Different color on every finger? A single accent nail? Glam red? Edgy emerald? You pick! We’re here simply for the prep and polish steps so your at-home manicure looks great and lasts longer than a hot second. Manicurist Lauren Oertel, who did the girls’ nails for our GLU Girls Like You Nail Kit photo shoot, takes over as teacher.
PREP: Wash your hands, then roll a bit of cuticle oil on each finger and massage it in. Why moisturize? It softens the cuticles (that’s the layer of skin around your nail bed), which helps with the overall look. Dampen a washcloth with warm water, then gently push it around the edges of your cuticles a couple times, moving from the tip to the nail base. This cleans up the area and makes the finished effect sleeker.
Use remover to swipe away the oil and any dust on your nail beds. As Oertel puts it, “This is one of the most important steps for longevity.” Rub the grittiest side of your buffer over each nail. By lightly roughing up the texture of the nail plate, you create a latch-able surface for polish. Think of it like a party updo: Adding grit to your hair with hairspray or cream prevents your finest braids from pulling a Cinderella at midnight.
TRIM AND FILE: Decide what shape and length you want (we’re partial to short and round), and use the clippers accordingly. Trim from one end to the other. Now comes filing. Oertel likes to go from one side to the center of the nail, then from the other side to the center (band girls may understand this analogy: “like using a bow on a stringed instrument,” Oertel explains).
Repeat this back-and-forth process till you hit your desired look, then run the file over the tip to soften the shape there. Slide the edge of the file or buffer under the tip of each nail to make sure there’s no leftover nail or skin.
POLISH + BASE COAT: Our GLU Nail Kit contains five polishes that have base coat built into the formula, but if you’re using a separate base and polish, just repeat the following steps with each. Paint three—now listen up, ‘cause this is key!—thin strokes onto each nail: left, center, right. (If you glop it on, says Oertel, “it wouldn’t even dry properly if you waited for an hour because it’s sitting in a pool of liquid.”) Finish the fingers on one hand before moving to the other hand, then repeat the entire shebang.
CLEANUP AND TOP COAT: See any smudges? Now’s the time for a cleanup brush, which is like a small paintbrush to fix any mistakes. Dip the tip into remover and run it over any color on your skin. Finish with top coat—the three-coat method again, with a final swipe across the horizontal tip of each nail, where chips start, to create a seal.
Let everything set for 30 minutes. Oh, you’ve heard it only takes 10? Wish we could say that would cut it, but we’re no liars. While your nails may feel dry in 10, the color won’t have completely solidified—and that’s when you end up with a streak or dent. No thanks.
Any questions? If so, or if you’re more of a visual learner, check out our GLU How-to video tutorial