Perfect Nails at Home in 10 Steps

DIY manicures can save you money and are safer than salon treatments because you get to control the cleanliness of the tools.

1. Remove any polish on your nails with a cotton ball dipped in an acetone-free nail polish remover. Be thorough, but don't over-saturate the nail and cuticle since the chemicals can cause dryness and nail damage.

2. File your nails with an emery board, moving the file in a single direction away from the nail. Sawing back and forth or filing your nails into points will make them vulnerable to breaking. Use the crescents at the base of your nail to guide your shape.

3. Rub cuticle cream or oil into the cuticles, and then dip nails into a bowl of soapy water for a few minutes.

4. Use a cuticle pusher or wooden stick wrapped in cotton to gently push back your cuticles. Only clip any dangling pieces, not the whole cuticle, since that will put your hands at risk for infection. Remove any dirt under the nails with a stick.

5. Dry hands thoroughly, then buff nails to smooth any uneven edges.

6. Apply a clear base coat, starting with a single stroke down the center of the nail followed by one stroke on each side. Allow two to three minutes to dry.

7. Shake the polish bottle vigorously before opening. If the polish consistency seems too thick or dry, add a drop or two of nail polish remover any stir with the nail brush. Dip the brush in polish and tap the brush against the edge of the bottle to remove excess polish.

8. Place hands on a stable surface to apply polish, using the same three-stroke technique used for the base coat. Apply two to three coats, resisting the urge to use too many strokes with each coat. The polish will naturally spread as it dries. Allow at least two minutes in-between each coat application.

9. Correct mistakes with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover and finish with a clear top coat.

10. Allow nails to dry for at least 10 minutes without disturbing them. Test that they're not tacky to the touch, then moisturize hands and cuticles with an emollient-rich moisturizer. Be gentle—your polish will take up to an hour to fully solidify.



Sources: "Beauty Tools." Sally Hansen. Web. 2011 "How To." OPI. Web. 2012.