Guide for Great At-Home Manicures

2014-09-19 12.26.15Over the past year, I’ve had a number of people compliment my nail colors, ask where I got my nails done (when I’ve done them myself), tell me I do a wonderful job painting my own nails, and ask how in the world my manicure holds up for at least a week, and even longer, when I do it myself. Since so many people seem shocked when they find out I’ve done my nails myself, I’ve finally decided to let everyone know my routine, so they can have great manicures too!

The first thing I think everyone needs to do in order to have a good at-home manicure, is to determine if you have any nail needs. This is important because if you don’t cater to issues your nails might be having, your manicure isn’t going to hold up as well as it should. What do I mean by nail issues? My nails are quite thick, however, yours might not be. Using a base coat that caters to hardening nails would be something beneficial for you. My nails in particular are prone to splitting, mainly at the tops around the free edges of my nail, which was the main reason I would have nail polish chipping in the past. My polish itself wasn’t chipping off, but rather, a layer of my nail was peeling off, taking parts of polish with it. Because I know this is a problem and can cause issues with my manicure, I found something that helped it.

Moving on!2014-09-16 09.39.39

Step One: Remove any nail polish currently on your nails with nail polish remover. While I know acetone is not the best remover I could be using, it works wonders when it comes to removing glitter polish.

Step Two: Wash your hands with soap and warm water.

Step Three: Using a cuticle pusher, gently push down your cuticles. You’ll notice some dust, for lack of a better word, starting to appear. That’s ok. Taking the pointed end of your cuticle pusher, gently remove any dust and any left over polish residue under your cuticle or around your nail edge that may remain from your previous mani. DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Step Four: THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT! Run a cotton ball with nail polish remover over your nails. No need to scrub, because you already removed your polish. This time you are just cleaning up any remaining residue. It’s important to complete this step, rather than washing your hands again. If you washed your hands again, you could be depositing soap residue or fibers from the cloth you dried your hands on, onto your nails, which won’t allow your polish to set properly, thus ruining your mani before you even start it! That’s no good.

Step Five: Begin with your base coat. I use Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea + Bamboo Strength which I’ve mentioned in a previous Favorites post. This is what I find helps with my nails splitting all the time. It seems to “seal” the areas that are beginning to split. Apply 1 thin coat.2014-09-15 21.30.18

Step Six: Once your base coat is dry and no longer sticky, you can begin applying your polish. Apply in thin layers and try to cover your entire nail quickly. If you work too slow, the polish can sometimes be ‘pulled’ by the brush when you are trying to paint the rest of your nail. If you apply too thick of a layer, the top will start to dry creating an uneven manicure and can also cause indentations in your polish. Or you’ll think your mani is completely dry, only to find out it wasn’t… Thin layers are key!!! Many people get annoyed when the first coat is slightly see-through or uneven looking, but that’s what multiple coats are for! When you’re applying your layers of polish, always be sure to wait until your current layer is no longer tacky before applying your next coat. Yet again, this is important so you’re not “pulling” your polish.2014-09-15 22.02.31

Step Seven: Once you have finished layering your coats of polish and they are no longer sticky, you can apply your top-coat. I use Butter London’s Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat. I really love this one because the shine it leaves is similar to gel manis and it also dries quickly. It also doesn’t thicken up over time like I’ve experienced with other top-coat polishes. You’ll know what I mean if this has happened to you.2014-09-15 22.59.09

Step Eight: Once your top coat has been on your nails for 5 minutes, apply some quick dry drops to your nails. Angle your nails downward when you apply the drops, so they move from your cuticle downward to the tip of your nail.2014-09-15 22.16.46

2014-09-15 22.16.49

Step Nine: Wait. Just sit there and relax. And wait it out. This is seriously coming from one of the most impatient people ever, so I know you can do it!! Honestly, when I’m waiting for my polish to finish drying, I watch Youtube videos, or read other blogs, websites, etc. You can still type on your computer if you’re careful!

I didn't use Julep's Freedom Polymer Top Coat on my nails this time, but it is also a good top coat option.

I didn’t use Julep’s Freedom Polymer Top Coat on my nails this time, but it is also a good top coat option.

Step Ten: After your nails have successfully dried, take your cuticle pusher and using the pointy end, gently scrap off any polish that made it onto your skin.

You’re finished! Enjoy your new manicure! I will say, try not to paint your nails right before you know you’re going to be scrubbing out a cast iron skillet or some other task requiring your hands doing some sort of rough work. Even though your mani is dry and ready to go, it does take some time to really set and harden before it can handle certain tasks.

Some polish brands also recommend re-applying a topcoat every few days to keep your mani sealed. I will admit, I don’t do this very often, but occasionally, if I’m just sitting at my desk, I might quickly apply a topcoat.

So there you have it! My extremely long-winded guide for how to paint your nails at home, and have them still looking great by the end of the week! I commend you if you made it to the end of this!

Have an awesome weekend, and if you try out my guide to painting your nails, let me know how it works out!

Bows and Arrows,


March Favorites

It’s that time again!  The end of the month!  So I’ve rounded up my 10 favorites from these last [insert adjective here] 31 days.

