A week or so ago, I sat down and wrote out my at-home manicure routine for a few friends. I thought I'd share it with you all today.
To start, if your nails are weak, peeling, or cracking, I suggest Nail Magic. You should be able to find it in places like Sally Beauty Supply or Walgreens. Just follow the directions on the bottle/packaging, and it really does work wonders.
Ok, on to my basic routine. I'll scatter some photos of my "tools" throughout the post.
My first step is to remove my old polish.
I use acetone polish remover and lint free cotton pads. Some people prefer cotton balls or even felt scraps. *If I am removing a glitter polish or a very dark polish, I soak the cotton pad with remover and wrap the pad around my fingertips and then use a strip of foil to hold it onto my fingertips for about 5 minutes. The foil method works like a charm.
After I've removed my old polish, my next step is to use Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. I only use this twice per week.
I apply it to each cuticle and leave it on for 1 minute. Then I use my cuticle pusher to gently push all of my cuticles back.
After this, I wash my hands with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly.
My next step is to shape and file my nails with my crystal nail file. I shape them all to the same shape and get them as close to the same length as possible.
After shaping my nails, I scrub them with a nail brush, a gentle soap, and warm water. And again, I dry them thoroughly.
Once a month I use my 3-way buffer on my nails, and lightly buff them to get rid of small ridges and bumps, I DO NOT suggest you do this step until your nails are healthy and in good shape. Too much buffing can damage your nail bed and cause splitting and cracking.
After buffing my nails, I rinse them with warm water and dry them thoroughly.
My next step is to apply a basecoat. If I am in a hurry, I use Orly Bonder. It dries quickly. If I'm not in a hurry, I use Sally Hansen Double Duty. It's a combination basecoat and topcoat. *Note that it may take time to find a basecoat and topcoat that work well for you. Sometimes body chemistry can affect their performance.
After my basecoat is dry, I then apply my first coat of polish. I suggest Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, if you're just starting out with at-home manicures. It's very forgiving and has excellent coverage. If you are impatient and want something that dries fast, I suggest Sally Hansen Instra-Dri polish. It's not as forgiving, but it does dry very fast. Almost all of the Sally Hansen polishes are easy to find, offer good coverage, and you can't beat the price.
After my first coat is totally dry (average of 10 minutes for me) I apply my second coat of polish. If the second coat doesn't give me the coverage I like, I wait for it to dry and apply a third coat. Remember to keep your coats fairly thin, to avoid pooling and for even drying.
After applying my last coat of polish, I soak an E.L.F. concealer brush in remover (or pure acetone, if it's a very dark color or has a lot of glitter) and go to town, cleaning up my cuticles. Please remember that it's OK to not have that wall-to-wall carpet look on your nails. It's actually usually prefered to leave a gap all the way around. It makes your nail beds seem longer and thinner.
If I am in a hurry, I use a fast drying topcoat called Seche Vite. It's a little spendy, but it does dry very fast. It can also be applied before your final coat of polish is dry, as long as you use a light hand, to avoid dragging. If I'm not in a hurry, I use another coat of Sally Hansen Double Duty, after my final coat of polish is dry.
*** Please note that if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you will need to do some research. Some products, like Seche Vite, should probably not be used by expecting mothers. You can Google "4 free polish" and "3 free polish" and get some decent info on the subject. ***
After my topcoat is totally dry (if I'm using a regular top coat, that would be about 10 minutes for me) I usually take photos of my new manicure.
After I've taken photos, I apply Bert's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. It smells awesome and works really well. It's a little oily when first applied, so I only use it when I know I'm not going to need to touch any delicate fabric. I typically apply it right before bed, and first thing in the morning.
And that's it. I hope this helps!