Before you begin your manicure, establish a work space for your manicure by assembling your tools to include: nail polish remover/pure acetone, a non-porous plastic bowl (not used for eating), nail files, nail buffing block, nail clippers, nail brush, orangewood stick, cuticle cream, hand cream, cotton balls, cotton swabs, paper towel, rags and of course nail polish. It is also recommended to have near a sink with running water, and hand towels handy for use.
Always protect the surface that you are planning to work on. Many nail polishes and polish removers can damage many surfaces. Wearing old clothing and using rags or newspapers can help protect your clothes and surfaces to prevent spills and soak through.
It is good to pick a location that is well ventilated due to the vapors in certain nail products. Many solvents and vapors in nail products are flammable, so also keep them away from open flame and do not smoke during your manicure. Also, be sure to pick an area where there is little debris in the air. For example, if you have pets, try not to work on your manicure around pets because pet dander in the air can damage your manicure.
Remove old nail polish . Remove any old nail polish from your nails by soaking hands in nail polish remover or by using cotton balls to remove old polish. Please note that some nail polish removers may make your nails and surrounding skin appear dry. If you have acrylic or gel nails, you may want to choose a nail polish that will not remove them.
Cut and shape your nails. Cut, file and/or shape your nails using your nail clippers to trim your nails. This is also a good time to shape your nails with your nail file. Be sure not to cut your nails too short. One rule of thumb when trimming nails is that you should be able to see at least a small sliver of the white tip, all the way across your nail bed. Create a smooth and clean shape by gently filing one way across the nail by pivoting the hand with each stroke.
Buff your nails. Using a buffing block, buff the nail surface to smooth out any ridges on the nail. Use a soft, flexible buffer to make buffing the sides of your nail a bit easier.
Soak your nails. Using a sink with a drain stopper, or a small non-porous bowl, fill it with lukewarm water and a few drops of your favorite hand soap. Soak your hands in the water for about 3-5 minutes to loosen any dirt or dead skin, and to soften the cuticles. After soaking your nails, use a nail brush to gently clean your nails surface and underneath to remove any dirt, while also pay attention to the surrounding skin.
Push your cuticles back. After soaking your hands, wash your hands in lukewarm water and dry your nails and apply a cuticle cream. Using an orangewood stick, also called a cuticle pusher/remover, gently push back your cuticles. Never force your cuticle back, or cut your cuticles as this can cause infection. After pushing your cuticles back, it is okay to rinse your hands if you would like to.
Apply your favorite hand cream. After having pushed your cuticles back, take a dime-sized amount of your favorite lotion or hand cream and massage it into your clean hands. Allow the lotion to dry on your hands before proceeding to the next step.
Polish your nails! Now it is time to pick your favorite color of nail polish . Shake the color you want to use very well before opening in case the nail polish has settled. Begin to paint your nails by using a thin coat. Slowly paint one vertical stripe down the very center of your nail, followed by another stripe on either side of the first stroke. Try to paint the nail polish all the way to the edge, while trying not to move your nails too much to avoid smudging your fresh coat of polish. Wait around 10-15 minutes for the nail polish to dry. After waiting, apply a second coat of nail polish . After the first coat has dried, apply a second coat. If you find that there is nail polish on your fingers or around your nail, you can wait until the coat of polish has dried and use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to wipe it away.
Although nail polish base coats are optional, it is recommended to use a clear top coat of nail polish . A clear top coat of nail polish will provide a shiny, hard, chip and flake-resistant shield. Now you can enjoy your newly polished, beautiful manicured nails!