1.  Pedometer App by Runtastic

Pedometer App for iPhone

Pedometer App for iPhone

I downloaded the free version of this app on my iPhone in the first week of March, and I’ve been using it every time I take my fur baby on a walk.  I really use it because I like knowing how far I walk her each day.  The free version allows you to save 3 different days of statistics and asks you questions once you’re finished like what the weather was like, where you walked/ran (such as a trail, along a road, etc.), how you felt afterwards, what the temperature was, etc..  I didn’t feel the need to purchase the full app because I don’t really need to save this information for anything.  On the main screen, it tracks distance, steps, how long you walked/ran, and speed, and you can have it running in the background while still listening to music, or making a call.  I’m sure this app does other things, but I’ve just been using it to track distance.

2.  Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock by Northcube AB

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app for iPhone

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app for iPhone

I’ve been using this app every night since I’ve downloaded it (I have the full version) in the middle of March.  With this app, you place your phone on the corner of your bed, above your head, and it tracks your sleep movements and cycles to wake you up at just the right time within a 30-minute timeframe so when you wake up, you feel most energized.  This app also records statistics from night to night and shows a variety of graphs that compare each night’s sleep.  I really like to see how my sleep is affected by factors such as the amount of time I spend in bed, how early I have to be up, whether or not I’ve had caffeine that day, my stress levels (which, who am I kidding, they are always high), etc..  Someone I work with at the coffee shop also uses it, and we like to compare our maps the next day, especially when we haven’t slept as much as we would have liked the night before.

3.  Ipsy Cosmetic bags

Various Ipsy bags from 2013

Various Ipsy bags from 2013

Currently, I am not subscribed to Ipsy because I am a poor. Ok, that sounds bad.  I’m not “a poor,” I’m just not making enough to currently afford subscription boxes (which is very unfortunate, because I loved getting surprises in the mail each month).  Ipsy sends deluxe, and sometimes full-sized cosmetics in a small cosmetic bag, which changes every month.  I now have a small collection of these cosmetic bags, which really came in handy when I went on my vacation to Florida.  I also have some floating around the house storing my Sharpie pens, and other various items.  I even keep one in my [overly organized] purse to store all my small items that would otherwise end up forgotten about at the bottom.

4.  House of Harlow sunglasses

House of Harlow Aviators

House of Harlow Aviators

I recently rediscovered these for my Florida trip.  I received these in a Pop Sugar Must Have box last year.  I had them hiding in my closet because this eternal winter we had for the last few months didn’t warrant sunglasses.  But I wore the heck out of them in Florida, and during the last few days of March, they were actually worthy of hanging around in my purse, because it was sunny enough to wear them!

5.  Tokyo-Milk Dark hand-crème in Tainted Love

I got this from a cute little boutique on my trip to Florida, however, I have seen it at Sephora.  Let me just say, I put this stuff on my hands, and everyone flocks to me to tell me that something I’m wearing smells amazing.  That would be this stuff right here!  Not even exaggerating.  You can get some here.

Tokyo-Milk Shea Butter Handcreme in Tainted Love

Tokyo-Milk Shea Butter Handcreme in Tainted Love

6.  Madewell zip pochette in calf hair

Madewell zip pouchette in calf hair, Spring 2014

Madewell zip pochette in calf hair, Spring 2014

Yet again, something I used while in Florida.  Go figure.  But really though, this makes a great wallet inside of my bigger purses, but also a nice clutch since it has a pocket and card slots inside.  You can get one for yourself here!  And if you don’t like that one, there is this one as well.

7.  Julep Sea Salt texture spray

Julep Sea Salt Texture Spray

Julep Sea Salt Texture Spray

I have now noticed this monthly trend my favorites being things I used while in Florida, that I received from subscription boxes.  I got this hair product in a Julep Maven subscription box sometime last year, and it is the best sea salt spray I have used.  It actually enhances my wavy hair and doesn’t make it frizz out.  And I also don’t have to use half of the bottle to make it work!

8.  Madewell denim vest

Madewell denim vest, Spring 2013

Madewell denim vest, Spring 2013

Let me just say, I call myself an expert when it comes to choosing outfits that are fitting for theme parks.  Just sayin’.  You can disagree.  But I really think I do a good job of being comfortable, while also being stylish, and making sure I have everything I need without having to carry around a purse or backpack.  Really though, when you go into a theme park with a bag, it slows you down for many reasons, two being that it has to be checked, and you can’t get on many of the rides with them.  When I went to the two theme parks in Florida, I wore my denim vest both times.  It’s not too hot, and it has inside pockets, where I can store all of my crap wonderful things.  This way, it isn’t going to be jacked off my person while I’m staring at Hogwarts in awe wondering if my letter was accidentally mailed to the wrong address, and my precious Instagram machine (because what would I do without my iPhone, I don’t know, die probably) also isn’t going to fly out of my pocket when the Dragon Challenge flips me upside down.  I do wear this even when I’m not at theme parks too!  It’s a really easy layering piece.

