Everyone loves the feeling of a salon fresh, perfect manicure. However, when we try to achieve the same at home ourselves it can sometimes tend to look a little less than perfect. I have put together a step by step guide on how to achieve the same results as you would get in a salon, having you on your way to painting like a pro in no time.
- Prep Your Hands. Begin by soaking your hands in a bowl of soapy, warm water for 5 minutes, this will clean the hands and soften the cuticle area. Use a good hand scrub to get rid of any hard, dry skin and pat dry.
- Prep Your Nails. Now your cuticles are softened, gently push them back (I have another blog post with all the information on treating your cuticles properly). Next, file the nails into shape with a crystal or glass file; this should be done in a gentle manner, going in one direction. Remove any oil, dust, dirt or polish residue from the nail using some non-acetone nail polish remover.
- Create a Firm Foundation. You need something on the nail which will protect it from staining. You also need to create an anchor for the polish to adhere to. This is were a base coat comes into play! Choose one that is specific, stating that it is a base coat. (As top/base coat combined products are not as effective and the wear time of your polish will not be very long.)
- Prep The Polish. Nail polish has a tendency to settle and/or separate. The polish needs to be agitated. However, do not shake the bottle as this creates bubbles in the polish which transfer onto the nail and look uneven and peel the polish easily. Instead roll the polish in the palms of your hands gently, until the polish is well mixed and ready to use.
- Apply Thin Coats. When you apply the polish, think of a three stroke rule. Start in the centre, and in one motion go from base to tip. Then one side and then the other. Apply the polish in thin coats, this will dry faster and more evenly. The thicker the coat, the longer the drying time, meaning smudges and smearing can occur more easily. You may think one thick coat will save you time if you’re in a rush, but it can tend to look patchy, uneven and ill done. Always remember to seal the tips of the nail, glide the edge of the brush along the tip; this will prevent chipping at the tips of your nails.
- Protect It. Now you have a smooth and evenly painted manicure, you need to protect it. This is were a top coat comes into play. A top coat will seal the polish onto the nail, meaning longer wear time for your nail polish and less chipping and peeling. Look out for a top coat that is designed as just this, the combined base/top coats are not designed to seal the nail properly. If you can avoid the fast drying top coats do, as these have a tendency to dry the nails out making them brittle.
- Clean Up. Next you need to do a clean up of any polish that strayed onto the cuticle or skin area. The cuticles need to breathe in order to be healthy. Look for a flat, small paint brush/ make-up brush/ or nail brush. Dip the brush into polish remover and go around the nail to get any polish off and to tidy up the edge of the polish near the cuticle; giving it a nice, crisp, even finish.
- Quench the thirst. All the chemicals we use on our hands and nails can tend to dry them out and dry nails are weak, brittle and prone to peeling. So use a good hand lotion afterwards. Also add an oil to the nail and cuticle area. This can be a good way to protect the nail as it is drying. The oil will act as a barrier, so if the nail is still drying and your nails go against something they will not stick or smudge, it will glide off due to the oil.
Finally, enjoy your beautiful nails. No one is a professional as soon as they start but with practice and these steps, you can hopefully achieve a standard that you are happy with.
I hope that these steps have helped you to get a salon like manicure at home. I also hope you enjoyed reading them and have learned something new from these. If you have not don’t worry, you may already know how to create the look or just need a little more practice, don’t give up – beautiful nails take time.