How to Give Yourself a Professional Manicure

Good Housekeeping

I love doing my own nails, and rarely get a salon manicure. Not only does it help me save money but it gives me something to do while I'm watching TV and makes it easy to touch up any chips since I own the polish. Some of my friends have asked me how I'm able to be my own manicurist and I thought you'd like to know some of personal tips for doing a professional job and making it last.

  • Apply thin layers, and spread them out. I apply a base coat, and then a thin first coat of the polish. I make sure this initial coat is COMPLETELY dry before doing the second one - if I don't, the second coat takes forever to dry and almost always smudged. Sometimes, if I know that first coat is dry, I'll even get up and do something else and come back and do o the second coat later. I REALLY make sure to spread these coats out! For the same reason, I take a big break between the second coat of polish and the top coat.

Related: 5 Quick Tricks for a Lasting Manicure

  • Make sure you use a polish that's still fresh. The consistency should be thin and easy to spread on the nail. If it's at all goopy, stop what you're doing and chuck the bottle. It's not worth it.
  • I also keep a "quick dry" top coat handy, both at work and at home. About two days after my manicure, I apply another top coat to protect the polish and refresh the shine. I have a bottle right next to me at work; on days I need a polish refreshing, I'll take a few seconds to quickly swipe on a coat on about two nails at a time. Since it's "rapid dry", after a few minutes of typing, the new coat is dry to the touch. Since I don't want to be "doing my nails at work", I spread it out by doing one or two nails at a time throughout the day. By the end of the day, I've finished both hands. My personal faves: OPI Rapid Dry Top Coat ($12.50, professional salons) and Poshe Super Fast Drying Topcoat ($7, drugstores). This picture here is the fourth day of my own manicure, with a fresh top coat.

Related: Make Your Manicure Last

  • I like to keep my nails short. After a few days of wearing the polish, I'll carefully clip the very end of my nails to get rid of that thin white line you inevitably get at the edge of the nail. Usually this trick eliminates any part of the nail that might have chipping, and when combined with a fresh top coat, I have a manicure that looks brand-spanking new. Practice makes perfect. Sure, it might take a little while to develop a really steady hand. Just go slowly! I make sure, especially when I'm painting my right (dominant) hand, that I have a steady surface and go extra slowly.
  • I protect my nails by wearing gloves when I'm washing the dishes, removing labels, and doing other nail-unfriendly tasks.

- by Mary Clarke

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