Some weeks, I’m a pauper with $3 in my bank account forced to eat ramen noodles for every meal. Other weeks, my direct deposit hits and I mumble, “treat yo self” every time I pass a store window and act like I’m an A-list celebrity with endless amounts of money. You name it, I spend money on it: clothes, shoes, bottles of wine, etc. But the thing I’m most guilty of blowing my money on is my manicures. I HATE doing my own nails, so if I can, I get them done every two weeks. I’d much rather pay to have a professional file and paint my nails than do a mediocre paint job at home for free. Plus, the nail salons usually throw in a neck massage at the end, and a fresh manicure is the perfect excuse to not wash dishes after dinner at your parents’ house.
However, there comes a time every few months when I’m slurping ramen noodles off the stove that I realize I absolutely cannot, and should not, treat myself. I forced myself to learn how to do a proper, at-home manicure for my own sanity, and the health of my bank account. Step one is to gather the tools. You can get these at any local pharmacy. You’ll need cotton balls, nail polish remover, nail clippers, a nail file, a buffer, a base coat, your favorite polish, a top coat, and lotion. After you have all the essentials, start by removing any old nail polish on your nails. And no, you cannot just paint over it if you want your manicure to look half decent. I prefer using 100% acetone nail polish remover because it works the fastest at removing polish. It is more drying than others, but that’s what lotion is for. Wet a cotton ball with the remover and gently rub over your nails until they are clean.
Next, shape your nails how you like them to look. I prefer a square look, mostly because I still like to pretend it’s 2009 and Jersey Shore is still popular. Round nails seem to be trendier now, but this is one trend I prefer to ignore. Whatever floats your boat. Only use nail clippers if you feel like you need to. A nail file is meant to perfect the nail shape, but it also takes a good bit off the length so clippers aren’t always necessary. Once your nails are shaped to your desire, use your clippers to remove your cuticles if you want. This isn’t necessary, but long cuticles can get uncomfortable. Next, take the buffer to smooth out the surface of your nails. Add some lotion to your nail beds and rest of your hands to keep them from drying out.
When your hands feel soft, apply a clear base coat. Make sure there isn’t any lotion or left over oils on your nails, as this will prevent the polish from adhering. You don’t have to wait for the clear polish to completely dry before applying the color. Use two coats of color. Any more than that can be too thick and may dry looking too chunky. Then add a clear top coat for a finishing gloss. This will protect the color and give your manicure an extra shine. Let your nails dry for at least an hour. I know that sounds excessive, but there is nothing worse than spending time doing your own nails only to mess them up later. If you can, use a hair dryer to speed a long the drying process. If you’re like me and cannot live with a chip in your nails, add a layer of top coat every day to keep the polish protected and looking fresh. This may be a long, tedious process, but keep working hard and maybe one day at-home manicures and ramen noodles will be a thing of your past.