There’s nothing we love more than looking down at our hands to see a perfectly glossy manicure – it just makes us feel super glam! But as much as we love going to the salon for some me-time, it quickly becomes very pricey, which is why it’s important (and necessary for your wallet) to learn how to give yourself a flawless mani – at home. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get your squad over for a major pampering session. So, whether you prefer to rock acrylics as long as Cardi B or go for a pale pink mani like Meghan Markle, we’ve got you covered. To guarantee that you don’t waste a penny on polish, we spoke to the leading nail technician at Dubai’s award-winning salon, The Dollhouse, for their top tips…
Nail care 101
The bottom line is, the healthier your nails, the better your manicure will look, which is why you need to show your hands and nails some serious TLC on the daily, here’s how:
Apply hand cream and nail cream daily: When your hands and nails are hydrated, the smoother and stronger they’ll be – we literally stash hand cream everywhere; on our desk, nightstand, and in our bag (check out our fav hand creams here). Cuticle oil is another essential as it can boost growth and improve strength. Contrary to very popular belief, you should actually never cut your cuticles, as this leaves them exposed to dirt and bacteria. Instead, soften cuticles with a cuticle oil and after a few minutes, gently push the cuticle back into the nail.
Avoid nail hardeners: Well, some of them! Some nail hardeners contain a toxic ingredient called formaldehyde, which dehydrates your nail, making it more brittle and more likely to break. Some nail hardeners claim they are formaldehyde-free, but they’re still legally allowed to contain 1-2%.
File with care: If you file your nails using the classic back and forth motion, you can actually weaken and fray your nails. Instead, use long singular strokes, always working at an angle (never go horizontally), and avoid filing them too often – it’s only necessary to file them weekly.
Step-by-Step Guide for the Perfect Polished Manicure
Step 1: Start by removing any existing nail varnish, even clear polish, to make sure your nails are completely polish-free.
Step 2: Shape your nails with a nail file, always using angular, single strokes. To find out what nail shape will flatter your hands best, check out this post.
Step 3: Give yourself a hand bath by soaking your hands in some soapy water. We like to add a couple of drops of any hydrating essential oil we have on our shelf; our go-to is coconut oil.
Step 4: Apply the cuticle softener over the cuticles (this will ensure the next step is completely pain-free). Push the cuticles down and around the skin using a cuticle pusher or orange stick. If you have any hangnails (torn pieces of skin around the nail) carefully trim them with a nail nipper.
Step 5: Buff the nails using a buffer. This process smooths the nail surface ready for application. Wash your hands to make sure there aren’t any oils left on your nails, which may make your mani chip quicker.
Step 6: Apply a thin layer of clear nail polish.
Step 7: Apply two layers of colored polish.
Step 8: Apply a top coat to seal and lock down shine.
Step 9: After one hour, exfoliate your hands with a body scrub, wash off with warm water, and use a hand cream.
For Added Length
If you want to apply fake nails, then follow the DIY instructions until you reach step 5. Make sure you buy a packet of false nails that has multiple nail sizes so that you can find a shape that fits your nails. Don’t worry about the length at this point because once you apply the nail, you can cut and file it to your preferred length and shape.
To apply the fake nails, simply put a small amount of glue on the bottom half of the false nail and slide it gently onto your natural nail. Hold down tightly and wait for 30-45 seconds. Then continue with our step-by-step guide:
Step-by-Step Gelish Manicure
We realize that doing your own gelish manicure is a slightly longer and more expensive option, but when you consider how much longer it’ll last, it is, in our opinion, worth the investment. Follow the step-by-step guide above (up to step 4) to prep your nails:
Step 1: Make sure you gently file the surface of the nail with a finely-grained nail file (if it’s too coarse it will damage your nail), so that the varnish has a textured surface to grip on to. Then wipe the nail with cosmetic alcohol to make sure there’s no residue left on the nail. Then use a nail primer or bonder, which will help the varnish to adhere to the nail.
Step 2: Apply the base coat to the nail and then place it under the lamp for 30 seconds to cure. If you want your color to be brighter, you can apply a white gelish polish before your color, to enhance it.
Step 3: Apply the first coat of color gelish polish, then place your nail underneath the lamp for 60 seconds (make sure that nothing gets stuck to the nails i.e hair or towel strands as they will be sticky at this stage). Depending on the brand of gel nail polish you use, there may be a longer curing time, so check the bottle.
Step 4: Apply the second coat of gelish to make sure the color is even and enhanced, then place it under the lamp for 60 seconds.
Step 5: Apply a top coat, then place it underneath the lamp for a further 60 seconds, this will ensure long-lasting color that remains super shiny.
Step 6: Wipe each finger with a lint-free cotton wipe soaked in cosmetic alcohol to remove any stickiness, which will make the nails even glossier, and then apply a little cuticle oil to each finger.
You can buy a full gelish kit here, $95, including the LED light, nail remover, Gelish Basix kit, and six colors.
Step-by-Step Jelly Manicure
The hottest new nail trend that we’re obsessing over right now is jelly nails. In case you don’t know, jelly nails are see-through nails usually worn with a splash of color, or embellished with glitter or gems. For some more jelly nail inspo, check out this post.
For jelly nails, you’ll need an LED lamp, clear acrylic nails, $7, plus the clear acrylic nail polish, $7. Follow our mani guide above up to step 4, and then follow these steps below for the ultimate jelly mani.
Step 1: Apply a small amount of glue to the acrylic nail and apply it to your natural nail, maintaining pressure for 30 seconds.
Step 2: Once all of the nails have been applied, cut and shape the nails.
Step 3: Using the clear acrylic polish, apply an even layer to the nail and then place it under the lamp for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Once all of the nails have been applied, gently file the surface of the nails to add texture for the gel polish to grip.
Step 5: Apply one coat of clear gel polish and then place your nail underneath the lamp for 30 seconds to cure.
Step 6: To make the jelly polish, mix together the color of your choice with some clear polish. The ratio should be 3-parts clear to 1-part color. Apply the first coat of colored polish then put under the lamp for 60 seconds (make sure that nothing gets stuck to the nails i.e hair or towel strands as they will be sticky at this stage).
Step 7: Apply the second coat of colored polish, then place the nail underneath the lamp for 60 seconds.
Step 8: Apply the top coat and place underneath the lamp for a further 60 seconds, this will make sure the color stays intact and will give it that jelly-like finish.
Step 9: Wipe each finger with a lint-free cotton wipe soaked in cosmetic alcohol to remove any stickiness, this will also add shine. Then apply cuticle oil to each finger and finish with a hand cream.
Let us know your fav type of mani in the comments below an if you’ve ever tried doing gel or jelly nails at home!