A couple Christmases ago, I created a 5 step DIY Manicure video, perfect for a festive occasion.
Since then, I was also asked about my routine, day to day manicure. And as some time has passed since, I thought I’d approach the subject today.
Especially as, depending on where you live, I know many of you still need to forego salon visits. So, I’d like to support you by sharing the latest tips and tricks I rely on for a DIY manicure at home!
*And also, I’d like to encourage you to purchase vouchers to your salon, if possible, to use when safe. They also need support through these tough times.
Prep yourself before you paint yourself
The first part of my video in that first post was dedicated to prepping my hands and nails.
Now this part of the process hasn’t changed in itself. Good preparation is important for the final result, as well as for your hands’ long-term health and appearance.
But I have upgraded some of the products I use:
To begin with, I still always peel my hands when doing my at home manicure. This because I’ve noticed my hands do benefit from it, with the fine lines I already had becoming visibly diminished.
However, I have upgraded the hand cream I apply after washing the peel off, to an SPF one. The one I opted for is from Paula’s Choice.
And that’s because peels make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s effects. So if you use them, a sunscreen is also mandatory. Valid for your face, as well as your hands!
Next, once the skin is hydrated, I push my cuticles down. My advice is to never cut them, as that can open them to infections.
Then, I wipe the cream off and clean the nails with nail polish remover. This to better help the polish adhere to the nail, and last longer.
Here is where I also shape my nails with clippers+ a file. Do file only in one direction (no seesawing), to avoid encouraging peeling or breaking later on.
And a tip from Larisa, on the same note: avoid metallic files, as they damage the nail bed.
An extra step I learned you can add here is buffing down ridges (if they exist). It’s best to use a fine buffer (so definitely not a metallic file) to avoid stripping and thinning your nail unnecessarily.
Consider colour theory
Now, the fun part! Painting your nails can be as plain and simple, or as intricate and embellished as you’d like.
But whichever way you go, I’d like to propose taking your colouring (skin tone and undertone, and even hair and eye colour) into consideration.
You might do this already when it comes to clothes and make-up, to beautifully complement (or contrast interestingly with) your features.
But your nails are just as likely to draw attention- especially if bright and colourful! So why not give them the same treatment?
If you’re not quite sure how to start with your colour analysis, make sure to Sign Up for You and Your Personal Style. It has a chapter dedicated to just this subject!
Plus, from the 1st September 2020, it comes with a free 1-on-1 Q&A session with me, as part of my 1-1-1 Style System! So I am happy to give you further guidance if needed.
Paint like a pro
There are a few things you can do to make your manicure look more PRO and less DIY.
One of the main ones:
Painting thin (and I mean thin) layers.
Don’t pick up any gloopy amounts of product with your applicator, as otherwise you risk just as gloopy results.
Which take forever to dry, and most likely will also get smudged by the time they do.
Another important tip:
Don’t just try to paint your nail in one swipe and call it a day. Otherwise you are sure to leave the sides blank, and looking rushed, not complete.
But try to also steer clear of the other end of the spectrum, which is painting in short, repeated strokes.
I’ve seen this technique. I’ve done this technique. I’m never again doing this technique as it results in streaks.
Instead, the best way to paint is in 3 strokes: middle, side and side. This ensure optimal coverage, and when done in thin layers, dries quickly and allows for colour reapplication.
And while you’re at it: don’t just paint like a pro, but also clean like one.
My third tip is: don’t be afraid to get close to those edges, even if that means getting some product on your cuticles or skin. You can always touch-up later, but at least you get the whole nail covered!
And on this note, I also learned that a small makeup brush (like a lipstick one I used here, for example) is much better for cleaning the nail contour than a Q-tip.
A nail brush is more precise, and also won’t leave small cotton strand behind, to ruin all that good work you’ve done so far.
So feel free to colour outside the lines! But keep that brush handy.
Fidgety fingers finish fast!
Try saying that 3 times quickly
Just kidding- but I think we’re all familiar with the impatience of watching (nail) paint dry.
Luckily, there are a few products and tactics you can use to cut through that process, that are no joke.
In terms of products, I often use Seche Vite for a fast-drying, long-lasting, crazy-shiny manicure.
However, in the interest of transparency, I must mention that it contains Toluene.
It is present in quantities that are safe for the general user, but I wanted to mention it.
If you want a clean(er) alternative, look for Poshe- I haven’t personally tried it, but have read great reviews. (And if you do try it, please drop me a line here or on Social, I’d love to know what you thought of it)
Another cruelty-free alternative is Hard as Ice from Wet N Wild. And again, I’ll prompt you to share your experience of it with me!
In terms of tactics, you can always run your hands under cold water for aminute, or dip them in a bowl of water with ice cubes. You can also blast some ***cool*** air over your nails to help them dry faster.
These are all tips I’ve used myself, which have worked for me, and I can only hope they will work just as well for you. The best part is they spare you adding another (potentially not-so-clean) nail product to your routine.
Make it last
Once you’ve worked so hard to create a pretty result, I’m sure you want to enjoy it for as long as possible.
A good first step for this is to make sure you seal the nail’s edge.
If you’re confused about just what this means (I know I was!), it refers to horizontally swiping some product right across the edge that you filed/clipped, and even go a bit underneath the nail.
For a while, I was just painting a horizontal line over the top of the nail tip (without actually covering the clipped edge), which basically does nothing for your manicure’s longevity…
But you live you learn!
If you don’t want to smudge more colour on your skin, you can also do the sealing process with your clear top coat.
And speaking of top coats:
Be sure to use one- even if it’s not Seche Vite or equivalents. But any clear topper will increase your manicure’s lifespan! And a lot of them will even bestow that impossibly glossy finish upon it.
Another tip from Larisa here: never skip a base coat either. It’s important not just for endurance, but also to prevent nail yellowing and damage (especially if you go for strong hues).
And finally, that hand cream I mentioned during the prep phase should also be making a repeat appearance. Hydration not only keeps your skin more elastic and youthful, but also helps prevent hangnails and split cuticles.
So, here we are! My best tips I’ve learned along the years for keeping nails looking pretty while painted.
Are you also fans of a regular DIY manicure at home? And if yes, do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments!
Thank you for reading, and as always- until we meet here again, have a fabulous time!