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Have you ever wanted to learn to paint your nails like the pros, making the polish even and streak-free? Do you yearn for perfect French tip manicures you can do at home? If yes, then this At-Home Professional Manicure tutorial is for you!
I love it when my nails are manicured, however, I don’t often have the time, cash, or patience to go in and have them professionally done. You would think that I would love to have them done for me, considering I used to do nails during my own career as a spa therapist, and I LOVED giving manicures and pedicures. It gave me such a nice break from the long massages and allowed me to really chat with my clients. Now that I’m a mom though, I just want to do my nails, and get on with the day. So if you are like me, and don’t really want to take the time to go in to get your nails professionally done and would rather do them at home, let me show you what I learned in my years doing manicures at the day spa!
The items that you will need to gather will vary depending on what you want to do. Old habits die hard with me, though, so I am going to show you exactly what I used in the spa during my professional services.
What You’ll Need:
- Manicure Bowl
with warm water
- Old towels that you won’t be bummed if you spill anything, especially acetone.
- Pure Acetone
- Oil (olive, almond, jojoba, coconut, whichever one you would like)
- Cotton balls
- Nail Files / Emery Boards
- Bath Salts (I have always used Aveda)
- Cuticle Pusher
- Cuticle Nipper
- Buffing Block
- OPI Start-to-finish Base Coat, Top Coat and Nail Strengthener, my favorite base and top coat combo
- Nail polish of your choice; I suggest OPI nail polish in Bubble Bath for painting over your white French tips.
Begin by removing your old nail polish. Start by drizzling a little oil around the nail bed. Doing this prevents dark nail polish colors from spreading everywhere. The oil makes a barrier that protects your skin from staining you skin, as well as protecting the towels. You can use any oil you like, it really doesn’t matter. Plus, this step really helps your cuticle start to soften so it will be easier to push back.
This is a trick that helps even the most stubborn polish come right off. Taking a cotton ball, tear off a piece, saturate it in acetone, and then lay a piece over each nail bed and allow it to really soak in. By the time you come back around to the first nail, the polish should wipe right off! Repeat this step on the other hand.
Take an emory board / nail file and shape the nails. You do not want to do a back-and-forth sawing motion. This will weaken and break your nails. Instead, use one stroke at a time, starting from the outer corner of the nail, working toward the center. Repeat this step on the other hand. (Note: I don’t ever use nail clippers unless I’m working with REALLY long nails that would take forever to file this way. To use them, clip the nail, but make sure not too close to the nail. You will still need to file the rest of the way to prevent breakage.)
I like to put a bit of bath salts into the warm water to soak my nails. It helps the exfoliation process and really gets any dry skin ready to be removed.
Soak the first hand for a good five minutes.
After soaking, use a cuticle pusher to gently push your cuticles back. Carefully clean the edges of the nail bed next to your skin to make sure all of that dead skin is coming up from that crease between nail and finger. Just be careful not to scratch / damage the nail with being too aggressive.
Only use a cuticle cutter when you have really obvious pieces of dead skin hanging off. You should VERY RARELY, if ever, cut the cuticle. Soak the other hand and repeat this step.
Buff your nails using a nail buffer so that the nail bed is nice and smooth. In a pinch, you can use your emory board. Repeat on other hand.
NOTE: If you would like to use a body scrub to exfoliate your hands, now is the time to do it. Thoroughly rinse the body scrub off both hands. In a pinch, a GREAT body scrub is to take a good teaspoon of your bath salts, add a few drops of oil, and you’ve got an excellent scrub!
Before you polish, you want to make sure ALL oils are off your finger nails, so that your polish will stick and last longer. Thoroughly clean each nail with a cotton ball full of acetone.
Start with a base coat. This step is important to keep your nails from staining from the nail polish, will help the polish adhere better, and will help smooth in any ridges your nails might have, making for a smoother polish.
Polishing Your Nails Like a Pro!
If you want streak-free, evenly coated nails, here is the secret to painting like the pros!
(I created a Vine video to demonstrate this. If it doesn’t play on your browser, please try another browser!)
First, you will want to create a dot of nail polish about 1/3 up from the cuticle. Take your brush and gently push it down towards the cuticle, then in the same motion, sweep it back up and drag it all the way to the top of the nail. Then swipe the two sides, following the curve of your nail bed. It’s definitely best to do two thin coats, versus one thick coat, because they will dry much more quickly!
If you got some polish on your finger, don’t worry, here is another great trick we professionals use! Simply take your cuticle pusher, wrap a thin amount of your cotton ball around the top, and dip it in acetone. Use it like an eraser to erase any rogue nail polish from your fingers! Here is another Vine video demonstrating this technique:
Make sure you finish with a top coat, to ensure that your polish is protected!
And there you have your manicure!
How to Paint French Tips:
To paint French tips, start with a very clean nail bed. Use your white polish to paint on a stripe, using up and down motions. Do not worry at all about it being perfect! Once you have your first coat on, apply a second coat of white polish.
Using the above technique to clean up the nails, use it as a brush to clean up your arches, and to make them as thin as you would like them. Just be sure to follow the natural arch of your nail, and you can’t go wrong.
Use a sheer pink to paint over the entire nail, including the white. Just one layer will do.
Follow up with a top coat, and you’ve got a perfect French manicure!
Here is another Vine demonstrating the French tips technique: