Preparing the nails for a manicure is a key step in ensuring a professional and long lasting finish. It is a step which is often missed because it takes too much time but if you can spare the time, you will notice the difference.
Step 1: Soak your nails for 5-10 minutes in water or use a cuticle remover. This will soften your cuticles making them easier to remove but also avoid the chances of you removing live skin (often mistaken for cuticle). In doing this you will avoid that endless cycle of cuticles growing back more aggressively and being hard.
Step 2: Use an orange wood stick or metal cuticle pusher to gently push cuticles back. However, be sure to scrape the rest of your nail as cuticle also lies on the surface of the entire nail plate.
Step 3: Once your cuticles have been worked on and nails have been filed, wash your hands with soap and water, and thoroughly dry. This deactivates any product or residue on the nail that can act as a barrier.
#2 Base Coat
Using a base coat is a great way to avoid staining on the nails and to give your polish something to adhere to. It is also a good way to ensure a smooth finish, especially if you have some uneven nails or ridges.
#3 Think ‘thin to win’
It is tempting to apply thick coats of polish to the nails as it can mean not having to do two or even three coats to get an opaque finish however, if the polish is applied too thickly, it can take a lot of time to fully dry, and can be more prone to chipping and peeling. Three thing coats is better than one thin coat…
#4 Avoid the cuticle area
It is good practice to leave a slight margin between the polish and the cuticle area as well as the side walls. Too much polish in these areas can not only ‘flood’ them but also lead to peeling as chances are, some of it is on skin instead of nail.
#5 It’s fine to make a mess!
Everyone makes mistakes and it is especially hard to polish both hands equally neatly when doing it on yourself. All you have to do is get an orange wood stick or thin brush dipped in acetone or nail polish remover, and tidy up the edges. Try and avoid cotton buds as not only do their domed ends make it hard to be accurate, but small bits of cotton can transfer to the polish making it hard if not impossible to remove without damage to your hard work.
#6 Fix any scuffs
This is probably my favourite tip – we all know that frustration when you have worked hard to polish your nails, waited for them to dry, only to do something with your hands that causes a scuff and the horrible realisation that you didn’t wait long enough! This is easily fixed. Just get a small amount of nail polish remover onto your finger and gently dab the area that is scuffed. Like magic you will see it disappear and blend back in!
#7 Avoid shaking the bottle
Sometime shaking the nail polish bottle can cause air bubbles which can affect application and also the longevity of the product. Instead of shaking try rolling it in between the palms of your hands while the bottle is upside down. This still mixes the product well but without the risk of air bubbles.
#8 Use the right nail file
Every one has different preferences with nail files – whether they like the traditional emery board style ones, the glass ones, cushioned ones etc. But the most important thing is to pay attention to the ‘grit’. The higher the grit, the less abrasive the nail file is. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t use any grit lower than 240 on the natural nail. But if your nails are brittle try an even higher grit.
#9 Use cuticle oil
Cuticle oil is amazing! Especially CND Solar Oil. Be aware that the latter cannot be purchased legitimately unless you are a qualified professional so if you see it available online etc. it could be a fake! To be honest any form of oil is great for your cuticles and nails. In terms of enhancing a manicure, by keeping cuticles soft, you can keep the ‘new manicure’ look for longer.
#10 Resist picking!
It is very tempting to pick or peel polish off once you notice a chip but this can be really harmful to your nails. It can make your nails weaker which would affect future manicures.