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

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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,