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Step #1: Start With A Clean Slate
Always take off any nail polish you’re already wearing before applying a new coat. But take caution to not overdo it on the nail polish remover – it tends to dry out your nails, particularly the cuticle area, so be frugal with it.
Step #2: Shape Your Fingernails
Use a nail file or nail clippers to file or cut your nails into the shape you want before you begin soaking them in water. Wet fingernails are easier to damage than dry ones.
When filing your nails, be as gentle as you can and use the least harsh emery board you can get. Never use one that’s excessively coarse, or one made of metal.
Step #3: Start Soaking Your Toenails
It takes between 6 and 8 minutes of soaking to get toenails soft enough to trim easily.
Step #4: Trim Your Toenails
Once your toenails are soft enough, trim them with nail clippers. Ideally, you should trim your toenails in a straight line, a little bit above the quick. Be careful – if you make them too short, you’re more likely to end up with an ingrown toenail.
Step #5: Apply Moisturizer To Your Cuticles
Use a thick, emollient-rich moisturizer to prepare your cuticles. You can use just about any moisturizer or oil you would use on dry skin. Cuticle creams have no special ingredients whatsoever that are particularly good for cuticles or nails, so there’s really no need to get a special cream just for your cuticles.
Step #6: Make Sure Your Nails Are Clean
You’ll need to remove any moisturizer or oil left on your nails before you start polishing them. If they’re still on the nail when you apply nail polish, the polish won’t stick to the nail.
You can clean off the remaining oil or moisturizer by gently wiping a small amount of nail polish remover or ordinary rubbing alcohol over the surface of the nail. However, be careful not to get it onto your cuticles; you want those areas to stay moisturized. Using a Q-tip is recommended to do a thorough and precise job on this step.
Step #7: Apply Several Coats Of Nail Polish
The standard number of nail polish coats is four: a base coat, two coats of a colored nail polish, and finally, a top coat to give the nail additional shine. Let each coat dry before applying the next one.
If your nails are brittle or weak, use a ridge-filling nail polish as your base coat. Applying one or two coats will strengthen the nails.
Step #8: Take the Time to Dry Your Nail Polish
You should always give your nails plenty of time to dry thoroughly before doing anything with your hands. This usually takes about 30-45 minutes. Don’t be fooled into trusting quick-dry nail polishes or certain quick-dry top coats to shave time off the process. Many products like these have alcohol in them, which may make your other coats of polish more prone to chipping and peeling off.
Step #9: Add More Emollient-Rich Moisturizer To Your Cuticles
Rub some more of your emollient-rich moisturizer into your cuticles after your nail polish has dried completely. This not only protects your cuticles from damage, but also promotes healthy fingernail growth.
Step #10: Touch Up Your Nail Polish Regularly
Manicures and pedicures can last longer if you touch them up every other day. Keep your top coat with you all the time, and whenever you have a few minutes to spare, add another coat of top coat to your nails. It will dry quickly and keep your manicure looking brand-new.
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