How to get the perfect at-home manicure
When it comes to nails, I'm pretty hopeless. Would you think less of me if I admitted to having the same chipped nail varnish on for two weeks now? I don't think I'm alone in finding nail upkeep a pretty thankless task, so I've enlisted the help of my professional nail technician sister to share some tips on how to get the perfect manicure from the comfort of your own home.
No matter how beautiful your nails, they'll never look great on dry hands. Use an exfoliator to get rid of any dead skin and reveal soft, glowing hands. Crabtree and Evelyn do a great duo, which I reviewed here.
Use either cuticle remover (easily available from places like Boots) or soak your hands in warm soapy water for 5 minutes before pushing your cuticles back and snipping away any dead skin. This leaves your nail bed looking bigger and neatens the whole area.
DO. NOT. SEE-SAW. This is the golden rule of filing, especially if your nails are weak. Instead, gently file in long strokes in one direction before doing the same the other way to get your desired shape. Just don't go dragging the file back and forth rapidly - do one direction and then the other.
Bad news. If your nails have ridges, they might never go, so now's the time to gently buff them out with a nail buffer. You could also do this 2-3 times a week to reduce their appearance.
Start by getting rid of any nail dust and nail oil by using a nail varnish remover to wipe over them. Always use a base coat; some brands say you don't need one, but it's recommended in order to prevent any staining. O.P.I does some great base coats designed specifically to target nail types and conditions. Do two layers of colour followed by a top coat to leave them shiny and the colour protected. Wait until each layer is dry before applying the next otherwise they'll smudge and take longer to dry. Interesting fact - it actually takes 6-8 hours for your nail varnish to dry completely, no matter how quick-drying they say they are.
Wipe a nail oil around your cuticle, but try to avoid the nail itself. Cuticle oils nourish the skin around the nail and in turn encourage it to grow. And who doesn't want strong, long nails? Apply morning and night to get the best results. You should also moisturise your hands daily to keep them looking nice.
To avoid drying your nails out too much, go for an acetone-free remover. Dry nails will become flaky and break easily so it's important not to cut corners here, otherwise your previous efforts will have gone to waste.