How to Give Yourself a Manicure: Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Nails
A manicure is a treatment for hands and nails, performed at a nail salon or at home. It has a long history, over 5000 years when henna was used for a manicure.
Today it is known that manicure is not just an aesthetic treatment. It helps maintain a healthy balance of oils in and around the nail and prevent problems.
Nails are made of a protein called Keratin. Even though they do not contain nerve cells, the nail bed does, so pulling on a nail to the point of separating it from its bed will result in pain.
The nail bed produces new Keratin and makes the nails grow from the base out. Proper care will ensure that the nails will grow healthy and strong.
Some people say that there is nothing pampering more than getting a manicure and pedicure. Those who love full-body massages might disagree, but just as in a massage, you are becoming the passive one. You are receiving the treatment and have nothing to do in return (except paying of course). So feeling pampered and taken care of is part of the allure of manicure.
But if you don’t have the money or time to submit yourself to weekly manicures, you can always do it at home, by yourself. With a few tools and a little experience, you can have a salon looking manicured hands that you have done by yourself.
Most of the beauty supply stores have professional-grade tools. With the price of 2 or 3 salon visits you can buy the tools you’ll need and they will last a long time.
Here is a list of tools you’ll need:
- Nail polish remover: One that does not contain acetone,
- Cotton balls or pads: The pad will leave fewer cotton hairs on and around your nails,
- Nail file: Nail files come in different shapes, forms and are made from different materials. Professional manicurists prefer disposable emery boards. The metal ones last longer but might lose their effectiveness after a while. Most files are two-sided, one rougher than the other. The coarse one should be used for shaping the nail, the other for the finishing touches and to avoid ridges that might catch on clothing. How dense the file depends on the strength of your nails. This is sand paper-like substance, so think of your nails as you do of delicate wood. The harder it is, the coarser the file needs to be,
- Nail buffer: this is a foam block with harder edges to smooth out ridges on top of the nail,
- Orange stick: is a small stick with an angled edge. Those exist in metal as well and will last longer but they are best handled by professionals. The metal might be too extreme in an inexperienced hand. Those sticks are used to push the cuticle back toward the finger, exposing more of the nail,
- Cuticle trimmer: very sharp trimmers for cuticles. There are angled ones and straight across. You’ll have to try it before you know which one works best for you,
- Nail polish: base coat, color, top coat,
- Nourishing hand lotion,
- Cuticle cream.
Step-by-Step: How to Give Yourself a Manicure
- Wash your hands in soap and water to remove dirt and oils.
In nail salons, they will have you soak them in water and mild soap for a few minutes. Some have taken to putting glass marbles at the bottom of the bowl to prevent it from tipping and to give the idle hand something to do. Playing with marbles is a good exercise for your fingers.
- Remove old nail polish.
Don’t skimp on the cotton balls. Do it as many times as needed, especially if you have many layers of old nail polish. Dispose of the used cotton balls in a safe place. They might stain the surface they are put on. Remove all the nail polish. If there is some left between the ridges of the nail, use the buffer to buff it out. Soak or wash your hands again to remove dust. Some say that soaking your nails in lemon juice will remove all the old traces.
- Shape your nails.
Square and oval shapes are the most popular now. Use the rough side of the nail file to give it a shape. File in one direction only from the side of the finger to the middle, not back and forth. Smooth out the shape with the more delicate side. Buff the nails again.
This is a good time to use an exfoliating body or face cream on your hands. Rub them together for a few minutes, making sure you give extra attention to the rough patches on your hands. Wash it off with warm water, or soak in a bowl.
Dry your hand well, apply cuticle cream or oil on the cuticles and gently push them toward your finger, away from the growing nail. You do not need to cut your cuticles if they are in perfect shape. If there are ridges, ‘leftovers’ and such, nip it with the cuticle trimmer.
- Nourish your hands.
Apply a generous amount of hand cream and massage it in. Don’t be alarmed if it takes a few minutes for all the cream to be gone. Continue rubbing the hands, giving yourself an invigorating massage.
Beauty Trick: It is a nice trick, at this stage of the manicure to dampen a towel and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. Wrap your hand in the warm towel for two minutes to let all the cream absorb into your skin. Dry off your hands and use nail polish remover the remove the oils from your nails.
- Apply new polish.
First comes one layer of the base coat. One stroke in the middle of the nails and a few pulls, down the sides, should do. Base coat usually dries pretty fast. Apply a coat of your favorite color, starting with the pinky finger to the thumb. Let it dry for a minute or two and apply a second coat of color. After 10 minutes, apply the top coat. That will ensure that each coat has time to harden, even a bit, before the next coat came up.
Even the most skilled manicurist has some mishaps. Wait for your nails to dry before wrapping the edge of the orange stick with some cotton and dipping it in the nail polish remover. Clean gently and try to avoid touching any other part of the nail.
Maintaining Manicured Hands
- Your manicure should last well for 7 to 10 days. If the color chips, you can fix it with a color layer and the top coat.
- Apply a hand cream every night before going to bed.
- Wear gloves when dealing with harsh chemicals or submerging your hands in water for prolonged periods of time.
- Do not use your nail as tools or a tooth pick.
- Avoid putting your hands in your mouth.
Repeat every 7-10 days to have continuously beautiful, well taken care of, hands. Once you get the hang of it, it will not take you long to do the process. Your nails will not grow that much in a week, so only a minute filing will be required.