While I love a salon manicure as much as the next person, my bank balance rarely allows me to partake in this particular indulgence. Most of the time, I take care of my own digits, doing my own manicures at home.
A good manicure is an important part in any woman’s grooming ritual. Whether you want to have permanently preened talons or you just want to spruce up your nails for a special occasion, this is the ultimate guide to D.I.Y manicures.
Remove any old nail polish using cotton wool and nail polish remover. I use Cutex Nail Polish Remover with tea tree oil. Use a cotton tip dipped in polish remover to swipe off all the polish around the edges of your nail.
Give your hands a good scrub. Your hands are one of the first parts of your body to begin to show your age, and regular exfoliation will help to slough off dead skin cells and keep your hands looking fresh and smooth. You can use a store-bought scrub, such as In Essence Refining Hand Scrub, or simply mix a teaspoon of sugar with two tablespoons of olive oil, rub vigorously over your mitts and rinse.
Pop a little cuticle balm on your cuticles (the translucent skin around the edges of your nails) and rub it in. Lemony Flutter by Lush is a great product. Then use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles. Never force your cuticles back and stop if it pressure is painful. Never cut your cuticles, or you run the risk of infection.
If you have short nails, carefully trim them with nail scissors. Then, file your nails into the desired shape. I personally prefer to file my nails into a soft oval shape. Use an emery board rather than a metal nail file to avoid breakage. Try to file nails in one direction only to avoid weakening the grain and splitting the nail.
Use a nail buffer to gently remove ridges and dust from your nail. When buffing out ridges, use the roughest side of the buffer and slide it across your nail horizontally. Afterwards, use the smoothest side vertically along your nail to remove dust and buff your nails to a high shine. Try not to buff your nails more than once a week to keep your nails strong. If you don’t like to wear nail polish, buffing is a great way to make your nails look smooth and groomed without painting them.
Apply a rich hand cream all over your hands and rub it in. I love Smitten by Lush. Allow about ten minutes for the cream to sink in before painting, and be sure to rub your nails with a tissue to remove all traces of oil to maintain your polish for longer.
Apply a base coat. I use a basic clear nail polish for this, but if you have problems with weak or brittle nails, Dr LeWinn and Manicare both have great ranges of base coats that treat problem nails. A base coat helps your polish to glide on smoothly, and will protect your nails from staining.
Paint on one very thin coat of coloured nail polish. Start painting at the base of your nail and try to paint all the way to the tip of the nail in one stroke. I try to paint each nail in three strokes, one down the middle of the nail and then one on either side. Remember to paint the thinnest coat possible. Wait at least ten minutes before applying a second coat.
Apply a second colour coat, just as thin as the first. Wait at least ten minutes for this coat to dry.
Apply a top coat to your nails, to give your nails a gloss, enhance the colour of your polish and extend the life of your manicure. Wait twenty minutes before doing anything with your hands.
– choose your nail polish colour carefully. Make sure it suits your skin tone. If you are worried about chips, you do a lot of work with your hands or are time poor, you might want to choose a lighter shade, as any chips will be less noticeable. Bright and dark shades look best on short nails while light colours suit long nails.
– To extend the life of your manicure, wear gloves when cleaning or doing the dishes, and apply a fresh top coat every second day.
– Nail polish need not be expensive. I have tried a myriad of brands, and I often find that some of the cheaper ones are just as good as the pricey polishes. My very favourites are those by Revlon, O.P.I (if you feel like splurging), Avon and Sally Hansen.
– Apply hand cream each night before bed to keep your hands soft and smooth. Apply sunscreen to the backs of your hands each morning to minimise sun damage.