Nail Tips from An Expert

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Though I take pride in being able to give myself a pretty decent at-home manicure, I do enjoy the indulgence of getting one from a professional. Enter Olive & June, my favorite salon in the city. Not only is the space stunning, but their cosmetologists are the best around – no smears and no questionable tools: just a perfect manicure every single time. Olive & June's owner, Sarah Gibson Tuttle, is a visionary when it comes to nails and a great salon experience so I asked her to answer some of my most pressing questions (including how to get the smoothest, safest manicure possible). Plus, Sarah answered a little questionnaire where she divulges everything from the color she always wears on vacation to the newest nail trends to be on the lookout for. 

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What are your 3 tips for getting a professional-looking manicure at home?

Prep the nail bed really well, allow dry time between coats and use a brush to clean up around the edges. When the nails are completely dry, top it off with cuticle oil! 

What is the best trick for making any manicure last?

Aside from religiously prepping the nail bed pre polish, the best trick is to apply a shiny top coat every other day.

What should you look out for in order to pick a hygienic salon?

The best way to judge a salon is by their pedicure bowls. Always look for a salon that uses separate foot baths. Spa chairs with built in bowls are very hard to properly clean and bacteria love to live in the pipes! Ask how the tools are cleaned. Don't be shy! In California, our state board mandates that salons must use a hospital grade sanitizer like Barbicide. Some salons choose to use an Autoclave machine, which is a medical sterilizer and a step above Barbicide. Unfortunately, many salons skip and use either cheap Windex (can you imagine?!) or cheat and use Autoclave pouches but never run them through the actual machine. Check out the label on your autoclave packet: If the strip on the packet looks brand new and did not change color (the color changes when it's been run under steam), that almost always indicates the salon is pretending to use an Autoclave.

What are the colors you’re loving now? What is your all-time favorite color?

Even though we are in the dead of winter, I am loving neutrals. I recently fell in love with a lavender grey called Field Fox by CND (in Shellac) and never want to take it off. For darks, my all time favorite color is Sea by RGB. It's a deep dark green that looks almost black with a hint of shimmer.

What are the up-and-coming nail trends for 2015?

Longer natural nails and geometric nail art are just starting to have their moments.

What are the nail trends that you’re over?

I'm a lover of all things nails and nail design because I think it's such a wonderful expression of personal style. If you've been doing an accent nail but are ready to try something new, I've been doing two accent nails per hand i.e. ring and pinky or a ring finger accent nail on one hand and a pointer finger accent nail on another. Have fun with it. There are no rules!  

What’s the case for eco-friendly? Can you explain the difference between “normal” nail polish and the green stuff?

Everyone is clamoring to find out what the best polish is for you and words like "organic" and "green" have been used very liberally. At this point in the nail polish game, there is no such thing as a truly organic polish. There are polishes that are water based, polishes that are some version of 3-5 free and polishes that are not. Water based is definitely the cleanest end of the polish spectrum but they usually lack wearability. 3-5 polishes are free of the major toxic chemicals (i.e. formaldehyde, etc.) and are more durable than their water based friends. Polishes that don't claim either are usually the most durable and their ingredients are suspect. It's all about your tolerance for what is put on and in your body, and what makes you feel most comfortable.

A questionnaire forSarah Gibson Tuttle, Olive & June:

Oval, Square, Squ-oval nail?

For me, almond (which is basically a more pointed oval) or squoval. For others, whatever makes your nails look the prettiest! It's such a personal choice. I have heard that you should mimic the line/shape of your cuticles but I always defer to the question "What do you like best?" because no formula can dictate that answer.

Do you match your Mani/Pedi or choose different colors?

I rarely go matchy matchy. I am in love with too many different colors and find it very hard to choose just one! I used to do each hand a different color because I was so indecisive. That being said, having the same color on hands and feet is so chic and clean.

Do you cut or push your cuticles?

I push them back and then only cut what is hanging off. Cuticles are there to protect you, so avoiding cutting them is best. Many people believe they must cut their cuticles and/or the skin on the sides of their nail bed because it becomes dry and this is incorrect. What I advise is to use cuticle oil every day and you will have a much different feeling about how much you need to cut (and your nails and mani will look so much better, for so much longer).

What is your perfect vacation color?

I really only go on warm vacations (cold weather is never my choice), so I love white or Essie's Topless & Barefoot, which is a perfectly opaque nude.

P.S. My 10 Minute Manicure and Soft, Sandal-Ready Feet