But according to Director and Founder of Pure Chica, Janine Earl, it is possible to achieve salon-quality nails at home, as long as you follow a few simple steps.
Professional nails step 1: Maintenance 101.
Remember to moisturise in order to stop your cuticles from drying out and cracking, Janine says.
“Use a rich hand cream with vitamin E and apply often,” she tells Mamamia. “Also, apply a few drops of almond oil (coconut or olive oil will do the job, too) to your nails and cuticles twice a week religiously and massage in well. It works wonders to lock in moisture and strengthen your nails, prepping you for the perfect manicure.”
Professional nails step 2: Don’t Cut on the Cuticles.
Most dermatologists will advise against cutting your cuticles, as it opens the door for bacteria and infection to enter the nail fold.
Janine advises the use of a cuticle pusher (available at most good chemists) on softened nails. As long as you go gently.
"A great tip is to do this after a shower when the skin is soft and damp, or in the shower using your own nails," she says.
How young is too young to start having manicures? (Post continues below.)
Professional nails step 3: Embrace your shape.
"If your nails are brittle and prone to breaking then keep them short and oval shaped for a classic look that is easy to manage," argues Janine.
"Always keep a nail file in your handbag and in the car for any last-minute emergencies and stroke in one direction!"
Professional nails step 4: Base camp.
Freshly painted nails need a good foundation, so Janine and the folks at Pure Chica recommend always using a base coat.
"No need for a separate top coat as there are some great all-in-one base and top coat products that do the same job. Invest in one, as it protects your nails from being stained by the polish and makes the colour more even and solid, as well as prolonging your mani," she says.
Professional nails step 5: Three strokes to perfect polish.
Janine recommends keeping your shades seasonal and investing in good quality polish - it's worth it if you're after a professional looking finish. (Pure Chica use Kester Black in their pamper rooms; "they're high shine, vegan, cruelty-free, and free of all nasties".)
But then comes the tricky part. Application. "Not even the best manicurists can paint their own nails easily, but practice makes perfect," says Janine.
- "Start with your uneasy hand and paint the first coat, starting at the base and spreading the brush over the nail. Apply a thin stroke to the left, to the right, and then down the centre.
- "Finish with an all-in-one base coat/top coat to protect from chipping and add the perfect finishing touch.
- "To speed up the drying process you can run your nails under cold water for a few moments. Then pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and let them dry for at least 30 minutes before doing anything that might to ruin your handiwork!
- "Add a layer of top-coat every 2 days to prolong your polish and get a good 2 weeks out of your manicure."
Professional nails step 5: Give your nails a break.
To protect your nails from yellowing be sure to give the polish a rest occasionally.
"Just like our skin, nails need to breathe, so go au naturel every two weeks," Janine says. "Use a good quality non-acetone nail polish remover, preferably water-based."
Professional nails step 6: Stay cool, and DON'T shake it.
"If you don’t paint your nails regularly then a great tip is to store your polish collection in the fridge away from heat and sunlight which can make lacquer go lacklustre," Janine says.
"If your favourite colour gets a little gloopy then add a few drops of nail polish thinner or acetone, which will bring it back to life. And never shake the bottle or you'll risk air bubbles when you paint!"