In most cities around the world, the ongoing pandemic means many personal care businesses such as nail and hair salons are either temporarily closed or limiting their services. Though cutting one’s own hair requires a special talent not many of us possess, perfecting your own manicure is a skill we can all master with a little practice and patience. In fact, caring for your nails is a way to practice self-care—and if there’s ever a time to be kind to yourself, it’s now. Throw on a bathrobe to get into the spa experience, and let’s get started. Here are six tips for perfecting your at-home mani.
1. Get the proper tools
To have a salon-standard manicure, you should have the proper tools. There are many all-in-one kits you can purchase to make the pre-polish prep a breeze. Alternatively, you can collect pieces individually as needed. Stock up on vegan and cruelty-free nail polish remover and cotton pads for removing old polish, and assemble a nail kit that includes good-quality nail clippers, an emergy board, nail buffer, cuticle pusher and trimmer, and, of course, your favorite vegan nail polish colors (don’t forget bottles of top and base coats). Complete your tool kit with vegan cuticle oil and a soothing hand cream, too.
2. Shape your nails
Every manicure starts with a consistent nail shape on all 10 digits. The shape is up to you—a slightly rounded or square-rounded edge is most popular, but you could go stiletto if you want more drama. Whatever shape you choose, be sure to opt for a soft nail file and file your nails using long, light strokes in one direction rather than a see-saw motion, which could weaken and break your nails.
3. Care for your cuticles
For a spa-like experience, soak your hands in a bowl of warm, soapy water for no more than five minutes. Lightly pat dry each hand and then use a cuticle pusher to gently push the cuticle back from each nail, following the natural shape of the nail bed. Next, use a cuticle trimmer to nip off any loose or hanging pieces. We love Delia Organic Nail & Cuticle Oil, which was featured in a past Kinder Beauty box.
4. Buff and smooth
At this stage, clean your nail beds by swiping them with a gentle, acetone-free vegan formula. Next, it’s time to buff. Using a soft buffing file or four-way buffing block, gently swipe each nail sideways three or four times per nail. This will smooth out and brighten your nail beds and give you a smooth, well-prepped nail bed to paint on.
5. Paint like a pro
Now for the fun part: polish. Perfecting your polish application can require some practice, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. It helps to have a sturdy surface that has enough room to rest your forearm, including your elbow—this will keep you steady while you paint. To prevent staining your nails, be sure to start with a base coat and allow it to dry before applying color polish. Start with a swipe of polish down the middle, then immediately follow up with an even swipe on each side to spread the polish. Use a light hand. Making sure you apply thin layers of polish will help provide an even application when finished. Allow each coat to dry for about five minutes before applying another coat. Pro-tip: There are some great vegan nail polish kits you might want to try, too.
6. Prevent chips
Always finish with a topcoat to extend wear time and prevent chips, making sure to finish by running the brush along the front edge of your nail to seal it. If you’re in a hurry, blast your polish with your hairdryer on the coolest setting, making sure to hold your hairdryer at least six inches away from your hands. When your topcoat is nearly dry, finish with a touch of cuticle oil, which will help hydrate them and provide an extra layer of protection to your nail bed. To help maintain your at-home manicure, it can be a good idea to reapply the topcoat and cuticle oil every few days.