If you’re anything like me, nothing bothers you more than a sloppy-looking, chipped manicure. Because you never know when you might meet a hot guy or get asked out on a last minute date, it’s super important to be able to master the art of the at-home manicure since you won’t always have time for a nail salon pit stop! Trust me when I tell you that men will notice if you’ve got jacked up nails (my ex used to tell me that he didn’t remember what I wore on our first date, but he remembered that he really liked my brown nail polish)!
I love nail polish! The first time my cleaning lady came to my house she told me that she had never before seen anyone with as big of a nail polish collection as me.
It’s true. I have a bit of an obsession with nail polish; an addiction if you will.
While many girls enjoy treating themselves to a relaxing mani / pedi at the nail salon, the thought of going to one of those places totally skeeves me out. All I can think about is how many dirty feet touched the water basin, how many were scrubbed by the loofah bar, and how many nails were filed with the nail file, among other things.
I just can’t.
Luckily for me, I have mastered the art of the manicure, so I do not need to go elsewhere to get my polish done. Not being one for fancy nail art, although I’m sure I could learn if I tried, I like to keep my nails short and keep my nails all one color – perhaps it’s an age thing. Although I did used to sport a mean French manicure back in the day, and I did that shit by hand! Aside from saving a boat load of money, I have found that giving myself a manicure is actually very relaxing.
Since I do my own work, I have had the chance to sample many different brands of nail polish. Aside from the usual Essie and O.P.I served up at every salon, I have ventured out into the underground world of drug store nail polish and have found a true diamond in the rough.
Let’s face it. The worst thing about getting manicures is that they tend to chip. That’s the reason why many women are opting for gel manicures these days. But gel manicures are horrible for your nails and are a pain in the ass to remove. I’m not about destroying my nail beds if I don’t have to. Instead, I have developed my own nail polish routine, using three specific products, which when used together have given me the best results.
Here’s my steps for the perfect, DIY, long-lasting manicure:
Disclosure: I did not receive any of these products for free, and all reviews and opinions are my own. As an Amazon Affiliate, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
- Make sure your nails are clean of all other nail polish, dirt, or debris. Secret – I start each new manicure by peeling off my old manicure, which for me takes me to my happy place.
- Cut and file your nails, making sure to file the nail beds if necessary. I used to get bumps on some of my nails and learned that it happens when you fuck with your cuticles too much, especially the area at the top of your nail bed. It can also be a result of aging or of a more serious medical issue. If you have any bumps, you will want to file them down at this point. Speaking of cuticles, don’t worry about them just yet. We will get back to that. The only thing you might want to do is push up or trim the cuticles at the top of your nail beds.
- Start by applying a base coat. I use Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat. Not sure why, but this has become part of the winning trifecta for me. It doesn’t matter which hand you do first and it doesn’t matter if you end up getting polish on your fingers. We’ll deal with that later.
- By the time you finish your base coat, your nails should be dry enough to start with your first coat of nail polish (always start on the same hand and finger). For my nail polish I always use a color from Sinful Colors Professional. This brand is THE BEST. Not only are they cheap as f$ck (each bottle costs a mere $2.02 at Target or you can buy a Set of 10 on Amazon for $15), but they have dozens and dozens of colors to pick from and so many shade varieties. Plus, as mentioned before, this brand rarely, if ever chips on me.
- After applying your first coat of polish, wait a moment and apply a second coat. Try not to make your coats too thick. Again, don’t worry about getting it “outside the lines,” just make sure you get the entire nail.
- Now wait about two minutes.
- Finally, add a top coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat. This stuff is probably the key to a successful manicure for me. First, it adds a sick amount of shine and helps cover up any smudges or flaws. Second, it dries your nails to the touch in under a minute (to the touch is not the same as being fully dry – you need to try not to use your hands to do anything major that will cause your nails to rub against anything for at least 15-20 minutes.
- If you had shaky hands and made a mess, now you are going to want to deal with cleaning up your manicure. You have a few options here. You can use the old tried and true method of dipping a q-tip in nail polish remover, or you can try one of two tricks. First trick involves putting Vaseline around the sides of your nails prior to polishing – I have never done this, but I’ve heard that it works. The second trick, which is what I do, is to wait until you take a shower and then clean up your manicure immediately after. Make sure you’ve let your nails dry for at least 45 minutes. Shower as per usual. Then, after your shower, use your cuticle cutters or tweezers to simply peel off any nail polish that was left on your fingers. The hot water makes this easy to do and leaves you with a perfect manicure.
- Since you have your cuticle cutters out, now is the perfect time to clean up any excess or dry skin around your nail bed.
And that’s it. A perfect manicure using drug store polishes that will last longer than a regular salon manicure. Mine tend to last me at least a week.
I get complimented all of the time on my manicures. Nobody can believe that I do my own nails and that my polish lasts for as long as it does without chipping. The picture below is of my current manicure. I painted my nails last Sunday night, so it’s been nearly a week. You can see that my manicure looks almost brand new unless you look very closely at the edges of my nails where the polish has begun to wear off, not chip.