April 9, 2014

How To Get a Fresh Manicure At Home

I love an occasional trip to the salon to get a mani/pedi with girlfriends, but most of the time I prefer to do it myself at home. I find the process oddly soothing and like that if I get sick of the color I've chosen, I can switch it up when I want. Of course some ambidextrous skills are necessary when priming and painting your opposite hand, but practice goes a long way.

 Get your supplies together
To give yourself a gorgeous manicure, make sure you have all the right supplies. You might have to spend a bit up front, but next time you want to paint your nails, you'll already be covered. Get the following products:
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs
  • Cuticle trimmer
  • Nail buffer
  • Nail trimmers
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle or hand cream
  • Nail polish
  • Base coat
  • Top coat
Remove your old nail polish

Use nail polish remover and cotton balls or swabs. Some kinds of nail polish remover may dry the areas on your nails and around them. You may wish to find one that doesn't do this as much, but do not be concerned unless you have a severe allergic reaction.
  • If you have and wish to keep fake nails, such as acrylic, choose a polish that will not remove them, and don't let it soak much.
  • Unless you use it once a month or less, don't use a nail polish remover with acetone in it. Though acetone will make removing the nail polish easier, it can damage the nails themselves.

Cut nails n File Nails

 I typically keep mine pretty short and stick to a round shape that mirrors the curve at the base of my nails.
Using a nail file, file the nail and create a smooth and clean shape. Gently drag the file across the nail, rather than pushing it. Excessive force or sawing back and forth will weaken the nails and cause them to break. Pivot the hand with the file through each stroke to make a smooth curve rather than angles. Do not file them too short: just clean up any points or roughness left by the clippers.
  • If you want to remove fake nails, perhaps because they look odd from having grown out too far.
  • Do not round the corners down into the sides of the nail bed. This can cause the nail to become ingrown. Be particularly careful with the big toe, which, perhaps due to shoes, is more prone to ingrowing.
Buff your nails

Using a white block of a stick-type nail buffer, or a pad-type nail buffer and buffing powder, buff the surface of the nail a little bit to even out the surface and to smooth out ridges. Remember not to buff too much; thinning it too much will weaken it. Perfect edge-to-edge flatness is not practical or necessary. A soft, flexible buffer will more easily buff the sides of the nail along with the middle.
  • You may wish to buff your nails after pushing back the cuticles if there is some residue where the cuticles used to cover, in order to scrape or grind it off in the process. Being thin, soft, and not firmly attached, it should come off easily.

Cuticle softener

Especially in colder months, a cuticle softener is great for keeping your hands looking their best. I follow it up by going over my nails with polish remover, just so that none of the oil seeps into the polish.

Apply hand cream or lotion

Take a lotion or hand cream and massage it into your hands. If you have very dry skin use an intensive lotion, if not, any lotion will do. Be sure to rub it into and around your nails and let it soak in for 30 minutes or longer.
  • This is as well done after painting the nails and allowing them to dry thoroughly as before painting. For very dry skin, apply some greasy lotion and sleep with cheap cotton gloves over your hands to allow it to remain on and work for a long time without keeping you from productive activities.
  • Nail polish/lacquer will not stick to nails with moisturizer on them, so take a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover and quickly wipe the nails to remove the lotion. Wipe excess remover off promptly to mitigate nail damage.
Apply the base coat

Cover the nail with a clear base coat or nail hardener. This will even out and ridges and unevenness that may still be on the nail, serve as a primer for the polish, help the polish to last longer, and keep the colour from staining your nails.
  • This is the point at which you'd apply fake nails if you like.
  • Let the coat completely dry before proceeding.

Polish your nails

Pick a nail polish that you really like. Roll the nail polish bottle between your hands for about 10 seconds. Shaking the bottle causes air bubbles in the polish and makes harder for the polish to stick to your nails. Begin painting nails using a thin coat. Dip the brush into the bottle of polish and as you remove it, gently swirl the brush around the inside rim of the bottle to remove excess polish. Slowly paint a vertical stripe down the center of your nail, followed by another stripe on either side of the first. Try to paint all the way to the edge, but it's better to leave a small margin than paint the skin on the side.
  • Angle the brush a little forward, press gently so the bristles spread out a little into a neat curve, and drag it gently and smoothly across the nail to paint it. Do not apply a blob of paint to the nail and spread it around. Blobs or runs mean too much paint or painting too slowly; subtle ridges should smooth themselves out under gravity (self-level) but very-thin spots mean too little paint or too much pressure.
  • Fancy designs can be difficult, so stick with simple if it's important to get a good result the first time.
  • If there is a little bit of nail polish on your fingers or around you nail you can use a toothpick (flat, not round and pointy, is generally best) to get it off if it's still wet. If it's already dry, dip a Q-tip in nail polish remover and wipe it away, or use a nail touch up pen, sold at most drugstores. Be careful not to touch the actual nail with the Q-tip or touch up pen, or you will have to redo that nail.
Let your nails dry

Try not to move your nails too much or the polish may smudge. Wait 10 to 15 minutes for the polish to dry. If you apply a second coat too soon, it will only smudge the first coat. You may be able to speed drying with a fan, but don't be overly optimistic. By blowing the fumes away, the fan will remove one reminder of continuing wetness.
  • After the first coat has dried, apply a second coat if you'd like. This ensures the color looks rich and even.
  • After the color coats have dried, you may add designs, by brush, airbrush mask or stencil, decal, rhinestones, or otherwise.
  • Skipping the base coat, or even applying only one color coat (depending on the kind of polish and application technique; some give or appear to give more even color with uneven thickness than others), will often give acceptable results. However, extra layers add a little extra to initial surface quality.
Apply the top coat

Finish with a clear top coat for a hard, smooth, scratch-absorbing, chip and flake-resistant shield particularly important for designs that don't cover the entire nail, as well as adding shine. Let it dry completely Have fun and enjoy your newly beautiful nails!

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