Before I begin, let me just say that this will not come easy to everyone. I went to school for a year before I was able to do this correctly, and even after that there was some girls in my class that weren't able to pick it up. Practice makes perfect, so if you stay patient and give attention to detail then you will be successful.
Here are the list of steps to every basic manicure to keep your nails healthy and clean, the order of which you do this is mostly up to you:
File and shape nails
Some steps you can include are a hand soak with warm water and soap, and lotion or cuticle oil. I find it difficult to soak my hands as I need to use both and by the time I get to the second hand, the effect of the soak has worn off. Soaking does help to soften the cuticles to make them easier to push back and trim, so if you have overgrown or thick cuticles then I suggest you take a bit more time and soak each hand. I like to apply cuticle oil after I polish and I'll explain why later.
I begin my manicure by shaping the nails. I personally like them to be squared off, but some other shapes you can do are oval, rounded, squoval, almond, ballerina, or stilleto. Whatever shape you choose, make sure each nail is the same length and shape to give your hand that proper manicured look. Some tips to remember when filing:
Make sure to dull your file beforehand to avoid cutting your finger tip, you can do this by rubbing the sharp edge of the file you'll be using on another file or buffer
Don't file too aggressive, gently file to one side then the other, to avoid damaging the nail.
This is the most important step if you want a flawless polish application. This is where you get all the dead skin off of the surface on the nail. At the beginning I mentioned it would be a good idea to soak with warm water and soap before doing cuticle care, if you are fortunate enough to have easy cuticles, then you may skip that step.
For me, I use a drill to get rid of my cuticles. It speeds up the process and does a flawless job. You can get them for under $20 on Amazon, I'll attach the link below.
You have to be careful using it though, because it is a machine that can cause damage if used incorrectly.
It's best to practice on someone else or use your good hand until you get the hang of it. (I'm still pretty bad using my left hand).
- You want to lay the drill bit flat and use it only on the surface of the nail, moving the drill back and forth slowly and gently.
- Get into the corners good and you'll see the dead skin fly off.
- Try out the different bits that come with the kit and find which one works best for your cuticles, maybe start off with a smaller and gentler bit so you don't get any cuts or burns.
- If your cuticles are overgrown, (they grow over the surface of the nail), push them back first with a cuticle pusher, then begin drilling. This is best to do when the nail and cuticle are dry so if you have done a soak, then make sure to dry off well before this step.
- If you have hang nails or dead cuticle that needs trimming, carefully trim with cuticle nippers. Again, practice on some else or with your good hand first because it's easy to cut yourself.
If you have a nail drill, there is probably a bit that you could use for buffing. Try them out and see what works for your nails. You'll want a bit that is gentle but big enough to smooth out the surface of your nail. Again, lay the bit flat and use back and forth motions to get the entire nail buffed. You could also use a buffer instead or as well as the nail drill for extra smoothness. Once your nail is smooth and free of dead skin it's time for polish!
This is the step that takes the most practice. Here are some tips to help perfect your polish application:
- Leave a small gap at the base of the nail where it meets the skin, use this as your guide to keep polish off the skin. Make it as round and even as possible for a perfect look.
- Put liquid glue on the skin around the nail, let it dry, paint, then peel off. The polish will stick to the glue.
- Use a nail art brush with some polish remover or acetone on it to remove polish you get on the skin.
- With the polish brush in one hand, use your pinky finger of the same hand to steady yourself.