August 14, 2014

Secrets to the Perfect At-Home Manicure

A latte + hot pink polish, what could be better?

Katie and I have an affinity for getting our nails done at the salon. It's a luxury that's hard to pass up, especially on the weekends when we just want relax and get pampered every few weeks. However, it can be an expensive habit, and with our budget, we've learned to cut back where we can. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to achieve a beautiful salon-like manicure with a steady hand, good products and pretty polishes.

Since it's still Katie's birthday week, I tested out my nail polish skills and treated her to a DIY at-home manicure.

Here are ten of my secrets to achieving that salon look...

1. Remove old polish. First things first, use an acetone-based polish remover to get rid of all your chipped away polish. I like using Q-tips to make sure no color is left on the edge of my nails.

2. Cut your cuticles. Use a cuticle cutter properly take away the dead skin near your cuticles. Sometimes I put on cuticle cream to moisturize and soften my cuticles beforehand. Definitely doesn't hurt!

3. Trim down. I like to keep my nails short, but it's up to you. Be careful to not trim them too short though, because filing them later will make them shorter.

4. File. A nail file is your friend. Make sure you even out all the jagged edges and choose a shape that's right for you, whether that be round or square. I like using the nail tool that smooths the nail down as well, so that my nails stay looking healthy.

5. Exfoliate. After all the above prep, next you're ready to exfoliate. I often use my body scrub to clean my nails and clear away the dead skin off my hands. Sometimes I use a dish tub and fill it with hot water, letting my hands soak for awhile before I move on to the next step.

6. Soften. When I really want to indulge, sometimes I heat up a damp washcloth just like they do in nail salons and wrap it over my hands. Then, I use a hand cream or body lotion to moisturize my just-exfoliated skin. Currently, I'm loving OPI's line of hand and body lotions. (I'm partial to the sweet tea one at the moment!).

7. Prep with a base coat. Now for the polish! My #1 rule I have to follow is applying a base coat. Without it, my polish ALWAYS chips, so I've learned my lesson. I use Sally Hanson's Double Duty for my base coat and apply a thin layer.

8. Apply two coats of color. Thin, even strokes are the key here. To avoid mistakes, make sure you let the first coat dry completely before applying the second. Katie chose Revlon's "Seashell" - a perfect neutral when you're working in the summer! However, both of us love Essie's line of corals for our toes during the warm months. You can never go wrong with a bright pedicure!

9. Finish with a top coat. Always always top off your manicure with a top coat. I use Essie's Good to Go Top Coat, but anything that protects against chipping and strengthens your nails is great!

10. Reapply a top coat every couple days. I like my nails super shiny, so I like to put on a fresh top coat every couple days. It also helps in making all your hard work last!

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