Hi, my name is Elinor, and I'm a home manicure addict. Ever since I can remember, I've loved having my nails painted. Sunday night is even my "official" night to do my nails. This is because it gives me the chance to get organised for the week ahead and feel more put together, but also because I seriously can't keep spending all my money on manicures in salons. While I love the luxury of them and how it gives me time to relax, I simply can't afford to do it every week, which is why I've become a home manicure expert. And with my busy job that requires I tap on a computer all day, plus commuting, there's a fair amount of wear-and-tear that goes on. So I decided it was high time that I share my years of home mani wisdom, as well as calling on a couple of experts to share their tips too.
Keep scrolling for your ultimate guide on how to do a home manicure.
I'm a big believer that if you prep your nails properly beforehand, they will look amazing after. OPI Colour and Trend Expert, Jenni Draper, agrees:
"One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a home mani is lack of prep. If you skip the removal of dead skin from the nailplate, the smoothing of the nail with a buffer and the removal of oil before painting, then your polish won't last."
She also says if you pay lots of attention to your nails before the painting, then your polish won't seep outside your nails. "That seeping is usually caused by the dry skin that's left on the nail before polishing."
But if you're a novice, where do you start? Well, firstly you need a decent nail kit. I love and use the Soigné Nail Care Tool Kit (£16) every week. It has everything you would need to get rid of that dead skin to fully prepare your nails. Then I recommend you do the following:
Step 1: Remove all polish and soak your nails.
Step 2: Soften and moisturise your cuticles with some oil first, then use your flat cuticle pusher to push down the beds and get rid of any dead skin.
Step 3: Cut your nails, even if it's just a little bit, and then file into your desired shape. I'm adamant that cutting my nails makes all the difference to how long my polish lasts.
Step 4: Use a decent base coat, such as Leighton Denny's Undercover (£11). Not only will this prevent your nails from turning a horrible yellow colour if you're using a dark colour, but it will also help your polish go on better.
Choose a solid bold or neutral colour if you want to guarantee that your nails look as if you've just stepped out of a salon.
But, we hear you cry, how exactly do you paint your nails? How much polish should you load up on the brush? And just how should you hold the lid? Take a look at the guide below:
Step 1: You've done all of the preparation, you have you base coat on. Grab your nail varnish and hold it between your hands. Gently rub it back and forth between your hands. Warming up the polish helps to make it more fluid, and this means that the polish will settle better onto your nail bed.
Step 2: Get your phone and switch on the torch setting. Try to position the torch over your hands. I tend to use an upside down glass and balance it over the top so that the light is shining over my hands. This is so I can clearly see where the polish is going.
Step 3: Open the lid and wipe the brush over the sides of the bottle to deposit any excess polish. Keep doing this until you have a small blob on the end of the brush.
Step 4: After all that, it's time to paint a nail. I've always been told to do this in three strokes.To avoid any flooding of the cuticle position the brush just below the cuticle, push gently towards the nail bed as far as you can (but don't touch it) and then pull down to the nail edge. Hold the brush as you would a pen, and go down the middle first, then do the two sides.
Step 5: Repeat on the second hand. Then repeat as a second coat.
According to Gemma Pavey, group training and education manager at Leighton Denny Expert Nails, "Follow a good care routine for the nails, file and tidy regularly and use the recommended products for your nail type at home. Have professional manicures and pedicures regularly and wear gloves for gardening and washing up."
Step 1: You need a decent top coat. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. My favourite is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat (£9), which in my opinion is the best around.
Step 2: You need to wait it out while they dry. I know it's annoying, but it will save you more heartache in the long run. And don't even think about going to bed yet—it's best to wait a good hour or so before you hit the hay, as you'll end up with sheet marks imprinted on your polish come morning.