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While we all love going to a salon to get our nails done, time and money ultimately play a factor in that frequency. At home manicures and pedicures are definitely are a lot cheaper and with the right tools, can be just as good. Most importantly, they force you to relax. Once you get the paint on your nails you can’t touch a thing. So put on a good movie, pour a glass of wine or tea and get painting!
Here are five of our must-have nail essentials for the at-home mani/pedi, obviously there are so many more great ones, tell us what we missed!
If you are like us, you always have some color on your nails and it needs to be removed before the new color comes in. Also, it’s easy to get sloppy if you aren’t ambidextrous, which most of us aren’t. Painting the hand you write with is a test of patience, but not an insurmountable feat. We like to pull the cotton off a q-tip, dip it in the remover and use it like a pen to clean away all the paint we got outside the lines. Much cheaper than a nail polish remover pen too.
Our favorite nail polish remover is No Miss Almost Natural Nail Polish Remover. It is ethically sourced, vegan and smells like vanilla. There is no acetone or ethyl-acetate in it. It takes a little extra scrubbing, but the smell is so much better and the notably absent ingredients are important. Almost all nail polish removers contain those two active ingredients, which are solvents used to break up the nail polish and remove it. Acetone is highly flammable, and while it will breaks up the nail polish faster it also damages your nails. Ethyl-acetate is softer and used in many fragrances (hence the non-acetone polishes you see in stores), but No Miss doesn’t use either, and actually moisturizes your nail beds while stripping away the color. The vanilla scent is pretty awesome too.
This really is a must-have for the at-home manicure. If you don’t soften your cuticles, the nail polish will peel up around them and chip around the nail bed, essentially wasting the time you spent delicately painting each nail. Plus, soft cuticles prevent cuticle peeling, which leads to those bleeding hang nails and other painful and unsightly side effects on your fingers.
We find it works best to clip your nails, file them and use a cuticle trimmer before jumping in the shower, when you get out your skin will be clean and supple– ready to absorb the oil. Before you begin applying the nail polish, slather a healthy dose of the cuticle oil all over the nail, nail bed and skin surrounding. Let it sit for a couple minutes until it looks like your skin has absorbed most of the oil, then gently massage the remaining oil into each nail. It is a relaxing practice before you get into the focus of painting and it makes your hands smell amazing, as a pure apricot oil should!
A good base coat is a must-have because if you don’t use them, many nail polishes will stain your nails yellow. Also, no one likes peeling, chipping nails that ruin the color of the actual manicure.
Orly Rubberized Bonder seals the nail to prevent chipping at the ends, it helps the color go on smoother and stick in just the right ways when you use it, and it makes the manicure last up to two weeks!
Ladybud was recently sent some beautiful colors from NCLA, whose motto is “Put a little California on your fingertips.” The colors are inspired by the company’s roots in Southern California, and also the glam factor of style-rich Los Angeles.
We used Not So Sweet a delicate pink shade inspired by cotton candy, but also reminiscent to us as the smooth backside of a seashell. The paint goes on slightly watery but dries so beautifully your nails will look like acrylics, not painted.
We also got to play with Sugar Fix, which like a lot of other popular nail polishes these days, has layers of glitter within it. Do four to five layers, and allow them to patiently dry in between. The more layers, the darker the gray gets and the starker the contrast between the magenta and turquoise confetti inside. It creates a really fun look that is eye catching but not exorbitantly gaudy, like a futuristic tech-metal for grown up tastes. If you squint hard it also looks like the pink sunset sun gleaming off a Los Angeles skyscraper as seen from the 10 freeway.
They make a great range of colors appropriate for both professional and fun looks, check them out! Word of advice, be very careful about letting them dry completely, that acrylic look is amazing but they sometimes feel dry when they aren’t. Sit back and pour another glass of wine (or two) and let them really dry for a good solid chunk of time.
There are a lot of good topcoats out there. Some are good because they encase the color in a clear glasslike capsule and preserve the shade’s beauty. We like Orly Sec N’ Dry mainly because it works so fast. It is a thinner fluid than most top cots and the polish itself gets hard within a minute or so of application. We like to even use it to dry the polish before sealing in another top coat. This is really an essential to all you impatient people like us.