Livin' La Vida Lucia

The Perfect Spa Manicure – At Home

By: Lucia Rossi

Just as much as you like to make up your face, your hands should get made up sometimes too.

In the winter, the cold weather can be really harsh on your skin, especially if you work with your hands.

If you’re bored at home, if it’s a rainy day, or if you just plain don’t feel like going to the salon and spending the money, here’s how you can perform an awesome spa treatment manicure on yourself. Be sure you have plenty of time to do this to get the full effect.

Easy strawberry nails

Easy strawberry nails

I’ve searched the internet and several sites suggest different methods and different steps to do it, so feel free to change them as you please. Work with what you have and do what you’re most comfortable with. But from the research, this is what I think will work well.

First, lay your hands on a dry towel, just like at the salon. Take some nail polish remover on a cotton ball and remove your previous nail polish if you have any.

If you have a dark polish on, use acetone on it and hold the cotton ball on each finger for 10 seconds and then wipe downwards to get it off more easily.

Then, grab a bowl big enough for both your hands and fill it with warm water. Add some moisturizing soap or oil if you feel like getting fancy. It will help cleanse and soothe your hands as well as prepare you for the next steps. If your skin is cracked or peeling, be careful with this step.

Place your nails into the water and let them soak for about 5 minutes or so. Watch something online, on television, or listen to some music to help pass the time. Remember, this time is dedicated to you so try to get relaxed.

A nail look I did based on Disney Princesses

A nail look I did based on Disney Princesses

Take a clean brush and gently clean underneath and around the nails to get rid of dirt and dead skin. The dry them completely with the towel.

Next step is easy, clip your nails using the nail clipper. Think about how long or short you want your nails to be and what shape you want. Do you like them pointy, round, oval, square, or squoval (square nails with softened edges)?

Next, file your nails. Try to do this with a light hand and move the file in one direction. As much as you may be used to it, doing the sawing motion back and forth could damage your nails. Also, never file your nails when they are damp. If you like, try filing underneath your nails in one direction as well.

The next step is my favorite, buffing. Drugstores sell cheap buffers with 3 or 4 sides on it that really help get rid of ridges on your nails and makes them super shiny and smooth. This product is great even if you don’t want a full blown manicure and you just want to keep it natural. Take the buffer and move it up and down each nail and see the difference in the light.

Take your cuticle pusher or an orange stick (it’s not actually an orange stick it’s called orange because it’s made from orange wood :] ) and gently push back your cuticles. Add cuticle remover if you like and with the stick or pusher go back and rub away the excess.

At this point, you can cut your cuticles. I like to because mine grow in pretty thick so they are bothersome. However, be aware that your cuticles are there to protect your nails from bacteria and infections. Do cut your hang nails though so you don’t bite them or rip them off.

Add cuticle oil on each nail and massage it in. Leave it on for about 30-60 seconds so your nail can soak up the moisture. If you don’t have cuticle oil, try a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil if you have. That would do the trick.]

Beaded nails done with Forever 21's Love & Beauty nail set

Beaded nails done with Forever 21’s Love & Beauty nail set

Next, it’s exfoliation time. You can make an easy exfoliator for your hands by mixing olive oil with salt or sugar, or lemon juice, sugar and extra virgin olive oil. No need to buy an expensive one. Rub the mixture in your hands for a minute or two and wash it off.

Lotion up! Pick out your favorite hand or body cream and massage your hands with it. Your hands will be really moisturized and get baby soft. Do your arms and elbows as well because they need love too and let it set in.

Then swipe some nail polish remover over your nails to remove oil so your polish can adhere better. Then immediately rinse off.

Use a base coat or a nail strengthener on your nails first. Before you apply your color coats, roll the bottle in your hands to remove bubbles, don’t shake it.

The best way to apply nail polish is to start before the nail bed and push up. Do one stripe down the middle then another on each side. Take your time and if you mess up, it’s okay! Being ambidextrous can be really difficult and it takes practice.

Keep a Q-tip nearby with your polish remover. If you want to be extra careful, put petroleum jelly around your nail for an easy wipe off, or even Elmer’s glue. Yeah, you heard me.

Apply your second coat and now is the funnest part, decorations! Go with the flow and let your creative side come out. You could use stickers, dotting tools, stripers, gems, whatever you want. If you want nail design inspiration, go on YouTube and check out CutePolish, she’s a pro at simple yet trendy designs. You could even search on Pinterest or Google, find whatever catches your eye.

Allow 10 minutes for your nails to dry before doing your top coat so your nail designs won’t smudge. If you’re kind of impatient like me after doing the top coat, there are a couple of ways to dry your nails faster. You could dip your nails in ice water for 2-3 minutes (painful but true), use a canned dust blower (but keep your nails at a safe distance), cooking spray (no, seriously), and a hair dryer on the cool setting (hot air will keep your nails wet for longer).

Glitter nails I did with Glow in the Dark nail polish

Glitter nails I did with Glow in the Dark nail polish

Show your nails the same love you would your face and protect them by wearing gloves when you wash dishes. If your nails are tough to grow out, try taking biotin vitamin supplements and using nail strengtheners.

Enjoy this “You” time and remember that doing your nails are a part of your self- expression. Take this freedom and create something beautiful that makes you happy. When you shake someone’s hand, show who you are and be proud.

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