From the supple softness of your skin to the elegance of the high-gloss finish and rich, thick color perfectly brushed across your nail beds – few moments in life are as gratifying as the minute you step outside of the nail salon and admire the artist’s handiwork. A manicure is a great way to pamper yourself, boost your mood and raise your confidence, but if you’re running to the professionals every time you’ve got a chip then things can start to get a little pricey. In order to save cash, and avoid waiting in line, here are a few steps to achieve a flawless salon-look manicure at home:
1. Take off all old polish with a thick cotton ball and your choice of remover. Your local Bay Area drug store or beauty shop should have plenty of options ranging in price. One of the best products is The Stripper by Deborah Lippmann (about $16). However, if your goal is to save money you may want to opt for Cutex (under $4). Be sure to do a sweep around your skin to remove any excess polish that may have bled onto your cuticles.
2. Clip and file your nails to the desired shape. As you may have noticed, short, slightly rounded square nails are the current rage. This length keeps your nails neat, clean and easy to manage.
3. Dip your hands in warm water with a touch of bubble bath. Soak them for about five minutes. Then apply a bit of cuticle oil, such as Sally Hansen Vitamin E & Cuticle Oil (about $5).
4. Invest in a cuticle pusher, such as the one made by Tweezerman ($15), or you can buy a wooden pusher for a couple dollars at most beauty supply stores. Use the tool to gently push the cuticles back from the nail.
5. After wiping excess oil off your nails with a soft towel and evening with a buffer block, apply a base cost such as Essie Protein Base Coat ($8) or OPI Natural Nail Base Coat ($5).
6. Choose a color. If you’re not ready to invest in a whole bottle, many beauty supply stores offer sample sizes that are generally just enough polish for one manicure. Starting at the edge of your nail, carefully swipe the color from the cuticle to the tip and cover the nail in three to four strokes. Add one coat to each nail, then start at the beginning and add a second coat. For especially thin shades, a third coat may be necessary.
7. Finish with a top coat, such as Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Advanced Strengthening Nail Topcoat (about $3) or, if you’re in a hurry and need a fast dry, you may want to try out International Nail Manufacturers Out the Door Top Coat (about $5).
8. Allow your nails to dry – then, using a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover, remove any stray bits of color that may have leaked onto your skin. Afterward, take time to step back and admire your work!