I did my own nails for my wedding last week, so I thought I would share with you how I did my nails and what my nail routine leading up to the wedding was!
Supplies: Moisturizer, cuticle oil, a bowl, nail clippers, nail file (at least three grits), cuticle stick, base coat, top coat, colour.
My first step is always to make sure my hands are well moisturized. I have been using a number of different products, basically anything that I have around that will do the trick. I’ve used The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream, The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector and the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion in the past few weeks. I always follow up the lotion with a cuticle oil on my cuticles and nail (I’ve been using Julep’s cuticle and nail oil) to try to prevent nasty hang nails.
Now, that’s my every day routine for my hands. But when I’m giving myself a manicure it’s a bit different.
First off, I shape my nails with E.L.F.’s Essential Nail block, following the directions on the block. First by shaping my nails with the “File” side, then removing the ridges with the “Remove Ridges” side, followed by the buffing side and lastly the polish side. I usually buff the tops of my nails too to get rid of any peeling that may be starting. I resand every nail with each side until I am satisfied with their state. These four different grits prevent your nails from ripping and peeling after your manicure.
Note: if you do buff the tops of your nails, do so gently. You don’t want to actually take nail off – just smooth it out and get rid of any potential tears. Sanding the tops of your nail down makes them brittle and weak, and that’s just not fun for anyone.
Once your nails are all shaped and smooth, soak your hands in a bowl of warm water. I do this one hand at a time so that I still have one hand free for other things, but it’s totally up to you. This will soften the skin around your nails while freeing any nail remains from the filing you just did.
Keep your hand in there for a few minutes or until you get bored. Then take your cuticle stick and start pushing up your cuticles. Get all along the sides of your nails, including underneath your nails to clean out any gunk or nail filings that might have stuck around. This step will prevent hang nails – hurray!
Once that’s done, use your nail scissors to trim any skin that you just pushed up. You can also use these scissors to clean up any dead skin or excess nail that’s hanging around after you used your cuticle stick.
Now you’ve got clean, fresh nails ready to paint!
Next you’ll want to grab your base coat – I use Essie’s Grow Stronger – and paint a thin layer over your nails. Once that is dry, I apply another thin coat over just the tips of my nails – I find that helps to stop chipping.
Now colour! Pick whichever colour or colours you’ve chosen for your manicure and paint away! I chose Essie’s Limo-scene beneath Essie’s Full Steam Ahead so that the colour of Full Steam Ahead popped. I always start painting in the middle so that I can get rid of any ridges that occur as I’m painting, rather than painting over the layer again. I also recommend doing your coats in thin layers – it’s easier to paint more layers than to paint one thick layer that doesn’t dry properly. Also make sure that your polish dries completely between coats – I usually wait between 20 – 30 minutes.
Now the top coat. Apply a thin layer to each nail. Let it dry, and apply another thin layer to the tips to once again help prevent chipping. I use Essie’s No Chips Ahead.
And we’re done! I’m usually a very messy painter when it comes to manicures, though somehow I managed to keep this one pretty clean. When I do get an excess of polish on my skin I usually leave the polish until the next morning in my shower. Nail polish doesn’t stick to the skin so it will come off pretty easily with a good wash.
I would suggest you don’t shower the night you do your nails, I did and ended up having to repaint mine the day of the wedding because the paint cracked and flaked off on me. I learned my lesson not to rush things! 😉