Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do It Yourself: Katee’s Home Manicure Tips

My friend Jen contacted me the other day wanting to know my top tips for a fabulous at home manicure. Her main concerns were polish dry time and how to avoid getting nail polish on her cuticles and skin. So Jen, this post is for you!

First, get a top quality quick dry top coat. I like Seche Vite. I have also heard great things about Poshe Super Fast Drying Top Coat. I will say that Seche Vite is a little thick and might be difficult to apply for a “beginner,” so for that reason Poshe might be a good option. For me, the discovery of the quick dry top coat was like one of those moments where the clouds parted and I heard angels singing. Before this discovery, I could do my nails an hour before bedtime, and still wake up with sheet marks on my nails. Forget doing my nails during the middle of the day, because I would not be able to do anything for hours after that for the fear of denting or smudging my nails. With a coat of Seche Vite over my wet nail polish, my manicure is pretty much dry in 5 minutes; it’s rock hard, and both smudge and dent proof within 15 minutes. This stuff is amazing and has changed home manicures for me forever.

Unless you are ambidextrous, getting nail polish on your cuticles is pretty much unavoidable, at least when you are painting with your “other hand,” for me that would be my left hand. Practice makes perfect, and I have definitely gotten better over time since I’ve started painting my own nails on a regular basis. Since the little goofs are a fact of life, you need to get a nail polish corrector pen. I use the OPI Correct & Cleanup refillable pen. Sally Hansen also makes one that should be readily available at your local drug store. A Corrector Pen is essentially a marker that is filled with nail polish remover. Use this to “write” over the nail polish that got on your cuticles. I like using a product like this better than an orange wood stick and cotton because I like to keep cotton and wet nail polish as far away from each other as possible or else I end up with cotton in my wet polish!

Other tips:
Use a quality base coat like CND Sticky or Orly Bonder. Using a quality base coat and top coat will extend the wear of your nail polish and protect your nails from yellowing.

Get a crystal nail file. Not glass, crystal, and there is a difference. I like Essie's Crystal File which you can pick up at a beauty supply store. A crystal file will prevent nails from peeling and splitting. They also seal the edge of the nail preventing water damage. Don’t saw your nails when filing and avoid filing the sides of your nails. File slowly. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the mantra that you must file in one direction though. But, like I said don’t saw away at your nails, be gentle.
Use cuticle oil or balm, DAILY! I like CND Solar Oil and Solar Balm. Keeping your nails and cuticles hydrated is the single most important step to beautiful and healthy nails.
Well, there you go Jen! I hope these tips are helpful for you and that you’ll give it another go at painting your nails at home.


  1. you crack me up!
    Okay so I have all the stuff you mentioned, but not necessarily those brands...so maybe I'll need to check out those brands! I only have the solar oil..but I can't stand to use it everyday because I don't sit still long enough and I wipe my nails/hands too much. Which is why I HATE doing my nails...for me to sit still for 20 mins is a big joke. But I like your tips and I'm gonna make a better effort. Thanks for posting!

  2. Good tips. I need to check into one of those nail polish remover pens.

  3. Jen,

    Use the solar oil right before you go to bed - keep it on your night stand. Let me know when you decide to tackle the home mani again! Good luck :)


    OMG you have been missing out not using a corrector pen. Let me know how you like it when you get one! They are very inexpensive too.


  4. I have got to try the file & pen, thanks.

    I use posh I am afraid to try the seche but probably will soon.

  5. M,

    You will LOVE the pen! no joke!



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