The Joy of a Perfect Manicure
It seems like a guilty pleasure, but I love having my nails done. With a nice manicure, I feel like I can take on anything. In fact, whenever my nails aren’t painted, I feel naked or as though something is missing. Although I am definitely a fan of going to the salon for a professional manicure from time to time, I actually find it quite therapeutic to do it myself. I give myself a manicure about once week. One of my pet peeves is having chipped nails, so I’ve figured out how to make my manicure last as long as possible.
A long-lasting manicure starts with healthy nails. Broken, split or peeling nails almost always lead to prematurely chipped nail polish. One of the best products I’ve found for my nails is the Formula X Delete nail polish remover. In spite of the price point, I think it is worth it in the long run for keeping my nails healthier and stronger. Other drugstore brands of nail polish remover leave my nails feeling dried out and brittle, and I always feel the need to over condition them. The Formula X version has lavender, biotin and aloe, which help soothe and nourish my nails.
Aside from moisturizing cuticles regularly, it is also really important to clean them up properly. I do trim my cuticles. The key, in my opinion, is to be very intentional about how you go about this. I always start by gently pushing back my cuticle with a wooden cuticle stick, so it doesn’t creep too far up.
Next, I “erase” my cuticle with the end of a micron crystal nail file, like the one found in this kit. By using the flat, rounded end of one of these files in small circular rubbing motions (as you would use an eraser), you can safety and gently remove the majority of your cuticle. This can damage your nails a bit if you are too rough, so I only recommend doing this about once or twice a month.
Clipping and Filing
If needed, I clip my nails down a little bit, but most of the time, I just file them. For the most part, I only use the micron crystal file mentioned above. This really polishes out the tips and leaves the edges clean and smooth. Regular emory boards can leave nails split and jagged, even when the nail shape looks good. After using the crystal file, you should be able to run your nails along a delicate sweater or silk and not feel them snag at all.
Lastly, after pushing back my cuticles and filing down my nails, I will either wash my hands with warm soapy water or soak them for few moments. The goal here is to soften the cuticles as much as possible. Then, I will take a cuticle nipper and clip off any remaining unsightly cuticle that is hanging or otherwise in the way. This process should most definitely not hurt and you should be very careful about cutting any skin.
The Base Coat
Always use a base coat. I have been using Nailtques ever since I was in high school to make my nails harder and less brittle. There was a period of time, when I also used to have a problem with dark nail polishes staining my nails. I used to love dark navys and dark burgundies, but even after I removed the polish they started to tinge my nails an unhealthy-looking color. It is so important to use a base coat, especially with the colder months approaching during which darker colors are popular. They key to a good manicure is to seal your nails with a base coat all the way from the nail bed to the tip. This means to make sure to swipe the polish along the very tip of your nail.
My all time favorite nail color is Eternal Optimist by Essie. Every single time I paint it on my nails, I love it. Since it first came out a few years ago, it quickly became my very favorite Essie color. It’s soft, it’s not too sheer, it’s pink and it’s feminine. Plus, it acts as a neutral and goes with everything. I always do two coats. I seal the edge of my nail like I did in with the base coat. Then, for the second coat, I dab a bit in the center of the nail and spread it generously throughout. I’ve found that some colors look better with three coats, but they will take significantly longer to dry, so you are better off sticking with just two coats!
The Top Coat
Lastly, a good top coat is critical. I love my Essie Gel Setter top coat because it dries quickly and gives nails a really shiny and hardened look. The tip here is to wait about 10 minutes after applying color and before applying the topcoat to avoid smudging. Be generous with top coat application and make sure to seal the edge. Then, just sit tight for at least 20 minutes. I like to paint my nails right before I’m about to watch a movie or go for a drive. That way I won’t touch anything. The key to make a manicure really last is to be gentle with your nails for at least 24 hours after painting them so they can fully cure.
What are your tricks for a long lasting manicure?