THE NAIL SERIES | Part 1: Preparation

Ahhh, nail polish.
One of my favourite ways to show off my flair in a black-suit, corporate world.  It’s becoming more and more acceptable to show off a bright nail polish at work, no matter how “stuffy” your job is – within limits of course.  I’d probably keep that electric blue that’s so hot right now away from important client meetings, but a great red is perfectly acceptable in most scenarios!

Nail polish is a great way to finish off that “perfectly polished” look (oops, was that a pun?) without spending an arm and a leg on your beauty regimen.  I know what you are thinking – what do you mean it’s not expensive?  My mani/pedi costs $35-50 every time I go!  Listen up ladies, don’t be afraid – you can paint your own nails, I promise!

All you need are the right tools, about 20-30 minutes when you aren’t using your fingers (I do my nails in front of the TV, usually while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians)!

Since I’m obsessed with nail polish and have so much to say, we decided to do a 3-part series:
Part 1: Preparation
Part 2: Application
Part 3: Comparing Brands

Part 1: Preparation

As with any beauty regimen, preparation is key to getting the most out of your product.  My nail prep time usually takes about 5-10 minutes.

First, you need a decent nail file.  I somehow seem to get these for free in random goody bags, but if you don’t have one, a decent file can cost as little as $3 in Shoppers Drug Mart.  The Revlon File ‘N Peel 6-in-1 File costs about $5 and will last forever – when the surface smooths out, you just peel it off for another fresh layer!

But how do I file my nails?   

This is a very common, and very good question.  I’ve seen many filing disasters.  The easiest DIY filing style is the short, square nail.  Just trim your nails down to meet the tops of your finger tips and set the file flat on top of your nail to even out the edge.  No need to over-do it here.  Just a few simple sweeps across the nail and you’ll get a nice finish.

If you want to try something a bit more on-trend, gently round out the edges with your nail file.  The trick here is to go slow and use the file with a soft hand.
Nice and slowly, start with the file lying flat on the top edge of your nail and gently follow the curve of your finger around the edge.  I would recommend filing in one direction, instead of “sawing” back and forth, in order to maintain ultimate control.  It’s important to follow the way your finger curves to keep your nails looking natural – your nail beds are designed to fit your fingers, that’s the way your nails will look best!

If your nails are bumpy or have ridges (most people do), it’s helpful to give them a quick buff with a square buffer (these also cost about $2 in drug stores or at your local nail salon).  Buffing your nails is also a great way to “freshen” them up and get rid of any yellowing that may have resulted from wearing a dark colour for a long time.

This is usually where I start to apply the polish, but if you have thick, overgrown cuticles, it might be a good idea to push them back.  Again, this is very easy to do with a cuticle pusher (about $5-7 in a drug store).  Usually they have a tool on the end to trim away the excess cuticle once it’s been pushed back.

Once these steps are complete, I like to give my hands a thorough wash with some warm soapy water and then immediately moisturize them, focusing on my nail beds and cuticles.  Right now I’m loving Shea Butter hand cream by L’Occitaine – it dries fast, is super hydrating, and smells amazing.

Now your nails are ready for the main event – the polish!  Look out for Part 2 of this series, where we discuss application!

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