9.  Betty Crocker Parlor Perfect confetti sprinkles

I am not ashamed to say that I went through an entire bottle of these in a week.  I’m also not ashamed to say, yes, I am that girl that gets THIS excited about sprinkles.  They are like crack for frozen yogurt.  It’s like my brain said, “Lynda, you’re eating deliciously healthy frozen yogurt with live and active cultures, why not add something to it so you’re amazing dessert is not-so-healthy anymore!”  And then I said, “Ok, but only if I find the CRUNCHY sprinkles and not those disgusting WAXY ones.”  And alas, Harris Teeter had the crunchy sprinkles.  These babies.

All I gotsta say is "NOM."

All I gotsta say is “NOM.”

10.  Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt Kind Healthy Grains Bars

Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt Kind Bar

Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt Kind Bar

And to round off my March favorites list: these maple pumpkin seeds Kind bars.  Please note that these are the square ones, not the rectangular ones.  I have only ever been able to find them in a box, not individually.  During the months of October and November, they have a spot on the shelf in Kroger, but they are never ever there.  Ever.  But in the middle of March, you can find an entire FIVE boxes on the shelf.  They are really that popular.


Bam.  So there you go.  The things I liked during the month of madness and green beer.  So long March, hello April!

Bows and Arrows,


January Favorites

Lynda’s 10 Most Favorite Things During the Month of January (And yes, it’s a little late, so very sorry!)

1. Speculoo’s Cookie Butter and Cookie and Cocoa Swirl

Speculoo's Cookie Butter and Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Spread from Trader Joe's

Speculoo’s Cookie Butter and Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Spread from Trader Joe’s



Really though, does this surprise you?  If I could replace oxygen with this stuff, I would have.  But I can’t, so I eat this stuff just as much as I breathe.  Not really, but it is that good.







2.  Colavita Balsamic Vinegar

Colavita Balsamic Vinegar from Harris Teeter

Colavita Balsamic Vinegar from Harris Teeter




I’ve used this a lot this month in recipes.  I used it on salads, in chickpea salads, in chicken recipes, in pastas, the list goes on.






3.  BCBG Judie Riding Boots in Black






I have worn these probably 25 of the 31 days in the month of January.  I love them because I have skinny calves, and these boots are not too wide on my legs.  They are also very basic, without all those buckles and branding plastered all over them.  And they are also very comfortable to wear when you’re on your feet all day!





4.  Mandarin Oranges

Halo brand Mandarin Oranges from Harris Teeter

Halo brand Mandarin Oranges from Harris Teeter




I know.  I have a lot of food related items in my favorites this month.  But I ate two three-pound bags of these this month.  That’s six pounds of mandarin oranges in 31 days.  Kinda ridiculous, but they are just that good!  And they are only in season through April.






5.  Clarisonic Deep Pore Cleansing Brush

Contacts Case, Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Facial Cleanser from Ulta, and Clarisonic Mia 2 with Deep Pore Cleansing Brush from Ulta

Contacts Case, Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Facial Cleanser from Ulta, and Clarisonic Mia 2 with Deep Pore Cleansing Brush from Ulta




This facial cleansing routine that I have started has really seemed to be working.  And that’s thanks to this new brush I bought for my Clarisonic.  So it’s definitely a favorite of mine this month.







6.  Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream

Total Moisture Facial Cream by Benfit from Belk @ the Benefit Bar

Total Moisture Facial Cream by Benefit from Belk @ The Benefit Bar




With this dry weather, my face seems to get dryer than usual, especially around my chin and forehead.  This facial cream, which I use right after I clean my face with my Clarisonic, has kept my face moisturized all day long!






7.  Glasses Contacts Case

Glasses Shaped Contacts Case, from Urban Outfitters

Glasses Shaped Contacts Case, from Urban Outfitters



This was given to me by Ashley as a Christmas present last month, and I think it’s the coolest little contacts case!  And I obviously use it everyday! 🙂







8.  Madewell Mini Geo-chain Necklace

Mini Geochain Necklace from Madewell.  Disclaimer: This picture does not do it justice!

Mini Geochain Necklace from Madewell. Disclaimer: This picture does not do it justice!




I love this necklace, and it is literally the easiest add on to complete any outfit.  It’s a simple chain, but more unique than any average chain, because it has little circles and squares attached to it.






 9.  NC State Tervis Tumbler

NC State Tervis Tumbler from Belk

NC State Tervis Tumbler from Belk




I drink everything out of these tumblers.  My coffee, my apple juice, my tea, water, etc..  I drink things really slowly so I like using my tumblers because if I ever need to leave, I can just bring my drink along with me.





10.  Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat

Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat, online at

Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat, found online at




I swear by this topcoat.  I do my own nails, and I’ve had many people ask me where I get my nails done.  I owe that to this topcoat.  It dries almost like shellac without needing a special light to cure it.  And it generally lasts for at least 7 days on my nails, even if I’m working with my hands a lot.  It also dries much quicker than other topcoats I’ve used in the past, which means I’m not sitting vulnerably at my desk for an hour waiting.





So there you have it.  Lynda’s favorites for the month of January!  What were some of your favorites this month?

Bows and Arrows, Lynda