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My DIY Manicure Tools and Tips

Thursday, 17 December 2015
I love to do my own manicures and pedicures at home. I have actually had my nails done all of once at a salon where they honestly kinda butchered my cuticles and did a worse job than I would have myself. I though I would share the products, tools and tricks that help me get a perfect at home manicure.

Of course you should always begin by removing any nail polish you already have and then I usually follow that by filing and buffing my nails. My absolute favourite nail files have always been the black Manicare emery boards ($4.99) because they are cheap and really excellent. This is also a good time to clip back any really damaged nails and any hangnails but you should never ever clip into your cuticles. I then follow up with a Sally Hansen No More Ridges Professional Salon Smoothing Block ($4.95). If you have never buffed your nails before you will be amazed at how they smooth all the grooves and ridges from your nail leaving you with the perfect base for your polish. They also make the nail super-dooper shiny which is a nice look if you want to leave them natural. I also get a ton of peeling with my nails which is frustrating and makes the tips very uneven so buffing is an absolutely essential step!

Next up is moisturising and cuticle care. You can always start by soaking your hands in warm water to soften the cuticles but I usually like to do my nails at my desk in front of an episode of Scorpion or Arrow so I generally skip this step. I start by massaging in a good quality hand cream, really focusing on the nail and cuticle. My current favourites are the Grown Achemist Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream ($13.00) and the Revitanail Keratin Strengthening Serum ($19.99). I then really rub a ton of the Manicure Cuticle Therapy Oil ($14.49). This really moisturises the nails and softens up the cuticles so they are easier to shape and push back with a cuticle stick. Pushing back your cuticles takes a bit of practice but it is really the difference between having an obvious DIY mani and a professional looking one. 

This was a bit of a rush job where I didn't do my cuticles or clean up the polish on my cuticles after I was done.
Whereas with this manicure I spent the time getting my cuticles neat. See the difference?
After you have moisturised and tidied things up, is really important to wash your hands and then run a quick cotton pad with nail polish remover to ensure the nail bed is clean from any oils and creams before you paint. First start with a base coat. I always do this because it helps with the longevity and easy application of your polish but it is also crucial when using darker colours (especially reds) to prevent staining to your natural nails. I'm a huge fan of the Essie base and top coats but Manicare also makes good inexpensive ones too. I usually follow this with two coats of polish (maybe 3) until it is opaque and consistent. My top tip for achieving a good finish with your nail polish is to apply it in thin layers using three confident strokes. One straight up the middle of your nail from cuticle to tip and then the same on each side. The number one thing that screws up a smooth finish is fussing with tons strokes where the nail polish starts setting and grabbing. I have found that the new shaped brushes are the easiest way to acheive a smooth three-stroke finish. All the new Essie polishes have them now and I have also noticed that Rimmel polishes do to if you are on a budget. Finally finish with a top coat.

These flat, rounded end brushes will make your life 1000 times easier. (L to R: Essie Splash of Grenadine and Rimmel Rain Rain Go Away)
The final step is cleaning up any little boo-boos you made with the polish. I do my nails all the time and I still sometimes colour outside the lines (especially when I paint my right hand) but it is very easily fixed. All you need as a fine angled brush. I use this old Nude by Nature eyeliner brush but you can use any; even a cheap paint brush if you don't have a spare angled liner brush you don't mind ruining. All you have to do is dip it in some nail polish remover, dab the excess on a tissue and then run your brush over any places you need to clean up. Just wipe the brush off on a tissue between swipes and no one will ever even know you messed up.

So there you have all the steps I use to get a really nice at home manicure. If you prefer natural nails like me I really don't see the point of paying for manicures because you can get an extraordinarily similar finish at home with just a little bit of practice. I also find it more soothing to do for myself in front of my favourite TV show. You can even have some wine to sip (though I haven't tried because I don't drink) which is something you certainly can't do while you are in the salon.

Stay Rosy.

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