I am a self-proclaimed nail polish addict. I have so many bottles, stashed in various places around my house that I have been known to buy the same bottle (sometimes more than twice) simply because I forgot I already had it.
Clearly, I need to organize things better. But that’s another blog post.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite manicure and pedicure tips. I have been practicing for years to achieve the perfect manicure – in part because I live by the adage that if I can do it myself, why pay for it (I would rather use the money for something else…..like shoes!). It’s also partly because I was raised by a mother who possesses both impeccable handwriting and impeccable nails, the latter of which she usually did herself. We were both victims of the nail biting habit and both dropped it because of men – her, because it was the only way my father would propose marriage (a clever way of getting her to stop, well done, Dad), and me, because I suddenly realized while chewing on my nails and staring at the hot guy in my university English class, that I looked just a little bit silly. Habit broken (for the most part).
Once I stopped the biting, I started practicing and over the years, I’ve had lots of comments and questions about my nails, so here are some of the tricks and tips that I use when giving myself an at-home manicure or pedicure.
- Remove any trace of old nail polish by using a moisturizing nail polish remover. I like Sally Hansen Salon Formula for Sensitive Nails. Resist the urge to wash your hands after using the remover because the water will affect how the polish adheres to your nails. If you absolutely cannot stand the way your nails feel after the remover, I would take it off a couple of hours before you plan to paint your nails, so as to allow the nails to fully dry. (Thanks to my friend Rania for this tip – I was doing it wrong for years before she let me in on that secret!)
- Carefully (and very gently) push back your cuticles using a good quality orange wood stick to create an even shape at the base of the nail. Or, if you are like me, you won’t be gentle at all, you’ll push at those suckers, be mad that they are so stubborn and then whip out your cuticle trimmers to chop them off.
(In all seriousness, I DO NOT recommend this at all, nor will any good nail professional, but if, like me, you’ve been doing just that for years, you will find it hard to stop. One habit at a time……)
Because working with the cuticles is sometimes easier when they are damp, if you have the time to do so, I would do step one and two a couple of hours before you apply the polish.
- Buff your nails to smooth our any ridges, edges or bumps and give your nail a smoother surface for the polish. If you have a lot of ridges in your nails, use a good ridge filler as a base coat at step four. I highly recommend Seche Base Ridge Filling Base Coat. This stuff is amazing, especially under creamy pastel colours or nudes, which can be finicky and streaky. I put two coats of the Seche Base under my favourite white polish – the base is so good that I only need one coat of the polish for a clean and streak-free look. Both buffing the nails and a good ridge filling base coat will allow for a smoother polish application.
As I mentioned above, I love the Seche Base, but really, any good base coat will do to help make your polish last. They are typically quick drying and will give your manicure some longevity. Apply it at this point.
- Once the base coat is dry, apply two coats of your chosen colour, allowing at least ten minutes in between for each coat to dry. This is particularly important for opaque pastels and nudes, as they have a very annoying tendency to streak (which drives me mad!). Always start by painting the nails on your dominant hand first. It may seem counter-intuitive, but trust me, you want to paint your strongest hand first. The more you practice, the easier it will be to do this. At this point, you can use some type of drying drops (Nicole by OPI, Essie and OPI all have some good ones) to speed the drying process along. I am a big fan of these because I hate waiting for my nails to dry and I have a five year old. Enough said.
Practice this step as much as possible, even if you don’t keep the colour on. It’s true that practice makes perfect. To clean up any bits that get in your cuticles, wrap a small amount of cotton ball around the sharp end of your orange wood stick and dip it in polish remover, then carefully trace around the area where the polish has spread to clean it up.
- Once the polish is dry, apply a top coat to seal the colour and give you a glossy shine.
- Once the top coat is dry, I also recommend rubbing a bit of coconut oil on your hands, working it into your cuticles. Coconut oil is amazing and will prevent the cuticles from drying out too quickly, which can make even a perfect manicure look less than stellar. Also, wear rubber gloves as much as possible for cleaning, doing dishes, etc. Not only does the detergent dry out your hands and cuticles, it can reduce the lifespan of your manicure. And you worked hard at that!
Follow these steps for the perfect pedicure as well!
As for polishes, some of my favourites brands are Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (I practically live in this stuff, it really does last as well as it claims), Essie, OPI, Butter London and China Glaze. One other thing to remember is not to shake your polish bottle if it hasn’t been used for a while, as this will cause nasty looking air bubbles. Instead, rub the bottle slowly between your palms to redistribute the product without adding air. To prevent air bubbles with you are applying the polish, I also recommend not putting on too thick a coat of polish. You are better off putting on three thin coats, rather than two thicker ones for a more smooth and professional looking finish.
If you have any other tips or tricks for the perfect at home manicure or pedicure, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what other people are trying!
Enjoy the pretty things in life,