beauty

How to avoid going to the nail salon ever again.

If there’s one thing my mum says that has always stuck with me, it’s that you can tell a lot by someone’s hands. How you look after them (or not) can reveal some telling things about your personality.

Long, dirty nails? A no-go. Half chipped and bitten down manicure? The worst. If you don’t care for your hands, they’ll instantly betray you. It doesn’t matter whether the rest of you is immaculate – if your hands are not, it can give off the impression of laziness and poor attention to detail.

While regular salon trips may seem like the obvious solution, it’s often difficult to find the time and justify the cost – especially when you can get salon-quality nails from the comfort of your own home. Yes, really.

Here’s how to nail it (see what I did there?)

Step 1: Prepping.

Always start with clean and dry feet and hands. For the full treatment, use a cuticle pusher to tidy up. Never, ever cut your cuticles as it’s an invitation for infection.

"Always start with clean and dry feet and hands." Image via iStock.

Step 2: Filing.

Short for time? Choosing a tool like the Scholl Electronic Nail Care System ($59.99) will make the whole process quicker and easier. A serious multitasker, the easy-to-use pen has three different heads for filing, buffing and polishing.

Put on the first filing head. Select your speed – normal is great to start, while a faster speed will add more shine to your nails. Moving in one direction, gently slide the pen across the nail, shaping as desired. You’ll get a much neater, more precise and even file than you would with a normal nail file, which can actually break and weaken the nail.

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Step 3: Buffing.

Buffing your nails will even out and smooth the nails surface, getting rid of ridges and creating the optimum base for your nail polish. Using the buffing nail head, gently move across the nail surface, taking care to avoid putting too much pressure on.

Once you’ve finished, wipe your nails with a damp cloth to clean and remove any debris.

"Buffing your nails will even out and smooth the nails surface, getting rid of ridges and creating the optimum base for your nail polish. " Image via iStock.

Step 4. Polish.

Gently go over each nail with the third head to polish your nails. The faster the speed, the more shine you will add.

Related: These are 10 most popular red nail polishes in the world.

Step 5. Nourish.

Apply a thin layer of nourishing oil like the Scholl Cuticle and Nail Oil ($14.99) all over the nail, making sure you massage right into the cuticle. If you want to leave your nails natural, this is the finishing step that will leave them beautifully shiny.

"Apply a thin layer of nourishing oil like the Scholl Cuticle and Nail Oil ($14.99) all over the nail, making sure you massage right into the cuticle." Image via iStock.
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Step 6. Colour.

Next, select your chosen nail polish colour – I love scarlet red or a midnight blue in winter, or something a little bolder in the warmer months.  If you want to really lengthen the life of your manicure, apply a thin layer of base coat before the colour.

When applying your polish, always start with a strip in the middle and work outwards. This will give you the greatest control and a neat finish. Paint one coat, allow it to dry, then apply a second coat to really build up the colour.

Apply a finishing coat to seal the deal and reduce the risk of chips and use a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover to neaten up any smudges.

Related: How a sharpie and alcohol can fix your chipped manicure.

After Care.

Smudged or chipped your nails and no time to repaint them? Rather than making them clumpy by hurriedly painting over the chips, using a glitter or sparkle polish over the area or even the whole nail is a great way to cover the cracks. In fact, it will actually make it look like you’ve spent even more time on them in the first place.

Long term, there are also things you can do to contribute to beautiful hands.

Keep a hand cream in your bag and apply twice daily to keep your hands looking and feeling soft and smooth, and don’t underestimate the benefit of drinking lots of water – your skin and nails will love you for it.

How do you take care of your nails?