Nailed It

I have a confession—I don’t like getting my nails done. I don’t like it so much that I’ve perfected doing my own nails at home. I’m going to teach you how to as well–in case you’re like me.

I know this is probably a rather unpopular opinion, but I’m not someone who looks forward to sitting in a chair doing nothing. I’ve kind of always been like this, but it got worse when I had kids. The first problem is that I don’t like small talk. I’d rather sit in silence than feel like I need to talk. But I’m also nice and I don’t want the person who is working away on my vanity to feel like he or she isn’t worth the time to speak with. Does anyone else ever have this narrative in your head? At one time I had a friend doing them and that was much more enjoyable because she was my pal. But strangers, it’s awkward for me–likely for them as well.

Also, I can always think of things I’d much rather be doing and, lets face it, finding time to sneak away from three children to get them done isn’t always that easy or at the top of my priority list. Let’s be honest, if I’m sneaking away it’s probably to go have coffee with a friend or go for a walk to clear my cluttered mind.

I hate pedicures even more. I know. Don’t get made at me! I just really don’t like people touching my feet. I always sit in wonder while reading about how much women love getting their feet rubbed. I’d likely kick Kurtis in the face. I have really ticklish feet, though, so that doesn’t help. I also have shin splints that still flare up on occasion and once I was getting a pedicure and the person doing my leg message had me in tears from the pain. I’m like Pavlov’s dog–every time I sit in the chair I remember that incident.

Anyway, I’m digressing. Once I had kids, I realized that staying up on bi-weekly manicures wasn’t something I felt like committing myself to in my date book. BUT, I really liked gel nails. I wasn’t into acrylic and regular polish didn’t stay well with all that I had going on daily, so the gel was a happy medium for me. My sister-in-law recommended just doing them myself. I was floored and clearly living under a rock because I didn’t realize that option existed. She hooked me up with a kit to use and taught me the process. It was so much simpler than I thought it would be, worked on my nails and allowed me the freedom to do my own nails on my own terms. No more stressing about booking appointments or finding someone to watch the kids while I went. Now I could pour a wine and do them at midnight in my jammies if I wanted.

I’m not a professional and by no means pretend to be one, but after a few years of practice I’ve gotten pretty good. Good enough to the point that the last time I went out and had them done in Midland, I felt like it was a complete waste of money and I could’ve done a better job on them myself. Is this a bash against nail techs or the nail industry or anyone who enjoys getting his or her nails done–no. I honestly hate I have to even clarify this but I will for the one person reading who would take it that way. This is simply my own opinion and perspective and just in case you are in any way like me—either stressing to find the time, tired of spending the money, wanting more flexibility or just to have the option in case you’re ever on lockdown again—I want to share with you the super simple steps to doing your own nails from home. I’ve got a few tips at the end so be sure to read until then so you don’t miss those.

First of all, you need tools. You can’t really cut too many corners here. My recommendation is snagging a kit. It may seem costly up front, but I’ve had mine for almost six years and it has paid for itself and then some and is still working the same as the day I purchased it. It has also saved me a lot of money compared to going and getting them done. I’m also still on my first bottles of the base and top coats that came with it. It’s linked here. If the whole kit is a bit too steep, I found a great light here. It has good reviews and is at a great price point. I’ve also found the kit basics less the light here. Put those two together and you are in business. You will also want a few other optional tools—foils for removing the polish, cuticle trimmer and pusher set, wood sticks, and nail files. I definitely recommend these as well to get your best finished product. Last, you need some polish. The great thing about the kit I linked is although it’s Gelish brand, it works with OPI, CND and more. OPI and CND are some of my favorites and Romantique, Big Apple Red, That’s Hula-rious, Alpine Snow, My Private Jet, Purple Purple and I Eat Mainly Lobster are a few of my favorite colors. 

Step 1: Remove any polish from your nails. File them, trim them, trim your cuticles and get those babies in good shape. You will also want to use a cuticle pusher to push down your cuticles—this is important. Then, gently buff the tops (not tips) of your nails. This will remove the natural oils on the top layer of your nails. You can also use this–Scrub Fresh. Whichever method, this step is very necessary so don’t skip it—it’s what helps improve bond adhesion to the nail. 

Step 2: Apply your pH Bond. Simply polish your nails with a thin layer. Make sure you get all the crevices and don’t miss any spots. No need to cure in your light. Just apply and move on to step 3.

Step 3: Apply the foundation (base coat). This stuff is a bit goopy, so make sure you scrape off any excess before applying. All you need is a thin layer. Place your hand in your light and cure for 15 seconds.

Step 4: Apply first coat of color. Do not apply thick coats on any of these steps. A thin coat will do the trick. Make sure you pay attention to the tips of your nails and sides as sometimes the color will pull away. Once you have the first coat on, cure for 45 seconds. 

Step 5: Apply a second coat of color. Same story. Thin coat, make sure you cover the sides and tips and cure for 45 seconds. If you get outside of the nail just use your wood stick to clean up the edges. 

Step 6: Apply Top It Off (top coat). Make sure to scrape off the sides of the wand before applying. Apply another thin coat but be sure to cover all of the nail. Cure for 45 seconds. Cure for 45 seconds. That wasn’t a typo. It may be the OCD in me, but I always do two rounds of 45 seconds on this step to make sure they’re cooked. One application, two rounds in the light.

Step 7: Apply Surface Cleanse to a flat cotton pad or paper towel and gently rub/polish the tops of your nails. After this, they will be squeaky clean and dry.

Step 8: Apply a cuticle oil to sooth your fingers. They tend to dry out after this process and the oil will help hydrate them. Repeat the process with your other hand. That’s it! 

A few tips…

1.) Do one hand at a time. Focus on nailing (ha, ha) the first hand and then it will be done and dry while you do your second hand.

2.) For your first few times doing this, choose a neutral or lighter color. Bold colors are a little harder to work with and show flaws. Practice with lighter more forgiving colors first. I made this mistake and did red for my first time and it was a bit of a disaster. 

3.) If the color at the tips of your nails seems to be pulling away in-between the first and second coat of color, try this trick. Halfway through curing the first coat, pull out your hand and cap off the tips with a very thin bit of color and put them back in to cure. This will help so that there isn’t polish missing at the tips.

4.) The polish should last two weeks or so depending. To remove, simply apply the remover you purchase (or that comes in your kit) to the foils that I linked above. Leave them on your fingers for ten minutes or so and then remove and use one of your wood sticks to gently scrape off the polish. It should remove quite easily. Again, do one hand at a time. If it doesn’t remove easily, put the foils back on and let them sit for an additional five minutes or so and try again. 

That’s it! Once you do this one or two times you will have the hang of it and you may just find yourself going to the salon less and less. Have fun with it—I will even do glitter or decals for kicks if I’m going to an event or feeling a little jazzy. If you give it a try be sure to let me know in the comments below. Happy polishing!

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