Beauty School: DIY Manicures

We get such a boost walking around with a perfect manicure. We hold our coffee cups differently, type with more of an air (like we're in the montage of a chick flick), and generally flash our hands around a lot just get get a glimpse of shiny, glossy, colour. It's a real Treat. Given that we have quite the stash of nail lacquer, we thought it was about time to give you the tools to get the job done yourself. Here are 5 tips for doing a pro DIY manicure.

1/ Trim dry nails
Always cut your nails when they are bone dry. Don’t grab the clippers and start snipping nails when they are wet, like for example, after the shower, or after doing the dishes. Do it before or wait until nails have dried completly. When nails are wet, they absorb water and are more pliable, so if you cut them at this time, they may splinter or break. This is especially important if you have brittle nails or your nails tend to chip or crack easily.

2/ Careful with cuticles
Your cuticles are vitally important to the health of your nail. They are what protect the growth area, so it's essential to be gentle. To keep cuticles healthy, massage with a little oil such as olive oil or avocado oil, then, using an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton, gently push toward the base of the nail, scraping up and away any dead or whitish cuticle. (You can tell what part of the cuticle is dead as it will roll away with little pressure). Whatever you do, don’t cut cuticles or let anyone cut them. Ever. Also, don't pull or rip them. If you have stubborn or overgrown cuticles, massage with oil before bed each night.

3/ File properly
Use a ceramic or glass nail file and file towards the centre from each side, gently rounding out at the centre. The filing motion should be one directional to the centre, not back and forth and back and forth which can pull, snag, or tear nails. A ceramic or glass file will run more smoothly against the nail, as opposed to a cheap disposable which can be too rough and splinter weak nails.

4/ Use a base coat and top coat
A base coat protects the nail from discolouration and a top coat protects the paint job from too-quick wear and tear. A base coat can also help polish to go on more smoothly as it coats the nail. Some base coats are slightly tacky, which will make polish last longer. Only one coat of base is necessary. A top coat perfects and finishes, keeping polish looking lacquered and extending the life of your manicure.

5/ Apply polish in 3 strokes or less
Here's how to get a smooth, perfect and glossy-looking DIY mani: Make sure the brush is thoroughly covered with polish, then wipe the brush off once on the side of the bottle facing you. Apply starting in the centre of the nail at the base with a small drop of polish, spreading up to the tip of the nail but fanning out slightly to one side. Then go back to the base and spread to the other side. Then brush straight up the centre. (You may even be able to cover the nail in two overlapping strokes on eon each side). Be careful to avoid getting polish on the cuticles or edges where finger meets nail. Let dry slightly, then do the second coat. Two coats should be enough for most polishes.

Bonus Tips:

  • Do your manicure in the evening before bed so it will be set and perfect when you wake up (provided that nails were dry when you hit the hay).
  • To check if nails are dry, gently touch the nails of pinkies together. If they stick a bit they are still wet.
  • Always apply polish to clean, just-washed nails. Any residue or oil on the nail may make polish not stick.
  • To speed up the drying process, run nails under cold water for a minute or so.
  • It usually takes about 20 minutes for nails to be sufficiently dry, so prep for downtime by switching on your favourite show and being handsfree for that time to avoid temptation to try and get something!

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