The idea of treating yourself to a manicure may be nice, but after those post-Christmas bills come in, it’s likely not in the budget. Which is fine. You don’t have to hit up a spa to get the full manicure effect, but before you attempt it at home, make sure you’re not making some of the common mistakes most of us have been victims of. So here are the dos and don’ts of at-home manicures, because full disclosure: I personally have made some terrible choices.
1. DO: Moisturize cuticles
Cuticle oil may seem like a splurge, but dry, cracked cuticles can get painful, so it’s actually an investment. You also don’t need to spend a fortune “ ever. Body Shop’s Almost Nail & Cuticle Oil ($12) allows you to brush oil onto your nails so you can get those cuticles moisturized. Which also leads me to my next point . . .
2. DON’T: Cut cuticles
Never! Not now, not ever. While manicurists usually run with this procedure (and that’s actually something that’s debated between estheticians, since cutting a cuticle too close can lead to infection), you and I are not nail experts, so it’s healthier, safer, and less traumatizing to push them down. The aforementioned Body Shop product actually has a tool to assist with that, or you can pick up a cuticle pen at Shopper’s for next to nothing. No cutting required.
3. DO: File
Filing nails can feel like a pain, but you’ll actually prevent hangnails and ingrown nails if you keep them shaped. Also make sure to file in one direction: filing vigorously back and forth can cause jagged ends, so make long motions towards the middle of the nail to keep everything looking polished. And SPEAKING of polish (segway!) . . .
4. DON’T: Just apply nail polish
Well, you can. But by topping nail polish with a topcoat, you’ll not only get a shinier, better-looking manicure, it will last longer, too. And isn’t that what we all want? After all this work (and yes, fine, it’s not that much work), you want your efforts to withstand, not dull after you’ve watched your hands a couple of times. And when the time does come to remove your polish, make sure to use a non-acetone polish remover so that you can keep your nails strong, and in good shape.