Well-manicured nails are a joy to behold. Whether you a nail art trend slave, prefer a plain colour or naked nails, there is no doubt that your nails must be tended to.
Basic Nail Care: The Science Bit.
Your nails are made up of layers of the same stuff that makes up your skin and hair, but in a hardened form. These layers are held together by molecules of fat/moisture. Keeping your nails well moisturised is the foundation to tough, strong nails.
If you want to build stronger nails, the first thing you want to consider is a routine. Whether this involves visits to a nail bar/spa or DIY job at home, you should stay consistent.
The DIY Nail Care Routine
So you want to take care of your nails by yourself at home. You will need a manicure that contains some basic tools and products.
Your At-Home Nail Kit
- Nail Clippers
- Nail File
- Lint-free cotton pads
- Orangewood sticks
- Soft buffer
- Manicure bowl
- Hand Towel
- Cuticle oil
- Cuticle Softener (optional)
- Nail Treatments (optional)
- Base and Top coat
- Nail Colour
- Nourishing Hand Cream
- Nail Polish Remover
These are the basics and is by no means an exhaustive list.
A Basic At-Home Manicure
You should have a manicure about once a week, unless you are rocking enhancements or Power Polish such as Shellac.
Step 1: Remove colour, trim and shape your nails
Firstly remove any nail polish from your nails with a lint-free cotton pad and nail polish remover. Many people soak their nails first, but you don’t want to do this as you could soften your nails and it makes it harder to clip and file them accurately. Trim your nails to the desired length and file them to the shape you want. We won’t bore you with the science behind it but a square shape is the strongest shape for most nails.
When filing your nails, be gentle. The general advice is to file in one direction from the side to centre, however there are files on the market that allow you to file both ways without damaging your nails: Diamancel Nail Files.
Step 2: Apply a cuticle softener/remover and soak nails
There is a constant debate about whether to remove or just soften cuticles. Whichever route you decide to take, you must address your cuticles. Cuticles are a tricky thing, as even most manicurists cannot properly identify them, so we recommend simply softening your cuticles at home, and leaving the removing to a trained professional.
To soften your cuticles, follow the instructions provided on the cuticle softener product. Some products require you to soak your nails first and then apply, while others require the reverse.
Step 3: Push your cuticles back and clean underneath your nail tip.
Using an orangewood stick, gently push back your cuticles and clean any debris from underneath your nail tip. Do not force your cuticles back, you could damage your nails.
Step 4: Apply a moisturising cuticle oil
Apply a moisturising cuticle oil to the entire nail area. Cover the cuticle area, skin and nail. Massage the oil in thoroughly. This is important for the strengthening and growth of your nails.
Step 5: lightly buff your nails
This is another controversial step. Done correctly it enhances the look of your nail and is the secret to many long-lasting manicures. However, some experts believe that constant buffing of the nail surface weakens the nails. We recommend using a very light buffer only once a week on your nails. Make sure there is oil on the surface of your nail as this protects and smoothens the nail surface.
Step 6: Remove oil and debris and finish
Using a lint-free cotton pad and some polish remover, wipe down the nail surface until there is no sign of dust, oil or debris. You want, smooth, dry nail surfaces. Then you can apply your desired nail treatment and/or colour to finish.
EXPERT TIP: Once nail colour or treatment is dry, add another drop of cuticle oil to the cuticle area to re-moisturise the area. Do this daily to keep your nail underneath strong and the surrounding skin healthy.
Nail Kit Recommendations:
Clockwise from Left: CND SolarOil, 15ml, £9.95, OPI Nail Lacquer, 15ml, £11.95, and OPI Nail Buffer, £4.68, both from opiuk.com, Butter London Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, 175ml, £17, Boots.com, Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream, 75ml, £18.50, blissworld.co.uk, Tweezerman Clipper Set, Tweezerman.co.uk, Diamancel file #1 the softie, £28, blissworld.co.uk, Seche Vite Quick Dry Top Coat, 14ml, £9.00, Boots.com, CND Stickey Base Coat, 9.8ml, £8.95, cultbeauty.co.uk.