Let’s go ahead and assume that after reading my introductory shopping list that you’ve got your polish, you’ve got your cotton balls, and you’re raring to dive into the wonderful world of nails. Firstly, I advise sitting down somewhere with a flat surface – this can be a desk, or the arm of your couch, it’s all good. You just need somewhere to rest your hand while you’re fiddling with it. You all comfy? Got your polish and things within reach? Excellent, let’s begin.
Now, if you have either the Duri Rejuvacoat or IM Clear Bond, you’ll need to put this on first. Don’t worry about getting it everywhere – it’s clear, and it flakes off skin really easily, so just slop it on. If you don’t have either of these, don’t fret. Polish will usually go on just fine without a base coat, and if you’re just dipping a toe in the water it’s probably best to try it out before you go and invest in all the extra bits and pieces.
Once your base is dry, it’s time to put the polish on! There is lots of advice around on how to do this perfectly, from the way you hold the brush to the direction you move it in. I find it easiest to be neat with the polish when I start in the middle of the nail, about three quarters of the way down, and then push the polish up and away from that centre point to each side.
However, if you don’t have time to stuff around with getting this right, I totally understand. The only truly important thing about application is trying not to lay it on too thick (because it will take a million years to dry and bubble), and laying it on as evenly as possible. If it ends up a little streaky, it’s no big deal. Often another coat will sort that right out. Most polish will need more than one coat to be opaque – just how many coats really depends on the polish. My advice is to start with as thin a coat as possible just to see how it goes, and then get progressively more heavy handed from there if need be. Also be sure to leave it to dry at least five minutes between coats. I know, I KNOW, this is an enormous pain, and is absolutely my least favourite part of painting my nails. I normally get through this by putting something entertaining on the TV, so I can do a coat, look up for a while, do another coat, watch some more, etc. until done. However you keep the waiting madness at bay, once you’re done it will most likely look something this;
Uuurgh. Not awesome. This is where cleanup comes in.
One way to approach the problem of errant polish is to prevent the polish from getting on your skin in the first place by masking the area around your nails. This is quite easily done with sticky tape, or if you prefer a more precise line, brushing on liquid latex. If you can’t get your hands on brush latex, masking fluid is available from most art stores and will also do the job.
Personally, I MUCH prefer brush latex over the tape method, but that’s also because I love peeling it back off my fingers again. Getting a brush and smearing it on the cuticles and skin around your nails creates a barrier between your skin and the clumsy blobby brush full of polish, so when you’re done you just peel the latex off and the polish comes with it. You do however have to do this while the polish is still wet, otherwise the latex will slip out from underneath the hardened polish.
The other way to deal with errant polish is just to know how to get it off from all the places you didn’t want it once you’re done applying. This is where your cotton buds come in! Pour some of your nail polish remover into the cap of the bottle, so you’ve got a nice little dip tray. Dunk the cotton bud in this, and then rub it around the edges of your cuticles until most of the stray polish is whisked away! One trick I’ve learned to do this without taking it off the nail as well is to pull back the squishy part of your finger away from the nail while rubbing the cotton bud across it – it gives the cotton bud more room to move without touching the nail.
Once you’re done with this stage, if you’ve been careful it will look something like this.
If you’re in a hurry, it’s often quite fine to leave the cleanup process here. It looks perfectly good for everyday wear – unless you’re taking macro photos of your cuticles (like me), it’s unlikely anyone will actually spot any tiny splotches that are left behind.
However, if you ARE planning on taking macro shots of your nails, or you’re just really pedantic like I am, there is one more step you can include to get the edge of polish as neat as possible. For this step, just pour some more polish remover into the cap and get a little brush. Any small brush will do, but don’t use an expensive one because the polish remover will mess up the bristles pretty quickly with repeated use. Dip your little brush in the polish remover, and stroke it gently along the edge of the polish. Be careful lot to get too much remover on the brush, otherwise it will go flooding into your cuticles and soak off half of what you’ve just painstakingly applied.
Once you’re done with this step, it will look something like this;
NOW, I’m happy with them. I know, I know, it doesn’t make a big enough difference that anyone else will really notice. But it makes me happy, so I always do this step.
Once you’re done with the cleanup, it’s time for topcoat! I cannot recommend quick dry topcoats enough – the only drawback is that some (Seche Vite, I’m looking at you) have a tendency to shrink, so by morning your nails appear to be wearing a manicure a size too small for them. You can help prevent this by “wrapping the tip” when you put your topcoat on ie. Running the brush along the edge of the nail horizontally, so the whole end of the nail is coated in topcoat. The helps prevent shrinkage because it allows the topcoat to shrink around the nail, clinging to the edge, rather than away from the edge.
Once your topcoat is dry, you’re all done! Go show off your shiny tips, and I’ll see you back here same time next week for my Indie Roundup!