Hey There Dolls,
If you're like me and you browse through what feels like hundreds of blog posts a day, you've probably run across more than one beauty blog raving about the new $24 nail polish from Dior, or $18 polish from Marc Jacobs. If you're even more like me you cringe, visibly, when you read the price of those polishes, and think about how often you actually wear all of the colors in your collection. Chances are you only ever remember that brief love affair you had with a polish when you first purchased it, then it got lost in the pile with the rest of your polishes, only to be brought out six months later for a final hurrah before being lost again. Sound familiar? If it does, then it means you're even more like me than I thought, and you probably also love drugstore polishes, but hate how they're labeled "cheap", making you feel bullied into hitting up a department store to empty your pockets to the polish gods. Never fear! There is a way to make those "cheap" polishes look like they cost much more than you paid for them.
*I am NOT a professional. All of these tips are things I do/have done to my nails. Always make sure you check the ingredients of any products you may be using, and test them on a small part of your skin before you fully commit to anything. Similarly, sterilize any tools you may be using, and please be careful. No bloody fingers!*
First you have to start with the state of your hands. If they're dry, moisturize them. If they're not dry, moisturize them. Even better, use a moisturizer with SPF in it so your pretty hands don't get destroyed by the sun.
Next lets look at your cuticles. Are they dry, cracked, brittle, overgrown and crazy looking, or just plain in the way? Use a cuticle remover, followed by pushing back the cuticle with an orange stick or remover stick, and if they still aren't up to your standards, you can take cuticle nippers and cut those stubborn ones off. This will give you a clean, salon finished effect, that improves the look of polish tremendously.
The you have to look at the state of your nails. If you, like me, have gotten bitten by the acrylic nail bug lately, you know how harmful they are to your natural nails. You can try and file down the craziness, or you can use a ridge filler/smoother, but it is always best to let your nails just grow out and use a strengthening treatment on them until the damage grows out. If you have been a good person and have not used acrylics, you will probably be in pretty good shape. If you have any other nail problems (discoloration, ridges, fungus, etc.) you can pop on over to Sally Beauty's website and click around until you find the product that will work the best for you.
After all this prep work with your hands, it's time to start prepping your nails.
Start by wiping your nails down with some polish remover to get any excess oils off of your nails before you apply your polish. This is also the time that you can use lotion/Vaseline around the sides of your nail if you're a bit messy when you apply your polish. This makes it easier to wipe off the excess polish after you're done with application, but not necessary.
After picking out the polish (which is right on par in terms of importance as the prep work and application itself), you have to make sure the polish is mixed. Don't shake it all around just because you like to hear the little metal bb rattle (guilty!). Instead you should be rolling the bottle of polish between your hands to mix it, as it creates less bubbles in the polish.
Then apply your polish. Go for long strokes from the nail bed to the tip. You can either start in the middle with one broad stroke, then do two more on either side, or you can start on one side and go to the other. Whatever you feel comfortable with, that gets you even results, is fine by me. I'm the start in the middle kind of girl myself, but that's solely because I have an awful time getting an even coat on my nails, and this makes it easier for me to fake one if I have to.
Between coats you should wait about a minute, or less if you put a hairdryer to your nails (on cool). This makes it so your polish doesn't bunch up. slide off, or get too thick. Don't think that having to paint more than one coat means you'll end up with terribly painted nails, some polishes just need more than one coat.
When your coats are on, and your polish looks uniform and is dry, now it's time for cleanup. You can use the "scrub until something bleeds" method, or you can use those cute little pointed Q-Tips (regular ones will work too) dipped in polish remover to get off the excess.
Finish off with some cuticle oil, or some hand lotion, and you're good to go!