Although there’s something to be said about a professional salon manicure, I have personally always been a fan of painting a fresh coat on my own in the comfort of my home (usually in front of the TV and with a glass of wine, if I’m being honest).
Over the years, I’ve collected countless polishes, but I’ve also added tonnes of amazing tools and tips to my ritualistic repertoire from experts and personal experience alike. Get the lowdown here.
The first step in my DIY manicure is a pretty simple one: remove old polish. I love Manicare’s Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover, as the gentle formula doesn’t weaken or damage my nails, and still gets the job done in one fell swoop.
Next, nothing feels better than a good deep scrub, and I adore LUSH’s Salted Coconut Hand Scrub. This dreamy scented pot is brimming with mineral-packed sea salt and mega moisturizing coconut oil. I scrub dry for a really rough go, and my hands feel super soft immediately after.
I seal in all the goodness with Dr LeWinn’s Daily Hand & Nail Cream. Formulated with Aloe and B Vitamins to hydrate and Vitamins A and E to protect, this cream absorbs lightening quick and preps my hands and nails for grooming.
Cuticle care is a delicate task, and Manicare’s Cuticle Trimmers allow for a precise result; the pusher gently creates the right ridge to trim without cutting too deep and harming the cuticle.
Next, I buff away any stains and prep nails before filing into my go-to short, rounded shape. Before I’m ready for polish, I always clean each nail with rubbing alcohol. Celebrity Manicurist and OPI’s Global Nail Ambassador, Tom Bachik explains the importance of this step: “before applying your base coat, temporarily dehydrate the surface of the nail with Isopropyl Alcohol (90% works best). Women often use polish remover to cleanse the nail, but most removers contain lanolin and other moisturizers for protection. These moisturizers can block proper adhesion of the nail lacquer.”
After the alcohol dries, a base coat is a non-negotiable. Acting like an adhesive while protecting nails from staining, Smith & Cult’s Basis of Everything is my absolute top pick. For colour, I really love OPI’s fun and punchy collections — this season’s was inspired by the bright and enchanting city of Lisbon, and features super flattering soft pinks to sunshine yellows and coastal greens reminiscent of the vivid city.
Classic colour and formula favourites include Guerlain for their deliciously delicate and decorative bottles, Smith & Cult for its amazingly long lasting wear and giggle-inducing names, and Jin Soon for her professional range that brings me back to NYC every time I swipe on a coat.
Tom Bachik shares his tips for perfecting an at-home job: “Apply two thin, even coats of lacquer — this will help to speed up dry time. If you desire better coverage, three thin coats is better than two thick coats. Let nails dry for about a minute or two before applying top coat. During this time while you wait, dip an old lip or eye liner brush in remover to clean up around the cuticles for photo ready nails.”
When it’s time to apply a top coat, I love Revitanail’s 3D Top Coat, as it offers a gel-like quality and super shiny finish that keeps chips and peeling at bay for days and days. If I’m in a rush to dash out, I wait a minute or two before applying a drop of Sephora’s Express Drying Oil to each nail. Drying nails almost instantly, this oil also moisturizes cuticles and adds a gorgeous sheen to the nails.
To keep manicures fresh for as long as possible, cuticles healthy and nails strong and chip-free, Bachik says his top tip “is to keep them hydrated. A great cuticle oil with great ingredients, like OPI’s Pro Spa Cuticle Oil, will even keep polish hydrated. Polish is very porous and continues to dry out over time. A great cuticle oil will penetrate into the polish, keeping it more flexible and resilient. I recommend using Pro Spa Cuticle Oil every night before bed.”