying to do anything.
8. Fix errors. Remove any polish you got on skin with a Q-tip or cotton-wrapped orange stick dipped in polish remover. Be careful not to touch your nails.
To maintain your new at-home manicure, wait 24 hours and apply a second top coat. Then reapply the top coat every two to three days to keep manicure looking fresh. Also, apply oil to cuticles and nails every night before going to bed to keep them moisturized.
You might have to practice a few times, but soon you’ll be giving yourself professional-looking, at-home manicures.
Sample of an at-home manicure.