Whether you’re a DIYer or seasoned professional, there’s some corners you just can’t cut when it comes to a manicure. A quick inventory of your kit reveals you have it all: good base coat, glossy top, and pigment-packed polishes (maybe a few art brushes, too). The thing is, paint can only get you so far. If you want a fresh manicure that looks meticulous and is long-wearing, you can’t skip this crucial step.
In the salon, professionals take extra care of the nail plate, cuticle, and surrounding skin, and it’s not strictly aesthetics. This process is known as prep. Preparing your tips is truly what sets you up for success. Not acquainted with your nail anatomy? It’s important to know what is and isn’t safe to clip, push, and nip. Take some time to review before starting your manicure. Most importantly, using clean, high quality tools is paramount to your health. Wash your hands before any service, and wash and sanitize your implements after every use.
Establishing what length works best for you is one of the biggest manicure reality-checks. While we admire long, sleek tips, they’re not always right for your lifestyle. Everyday things like typing, cleaning, or gardening can be hindered by length. Make sure you cut and file your nails appropriately, because you can run the risk of breaking a nail (oh, the trauma!).
Cuticles are not a mystery, promise! Pushing back nonliving tissue stuck to your nail plate does wonders for longevity and the overall look of your nails. Polish goes on smoother, looks cleaner, and products won’t lift. Use the rounded edge to gently push, then the square edge to clean under the nail and around those hard to reach areas.
Nippers are a great tool, but often abused. The biggest mistake is going overboard. Only nip stragglers and hangnails gently and with care. Remember that regular, proper cuticle pushing is usually enough. The key is to be consistent.
P.S. Don't forget cuticle oil!