As the summer takes heat, we begin to prepare all of our body parts for exhibition, bikini wear, and other such activities by primping, toning, and beautifying. Because the rising temperature also means that most of us will be wearing nail polish more often to show off our hands and toes, now is the right time to put a few extra minutes into proper nail care. Whether you decide to go bold or neutral, follow these easy steps to ensure soft, neat and smooth hands, the perfect canvas for a gorgeous manicure.
1. Take it Off
One of the most important steps to ensuring a long-lasting manicure involves removal. Because nail polish won’t adhere well to nails that are dirty or oily, it's crucial to wash your hands thoroughly to remove any lotions, dirt or oils before beginning the process. Once your hands are clean, brush each nail with a bit of nail polish remover, an extra step that ensures the removal of all oils from the nail itself and prepare it for accepting polish. Use a non-acetone nail polish remover, as they have less chemicals and a much more pleasant smell than ones with acetone.
Great buy: Cutex Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover $2.49
2. File Away
Polish will be more prone to peeling and flaking if the nails are rough around the edges or have ridges in them. Filing and buffing gives nails smoother surface so that polish won’t flake or crack. What looks young, clean, and fresh now is a shortish nail, straight across the top with rounded edges. To achieve this shape, file your nails in one direction starting at the edges and moving toward the top. Look for a file that fits perfectly into your hand and is easy to maneuver, navigating the nail bed to achieve a perfect manicure.
Great Buy: Sephora Hot Horizon Nail File Set $3
3. Exfoliate at Home
Keeping your nails looking good requires more than just filing and polishing. Attaining soft hands is equally as important if not the most important step, when it comes to achieving the perfect manicure. Just like you exfoliate your face and body, remove the dead skin cells and rough callouses on your hands by using a granulated scrub with oils and softening moisturizers. You can mix your own exfoliator at home by combining a little honey, a few drops of lemon, and one tablespoon of sea salt. Once you have combined those ingredients, massage the scrub over your hands for a few minutes. You will be surprised at how amazingly soft your hands will feel once you wash away the scrub.
4. Moisturize and Heal
Naturally, after a peel or exfoliating session, you should moisturize with a rich hand cream. However, make it a habit to use hand cream every day to keep your hands perpetually soft. To develop a ritual, moisturize your hands before you go to bed just as you would your face and body. Also, make sure to keep a little hand cream in your purse so that you can apply 2-3 times throughout the day, especially after washing your hands.
Great buy: Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer $15
5. Soften your Cuticles
While on the subject of moisturizing, lets talk about cuticles. Instead of cutting or snapping off your cuticles, which can lead to infections and irritability, dot a cuticle cream or oil on the cuticles and rub in. Sephora by OPI's Brush-On Cuticle Oil is a luxurious blend of five moisturizing oils and antioxidant vitamin E that nourishes dry cuticles. Another great perk to this pen, it comes in a leak-proof tube that is perfect for on-the-go use. Use this pen several times a week for healthy-looking nails.
Sephora by OPI Brush-On Cuticle Oil $9
6. Prime your Nails
Now that your hands are soft and smooth, it's time to apply a base coat. Because base coats are crucial to ensuring a long-lasting manicure, it would be a waste of your time if you decided to skip this step. Look for a nourishing base coat that also helps prevent staining. A good base coat will also smooth the nail surface, providing the ideal canvas for gorgeous nails, and also prolong the duration of your manicure.
Great buy: Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar Base Coat $14
7. Go Bold or Go Home
After you have primed your nails, let the base dry for a minute and then apply two coats of your favorite nail polish color. Always apply polish by starting on the side of the nail, a technique that ensures you cover the whole surface. You should be able to cover the nail in three stokes, one on each side and one in the middle. Summer is all about bright and bold colors, so have fun and experiment with different hues when picking a polish. Try one, if not all, of NARS Thakoon limited edition polishes which were inspired by the designer's Spring 2012 collection. Once you have applied your color, follow up with a top coat and get ready for a stunning show of hands.
Summer Favorite: NARS Thakoon Kutki-Powder Blue $18