You Need: a good emery board, a cuticle eraser (stone-looking stick with rounded tip-easy to find online), base coat, polish (gel looks great but is not good for nails), topcoat, skin cream, bowl of warm, sudsy water, a few q-tips or an orange stick with a tiny bit of cotton around the end. Add polish remover (low or no alcohol) and cotton pads if you’re starting with color.
Leave a book, magazine, TV remote and perhaps a drink of something nearby for afterwards. Glasses if you’re going to need them. No hitting keys or opening drawers!
Take polish off with easy, circular movement. Adding too much solution or pressing hard does little, repetition works. Toss used up pads.
Dip fingers of one hand into sudsy water a moment. Dry.
File nails to desired shape. Square with rounded edges or a generous oval. Don’t take too much off of sides, ’causes breakage.
Dip cuticle eraser into water. Gently push cuticles back. DO NOT CLIP. ‘Gives nails less support when growing.
Massage hand (not nails) with cream. Feels good, softens skin. Now the other hand.
Apply base coat on one hand, then the other. Apply polish on one hand, then the other. Repeat. Hands should alternately receive two coats of polish.
Applying polish: Across the top, tips first. Should cover a little in front, a little in back. Palms up. Then turn hand over and apply polish to front of nail. Bottom to top will give you more control. A few strokes should do it. Wait a few minutes.
Apply topcoat the same way you apply polish.
Use the orange stick or q-tip to clean edges.
Unless the weather is damp, it will take around 30 minutes to dry. If you’re impatient, you’ll have gone through the entire ceremony for nothing. Feet take 50 – 60 minutes to dry. Toes should be separated by folded over tissues. Watch out for high pile carpets and pets.
Keep Them Longer: Buy Solar Oil. The brand CND makes a good one. Dab under nails shortly before going to bed. Use sparingly and you’ll be fine vis a vis sheets. (Also washes out.) Helps prevent nails from drying/ splitting. More importantly, buy Orly Cuticle Cream, rub gently into cuticles before sleep. Keeps them from becoming ragged.
If your polish chips, fix with base, polish, and topcoat.
Top photo: Bigstock