Whether you prefer subtle shades or in-your-face cherry-black, varnished nails will give the final touch to your total look; nail polish also acts as protection. Color makes a dramatic difference to nails, so if you’ve got the guts – be bold.
You will need: nail polish (including base, color and top coat), an emery board, a nail buffer, a hand, face or body exfoliator, a cuticle remover, almond oil, nail-strengthening cream, nail oil or vegetable oil, a nail brush and cotton buds.
Remove old nail polish or clean your nails with an acetone-free nail-polish remover.
Using the coarse (darker) side of an emery board, shape your nails, working from the outer edge to the middle and filing in one direction only. Once shaped, smooth the edges of nails with the finer side of the emery board.
Exfoliate hands with your face or body scrub, or a little salt mixed with glycerine.
Soak nails in warm water to which a drop of almond oil has been added. Using a nail brush, gently scrub the underneath of your nails. Dry your hands thoroughly.
Massage a drop of nail oil or nail-strengthening cream into each nail (if you don’t possess either, olive or almond oil will also do). Now rub in a cuticle remover. Then, taking a cotton bud, gently push back the cuticles. Rinse your hands and dry them thoroughly.
If you prefer your nails nude, use a buffer to smooth ridges and add sheen. To polish, start with a base coat followed by a second coat. Finally, paint on a clear top coat, which will protect the nail and seal in the color.
Here are a few tips to help your nails reach a state of polished perfection.
- Create your own customised nail color by layering on two differently colored varnishes (you may want to experiment on paper first).
- It is quicker and easier to retouch chipped nail polish than to wipe it all off and start again. And, as nail-polish remover has a dehydrating effect, it is also kinder to your nails.
- Before applying polish, clean your nails with nail-polish remover to prevent any subsequent streaking or bubbles.
- Choose an acetone-free nail-polish remover as it is gentler and therefore less likely to dry out the horny, keratinous layer of the nail, or to cause brittle nails or splitting.
- Speed up the polish’s drying time by using a quick-drying varnish or spray, such as Sally Hanson’s Dry-fast Nail Spray, Opi’s Rapidry Spray, Revlon’s Top Speed Enamel or Maybelline’s Express Finish Nail Polish. Plunging your fingers into cold water also works.
- If you end up with more polish on your finger than on the nail itself, there’s no need to start again: simply dip a cotton bud in nail-polish remover and wipe off any blobs.
- For those who lack polish precision, nail beauty aids are now available, including stencils, transfers and complete-nail-shaped adhesives, which means that you can do away with polish altogether.
- Professional-looking French manicures can be achieved at home with the help of stencils or a white nail pencil.
- Using an undercoat or primer will stop bold colors staining your nails, while applying a nail-strengthening base will keep nails conditioned and fill in any ridges.
- Protect your nails and prevent them from chipping by applying a clear nail protector as a top coat.
Nails decorated with gems, glitter and flowers have been regular fixtures on the catwalk. The Untouchables, the duo responsible for models’ talons, are to nails what Sam McKnight and Mary Greenwell are to runway hair and make-up. Here are their tips for nail art. ‘Do experiment with nail art, because it can be taken off as quickly as it can be put on. Choose a base color that suits your skin tone rather than going straight for the color that is in fashion. Simple additions to this base color can be very effective, for example, a rhinestone on each nail or a daisy painted on the little fingernail. Adapt nail fashion to what suits you personally.’