I love an occasional trip to the salon to get a mani/pedi with girlfriends, but most of the time I prefer to do it myself at home. I find the process oddly soothing and like that if I get sick of the color I've chosen, I can switch it up when I want. Of course some ambidextrous skills are necessary when priming and painting your opposite hand, but practice goes a long way. The most important part is the prep work before you even apply the polish, and here are my steps for mastering a 10-minute manicure at home.
Step 1: Cut nails. I typically keep mine pretty short and stick to a round shape that mirrors the curve at the base of my nails.
Step 2: File nails.
Step 3: Push back cuticles. This ensures that you'll have a clean nail to work with and there will be no jagged cuticles getting in the way when you polish.
Step 4: Cut hang nails. This step is a polarizing one, as some people are very against trimming cuticles. I, however, need to since I'm a nail biter and this helps keep my fingers out of my mouth.
Step 5: Buff nails. Making sure that you have an even surface is really important, so buff until you've smoothed out all of the ridges. Just don't get too aggressive here, since you don't want to make your nails too thin.
Step 6: Cuticle softener. Especially in colder months, a cuticle softener is great for keeping your hands looking their best. I follow it up by going over my nails with polish remover, just so that none of the oil seeps into the polish.
Step 7: Apply polish. Make sure to get polish only on one side of the brush, since it gives you more control.
Step 8: Starting in the middle of the nail, push upwards towards the cuticle, stopping just before the top. Then follow that same line down towards the tip of the nail.
Step 9: Still keeping the brush towards the middle of the nail, press it down so it fans out a bit to get one side of the nail. Repeat on the other side.
Step 10: Apply second coat of polish.
Step 11: Apply top coat.
Color used: Essie Hip-Anema
Cuticle Softener: Sephora Brush-On Cuticle Nourishing Oil