You can always do your nails at home, but having them done for you is much more fun (and so much less work!). Plus, going with a friend is the ultimate girl-bonding event. While most nail salons follow safety guidelines, there are many that don't. Always take a good look around a salon before you have your appointment. The shop should be clean and clutter-free. The tables should also look clean. If there are weird smells, or it's so messy it reminds you of your brother's room, take a pass. The tools used during the manicure should be soaking in a sterilizing
solution. Dirty tools and surfaces mean you're more likely to pick up bacteria that could cause an infection or a nail disorder. If you get manicures or pedicures a lot, you may want to bring your own tools to lessen your chance of infection. back to top
Tips for Healthy Nails
Do-It-Yourself Manicure and Pedicure
- Don't cut your cuticles (the soft layer of skin at the bottom of your nail). They protect your nails from bacteria. Instead, gently push them back with a towel after a shower or a bath.
- Don't bite your nails or pull on hangnails. Both of these bad habits expose the nail to bacteria and increase the risk of infection.
- Trim your nails every two to three weeks.
- For best results, trim your toenails after a bath or shower. The warm water will soften them and make them easier to cut.
- Cut your toenails straight across so that you don't get ingrown toenails.
- Stuck with dish duty? Put on some latex or vinyl gloves for doing dishes. Water weakens nails and increases the chance of infection.
- Try acetone-free nail polish remover. Acetone is a chemical in some nail polish removers that can make cracked, brittle, or splitting nails worse.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and good sources of lean protein. Just like the rest of your body, your nails need good nutrition to stay healthy. back to top
Whether you have a big dance coming up or just want to feel pretty all over, giving yourself a manicure and pedicure is a surefire way to look and feel great. To make it even more fun, invite a few pals over, put on your favorite CDs, and make a night out of it. For safety's sake, everyone should bring her own tools. For the furniture's sake, put some old newspapers or magazines on the table where you'll be working. Nail polish remover can take the paint off furniture in about a second! Here's what you need:
- your favorite nail polish
- base coat and top coat or a product that does both
- nail files or emery boards
- nail clippers or scissors
- nailbrush (for getting all of that dirt and grime from under your nails)
- a small plastic or glass bowl (for soaking your fingers)
- a foot bath (for soaking your feet; the tub works, too)
- nail buffer (only if you're not going to apply nail polish)
- nail polish remover (hey, mistakes happen)
- a foam toe separator (for keeping your toes apart so that the polish won't smudge)
- cotton balls
- Q-tips back to top
A Hands Down Treat: 11 Steps to Pretty Nails
The Nail File: Fun Facts About Nails
- Nails grow about a tenth of a millimeter a day. No wonder it takes forever for them to get long!
- Your nails grow faster in the summer than they do in the winter.
- Boys' nails grow more quickly than girls' nails.
- Your fingernails grow faster than your toenails.
Terrific Toes: The Perfect Pedicure
- Remove old nail polish. Wet a cotton ball with nail polish remover and press it on the nail for a few seconds. Then wipe the cotton ball over the nail toward the tip of the nail.
- Trim your nails if they need it.
- Use the nail file or emery board to shape your nails. Most people use these words to mean the same thing, but nail files are usually metal and emery boards are usually made of a strong paper.
- Fill the small bowl with warm water and a squirt or two of liquid soap. Soak one hand for a few minutes. Do the same thing on the other hand.
- Wrap the corner of a clean towel around your fingertip and gently push back your cuticles.
- Lightly scrub your nails with a nailbrush. Then dry your hands and nails.
- For a natural look, gently rub a nail buffer back and forth across your nails. Your nails will look shiny and healthy.
- If you want to use nail polish, apply the base coat to each nail. Start with your pinky finger and move toward your thumb. That way, you won't smudge the nails you've already done. Do the same thing on the other hand. Let dry.
- Roll the nail polish bottle between your hands to mix it up. Shaking can create those annoying air bubbles and ruin a perfectly good paint job. Wipe off any extra polish on the sides of the bottle, so the brush has just enough on it to cover one nail. Start from the base of the nail for a smoother finish. Let dry. Apply a second coat if you want.
- If you get polish on the skin around your nail, dip a Q-tip in nail polish remover and wipe it off.
- Apply a top coat. This is an important step because it makes the polish last longer. back to top
- Remove old nail polish.
- Fill a small portable tub with warm water and add a squirt of liquid soap. You can also fill the bathtub up part-way and sit on the edge. Soak your feet for about 5 minutes.
- If you like, massage a bit of exfoliating scrub into your feet. Rub it in for a few minutes to soften your skin and help some of the old skin cells fall away. You can use a body scrub or one made just for feet.
- Gently scrub your toes and nails with a nail brush.
- Trim your nails if they need it. Remember to cut them straight across.
- Shape your nails with a nail file or emery board. Toenails should be straight across the top with slightly rounded edges.
- For shiny nails without polish, gently rub a nail buffer back and forth over your toes until they glow.
- If you are going to use nail polish, put the toe separator between your toes. Rolled-up tissue also works.
- Apply base coat. Let dry.
- Apply two coats of your favorite nail polish. Make sure the first coat is dry before you put on the second coat. Let dry.
- Apply a top coat to prevent chipping. back to top