make-up monday: DIY professional manicure

I'm a hairstylist, which means I attended cosmetology school to learn how to do all aspects of hair, plus make-up, some skincare, and even nails-- manicures and pedicures. so I now work in a salon & spa where my main focus is hair... but I sometimes do manicures and pedicures in the spa. I'll admit, it's not my favorite by any means, but I am thankful for acquiring another skill to fill my days with appointments when I'm not busy behind the chair. 

so this means over the past few years I have perfected my own personal method for the best professional manicure in very little time that is super easy to do on yourself at home! here I will show you what I use and what I do step by step to achieve beautifully groomed nails. these same steps can be done on your toes for the perfect pedi too!

what you'll need:

  • old towel
  • small bowl with warm, soapy water
  • acetone nail polish remover [must be acetone!]
  • cuticle remover
  • hand lotion
  • nail clippers
  • cuticle pusher [preferably sharp]
  • cuticle nippers
  • nail file/fine grit emery board
  • buffing block
  • orange wood stick
  • cotton balls
  • base coat
  • nail color of your choice [Revlon 'Long Shot' gel polish]
  • top coat

let's get started!

1 // remove any existing polish from your nails, then apply cuticle remover to your cuticle area, rub in, and soak your fingers in your bowl of warm, soapy water.

2 // remove and dry hands, then use cuticle pusher to push back excess cuticle skin growing over the nail bed. this will help your polish adhere to the nail better and last longer! this can be kind of gross, but worth it ;)

3 // next, use cuticle nippers to clip away hang nails and excess cuticle, but be sure to not cut away "live" skin around the nail. your actual cuticles are important to the health of your nails as they prevent bacteria from going under your skin and nails causing infection!

4 // clip your nails to desired length. I needed to even mine out so they are very short now, but you can skip this step and move on to filing if you like the length they are!

5 // use your nail file or emery board to shape and smooth your nails-- round, square, squoval, whatever you prefer! make sure there are no sharp edges.

6 // next, use the buffing block to smooth out any ridges on the top of your nails and clean the surface of any excess cuticle or sharp edges on the tips.

7 // when your nail work is complete, apply some of your favorite hand lotion and massage into your hands and especially around your cuticle area.

8 // this is the most important step in achieving a lasting, professional manicure!!! apply some acetone nail polish remover to a cotton ball and rub it over the nail bed to remove any trace of oil and moisture that will prevent the nail polish from adhering to the nail. this is so important, because even after drying your nails of the water from soaking or washing your hands, the moisture will evaporate after the polish is applied, causing the polish to peel off your nails! the acetone will remove all moisture and oil. rubbing alcohol will have the same affect! do not skip this step!

9 // always use a base coat before applying your colored polish! nail polish [especially dark colors] will stain or "yellow" your natural nails with continuous wear. a base coat will help your manicure last longer and prevent any discoloration from happening.

10 // apply color! 2 coats, of course! always start applying in the center of the nail, dragging brush from the cuticle to the tip of the nail to get the best and cleanest coverage.

11 // after you've applied 2 coats of your chosen color and before you apply the top coat, put a small piece of cotton ball around your orange wood stick and dip it in the acetone. go around the edges of any places you may have messed up a little bit. this will allow your nails to dry a bit more in between coats and keep it looking professional!

12 // finally, apply the top coat!

done! perfectly manicured nails

let them dry sufficiently before doing anything. usually I will read a book, watch YouTube videos, or do something to distract myself from using my hands too soon!

I hope you found this tutorial helpful! I have done many, many manicures and pedicures and this process has been the longest lasting and most successful. my clients are always happy and say their nails last a long time-- I hope yours do too!

x's + o's
kaitlin elaine

[thanks Lonnie Webb for taking these photos!]