Monday, November 18, 2013

Beauty basics: The perfect at-home manicure

Whatever. Don't act like I don't have a future in hand-modeling.

I don't know if you're one of those cool kids who have been perfecting their nail game since middle school, but I only started to properly take care of my nails in college. And since then, I hate for them to be bare.

But the only time I've ever paid for a manicure was in high school when those french-tip acrylic nails were really popular. Except I didn't realize asking for "clear" polish wasn't the same as asking for a french manicure and my nails looked like shit. Oh, and also, I was too timid to say anything. 

But I wanted to do this post because I've had several friends make comments to the effect that they always pay for a manicure because they suck at painting their own nails, and I want to show that even if you'd flunk out of coloring class, it's still really easy to get a good-looking manicure.

Nail buffer, polish remover, cotton ball, clippers, nail file, top coat, polish of choice, base coat.

Full disclosure: There will be a lot of stating the obvious from this point forward. Sorry about that.

Step 1:

Clean those nails up. Get all trace of any other color off there or it will come back to haunt you.

Using a cuticle tool or the cleaner part of the nail clippers, push down your cuticles. They are not invited to the polish party.

Shape your nails to the way you prefer. Mine are pretty short right now so I like the tops slightly rounded. 

Step 2:

Buff your nails with a four-sided buffer, starting with evening the nails, then smoothing and then making those a-holes shine.

One odd, little bump on your nail that doesn't get buffed off will sabotage your entire manicure.

It's that serious.

Step 3:

It's time to start painting!

Don't skip on applying base and top-coats if you want a manicure that lasts more than a couple days.

I use Revlon's quick-dry base coat and Essie's Good to Go top-coat.

For my polish, I chose Essie's Sole Mate, because I'm an Essie fangirl.

The thing about applying base-coats is that you don't want to screw it up or your manicure will just be all downhill from here.

Only apply a thin layer.

If your base-coat is old and gloopy, get rid of it because it will be a horrible base for the rest of your manicure, making the final look sloppy. 

Step 4:

I typically only apply two coats of the actual polish, but I've found Essie reds can be streaky (sorry, Essie), so in this case, I applied three.

Since I have so many layers, it's really important to make sure they're thin, or else your manicure will look gloopy and sloppy (my favorite words, apparently).

Don't worry about getting polish on your skin, just make sure the polish doesn't pool where your nails and skin meet.

Step 5:

Apply one layer of a quick-dry top coat.

I love Essie's Good to Go because it's good at protecting the nails from chipping.

Quick-dry top coats are the only ones I'll use, because I'm over going to sleep with what I think are dry nails only to wake up with the texture from my comforter embedded on them. 

Step 6: 
Let those suckers dry. 

I wasn't joking when I said don't worry about getting the polish on your skin. Sometimes I just really don't care about trying to be neat. Because guess what? 

a) nail polish remover exists and b) hot water  helps take it off really easily.

My preferred method is to paint my nails at night and then clean them up in the shower the next morning. 

And even if you get polish all over your skin, they can still look like this cleaned up:

What your nails will look like holding a purse.

[Unrelated: I finally got instagram. It'd be super cool of you to follow me. I promise not to use my account for bad. Also, tell me which celebrities to follow, unless both their first and last names start with a K.]



  1. looks fabulous. and way better than when I try.

  2. oooh this looks so good! I am so bad about buffing. maybe if i did that or actually didn't only take 5 seconds to paint my nails they would turn out pretty.

  3. i'm way too cheap to pay for a manicure so i do my own. and you're more detailed than i am, i just slap that sucker on and off i go :D

    -kathy Vodka and Soda

  4. I rarely do mani's but I love a good pedi and I always do them at home. If my mani's turned out as good as yours I might give it a try.

  5. Thanks! It's hard to tell how poorly I painted within the lines in the second to last photo, but that's basically my go-to method! Hot water really does wonders.

  6. Haha, I like to buff a little too much, which is definitely not a good thing. This whole process probably takes about 15-20 minutes if you just sit down and do it, but god knows I find ways to drag it out forever.

  7. Haha, I don't know what it is about my nails but I swear they chip worse than other people's. They're genetically inferior, apparently, so I have to do the base-coat/top-coat thing or they'll be chipped within the day.

  8. Haha and I rarely do pedis. The nail polish always chips off my toes so easily even with a top-coat that it never seems worth it! But I'll admit that I love getting professional pedicures. Just not in the winter, when I am constantly in socks!

  9. I always count on the shower to clean up my messy polish too! I hate it when I'm certain I've waited long enough for it to dry but still end up messing up a nail.

  10. I'd never even heard of a buffer before. Don't disown me.

  11. I am the worst at painting my nails, I look like a first grader who refuses to color in the lines! So I always make sure to do it before I shower that way I can get it off my skin!

  12. I love that color! I wish I was good at painting my nails...I just have NO patience. But I do adore Essie- I wish I could afford more colors!

  13. It makes me so mad! Even worse when I mess up the same nail more than once in a row.

  14. It's cool, you can still hang out here. My mom put one in my stocking once and that was that. I really just need them because I have a bad habit of peeling off my old nail polish which leaves my nails rough.

  15. Haha, yes, showering works like a charm. No one will ever know my nails looked terrible beforehand!

  16. I don't even want to think about what I've spent on nail polish. I've been really good the past few months though. But I do love Essie too. I think it's the best drugstore brand, for sure.

  17. Essie is the best nail polish when I can spulrge.

  18. Yeah I haven't bought any in awhile, but it seems like after every paycheck, I'd end up at Walgreens for toiletries and tell myself, "oh you can get one bottle!" I got a little too excited the other day when I saw a bunch at TJ Maxx.

  19. They look so good! When I grow up, I hope to be able to paint my nails that good. ;-) Followed you on IG.

  20. So glad I am not the only one who has to do this :)

  21. Haha, thanks Deanna! Also, I'm so new to the instagram game that when I first read this, I was like, IG?? WTF is that?

  22. Your nails look all shiny and pretty, like a gel manicure! The thing is, I'm just lazy about painting my nails, but I might give this a try. I DID just buy an Essie top coat + base coat all in one, so I guess I don't have any excuses.

  23. No, you don't have any excuses! I've actually never gotten a gel manicure, because I'm wary of spending a lot of money only to tire of the color after a few days. Also, you can paint your nails as you watch Ravenswood.