I’ve been blogging about all things nail-related for more than two years now, and most of the questions I get from readers go back to basics. How do you get the polish so smooth? How do you get it so neat around your cuticles? What’s the secret?
I must’ve painted my nails more than a thousand times in my life, so I suppose if there is a secret, it’s just practice, practice, practice!
To get you started on the practicing, here are the seven steps I take to get a perfect DIY manicure!
Start by washing your hands and giving your nails a good scrubbing with a nail brush. Make sure you completely remove the remnants of your previous manicure.
One trick I use to remove stubborn old polish stuck around my cuticles is to use an old toothbrush dipped in polish remover to scrub it away.
Pushing back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher makes it easier to smoothly paint on your polish without making a mess, and here’s a good bargain on a set from E.L.F.
With a glass nail file, smooth away any snags around your nails, and sculpt them to your favourite shape. Glass nail files are my favourite kind. They work mush faster than other files, and they’re better for your nails.
Apply a base coat to protect your nails, keep them strong, and make your mani last longer.
My all-time favourite base coat is OPI Nail Envy, and before I discovered it, my nails were weak!
I couldn’t grow them out at all because they’d snap and peel all the time, but I’ve been using Nail Envy under every manicure for years now, and my nails are practically diamond hard! It’s a must for anyone whose nails peel or break easily.
Time for the fun part. I start by painting my chosen shade with one stroke down the center, and then another on either side. Today’s polish is a seductive, deep red from Cult Nails called Quench.
This approach may not work for everyone, and it could take a few tries to find a way that works best for you. The key is to take your time for a silky smooth application.
Add a second coat of colour, or as many as you need. Sheerer polishes may need more than two, and with more opaque colours, you might get away with just one.
Add a topcoat for a lasting finish. I use NYC’s In A New York Minute in Grand Central Station.
It’s an absolute godsend! It’s super shiny, and it really does dry in 1 minute, although I normally wait at least an hour before doing anything too rough with my nails. The best part is that it’s less than £2 ($3) a bottle, and you can find it in most drugstores.
This is the step that most people are curious about: the cleanup. I always have a bit of polish left around my cuticles that I’d rather wasn’t there, but nobody’s perfect, and there’s a very simple solution.
Dip a small paintbrush — the teeniest one you can find — into a bottle of acetone or nail polish remover, and run it around your cuticle to clean up the edges and leave you with a nice crisp line.
And those are my seven sacred steps for a perfect DIY manicure! Perfect, that is, if you don’t have the time, or if you’re anything like me, the spare pennies and inclination, to spare a trip to the salon before that big event.