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Secrets from a Manicurist for Perfect DIY Nails


In my book, if there is one telltale sign of a woman who has really got her act together, it would be a perfect manicure. Since I don’t have the patience to maintain weekly manicures, I am always impressed by other women who do. My friend Stacy (the one with the great hair) is one of these impossibly pulled-together women. Her nails are always trim and polished in a classy nude or other season-appropriate hue. Having spent over 3 years as a manicurist, she’s definitely got the nail know-how I lack and happily shared how to get perfect salon nails without ever leaving home.

Her nail kit musts: nail polish remover, cotton pads, alcohol, OPI Bond Aid, base coat, OPI or Essie brand nail polish, Nailtiques formula 2, OPI Drip Dry, nail file (180/400 grit), nail clippers, cuticle trimmers, and an orange stick (not pictured).

First, start by removing any nail polish remnants from previous manicures.
If your nails are on the longer side, trim them with nail clippers. Don’t ever shorten them (if you have a long way to go) by filing them down as this can weaken them.
Using the rougher side of the nail file, shape your nails. Then use the finer side of the nail file to smooth out any rough edges.
Trim any hang nails you might have. Stacy doesn’t believe in manicures which remove a lot of cuticle so her rule is only cut it if it’s white and waving in the wind!
Prep nails with a spritz of alcohol. This removes any oils and filing dust from the nails.
Apply a coat of Bond Aid, a nail dehydrator which will ensure your polish sticks.
Next, apply a base coat.
Apply 2 coats of your nail color. Stacy’s wearing OPI in Most Honorable.
Use an orange stick to clean up any excess polish that gets on your cuticles or skin. (Having just discovered orange sticks, I wish I had learned about them earlier — they are so simple, yet so helpful!)
Stacy swears by Nailtiques Formula 2 as a top coat. (I’ve used it when my nails were splitting and it really helped.)
Finally, squeeze a few OPI Drip Dry drops over your manicure. This helps set your polish so they can dry quicker and they lend a little extra shine. Your nails will be dry to the touch in 10 minutes and fully dry in 2 hours. Manicures given a little extra care and attention (see Stacy’s additional tips below) last between 7 and 10 days.
(A big thanks to Stacy and Daniel Garcia for the photography help!)

Last modified: January 10, 2019