The Homemade Manicure

By Juliana Day

It's hard to begin typing this column because I am forced to look at my own fingers. Dry, uneven nails, hangnails and cuticles that would make you cringe. I'm embarrassed to admit that this fashion and beauty columnist has fallen terribly short as an example in this department.

The problem is simple: time. Most of us lead busy lives and a manicure doesn't make the top of our "to-do" lists. This would mean finding a babysitter, taking time off work, cutting into precious time with our spouse, or juggling an already full schedule for this seemingly unimportant task.

My suggestion to all your busy gals out there is to try my own remedy: The Home Made Manicure. Do it at your own leisure without the extra time and expense.

The Do-it-Yourself Manicure

You will need:

Moisturizing soap or mild facial cleanser
Warm water
Nail clippers or a nail scissor
Orange stick
Moisturizing cream
Emery board
Olive oil or lemon juice
Nail brush and polish.

  1. Remove old nail polish. Wet a cotton pad with polish remover, hold on nails for a few seconds to dissolve polish, then wipe away in an outward sweeping motion to keep cuticles clean.

  2. Wash your hands with warm water and luxurious, moisturizing soap or with a mild facial scrub (If your hands feel rough).

  3. Pat hands dry with a soft towel.

  4. Clip or cut nails to a length slightly longer than the one desired. I recommend a mid to short length oval nail. The oval nail is the most flattering and frankly, long nails are a fashion undertaking that only Morticia can pull off.

  5. Use an emery board to file nails down to the desired length. Avoid metal files that can easily rip the nail. File from the outer corners towards the tip. Do not use a back and forth motion as this can make nails appear jagged.

  6. Soak hands in a bowl with warm water and 1-2 tbsp. of lemon juice or olive oil to soften hands and cuticles. Let soak approximately 5-10 minutes. (This may be a good time to catch up on Dr. Phil.) Then clean with a nail brush.

  7. Apply cuticle cream to the cuticles. Massage the entire hand with moisturizing lotion using the thumb of your other hand in circular motion. This will get the blood moving and warm the hands of those with poor circulation.

  8. Grab your orange stick and gently push back cuticles. Clipping cuticles is now a no-no! Don't do it or you may risk an unsightly or painful infection.

  9. Take a pair of nail scissors or small clippers and clip off any hang nails - DO NOT pull them off, again: infection ladies!

  10. Use nail polish remover to wipe nails of any excess cream.

  11. Choose your nail color. Dark colors are more dramatic but may have to be repainted and maintained every few days. They can also make nails appear shorter. Light colors are easier to maintain, and you will be able to match your wardrobe with ease.

  12. When you begin to apply your polish, begin at the center of the nail with one stroke. Two more strokes on the side should do the trick. Only have enough polish on the brush for one line at a time.

  13. All polishes are different, but allow at least one minute of setting time before applying your second coat.

  14. Nails will dry in a couple of minutes, but to avoid unnecessary chipping and smudging, let your nails set for about 15 minutes before you start swinging a hammer again.

Additional Manicure Tips:

  • If you and your husband use the same set of clippers, you may want to boil them for about five minutes before use. Some men are prone to infection and it is easily passed through a set of clippers.

  • Check your filing job by running your nails over nylon. They should not snag or rip.

  • For a faster drying time, dip fingers into icy water about two minutes after you finish your second coat. Air dry.

  • Prevent nail polish lid from sticking by running a little petroleum jelly around the rim.

  • Drink lots of water! Especially in the dry winter months, it's easy for nails to chip and break. Make sure you are well hydrated.

  • Take a multi-vitamin: Pregnant women often comment on the strength of their nails; it is in part due to a regular intake of vitamins. So keep those nutrients coming.

  • If you are looking for an effective but expensive fix for your brittle nails, there are women who swear by Opi's Nail Envy. If you are at your wit's end, check it out.

Now that you have the tricks of the trade, take a little time for yourself. Giving yourself a manicure is a quick and easy way to clean up your look and get you back on top of your game.

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