Tutorial: A Longer Lasting Manicure

If you’re anything like me, you can’t afford to be at a nail salon every second week getting some fresh Shellac, a new set of nails or a simple manicure. Right now, I’m paying off my car, and I’m still recovering from some serious over-spending on my trip to America earlier in the year. The keys to a long lasting manicure are time, patience, and having the right tools at your disposal. Today I’ll show you that you don’t need a steady hand or a big budget to get your nails looking professional!

  • Acetone based nail polish remover
  • Makeup removal pads/cotton wool
  • Cotton buds
  • Soap, running water and a towel
  • Nail clippers/scissors
  • Nail file
  • Nail buffer
  • Cuticle pusher (or your thumb nail, which works just as well!)
  • Base coat polish
  • Nail lacquer in a colour of your choice
  • Top coat polish
  • Cuticle oil

Start off by washing your hands in warm soapy water, especially focusing your energy on the cuticle area to soften them up. Clip/trim your nails to your desired length, keeping in mind that the shorter they are, the less likely it is that they will chip or break. File the sides and tips of your nails into a shape you are happy with. I like to keep mine square – I find they’re more practical that way. Give the tops of your nails a slight buff, then use the pads and polish remover to rid yourself of any excess polish or other residue that might be lingering on your nails. This step is important, because if your hands are oily, the polish won’t adhere very well. Finally, gently push back your cuticles. I generally don’t need to trim my cuticles, but if you feel you need to, go for it!


This coat will dry pretty much straight away, so you won’t need to leave much drying time. There isn’t any need to be perfect or precise here. All this coat does is protect your nails from colour stains, and acts as a primer for the polish!

Try to get your brush as close to your cuticle as possible without touching it. If your hands aren’t very steady, don’t fret! You’ll have the option to clean it up later. Leave your thumb nails until last, in case you get any side leakage that needs to be removed! Allow around 5 minutes for this coat to dry.

Hot tip #1: If you’re running low on time, sit yourself in front of your heater/air conditioner/fan, or get out your hairdryer to speed up the drying process!

To check that my nails are dry, I like to gently brush them along my bottom lip. If your nails don’t stick or snag, you’re ready for your…

Apply your second coat to all fingernails, making sure that you paint all the way to the very tips to ensure the nails are “capped”. I use the three stroke method – one down the centre, then one on either side  whilst filling in any other gaps. Clean up any mess with your thumb nails, and then give your thumb nails their first coat of colour. Once again, leave about 5 minutes to dry.

You might find that some nails are still streaky after two coats. If this is the case, add a third coat where necessary. Apply your second thumb nail coat when the other nails are dry enough for their top coat.

Hot tip #2: Essie polishes give really thin coats, but at the same time give great coverage without streakiness (if that’s even a word). I would highly recommend them to everyone!

No matter how hard I try, I always manage to get some polish on my cuticles. This is where the cotton buds really come in handy. Dip one lightly into your nail polish remover (make sure it isn’t dripping when you take it out) and gently rub it around the edge of the cuticle and anywhere else you may have accidentally painted. Run your hands under cold water (I find this helps slightly with the drying process) and gently towel them dry.

For my top coat, I use OPI RapiDry Top Coat. It cost me around $25, but I’ve found it was a great investment. It really does it’s job, and I’m always happy to spend more money on a product that does exactly what it claims to do, especially when I know it will last me a while. Once again, precision isn’t necessary when applying this coat. You want it to coat just beyond your cuticle and the sides of your fingernails as well – once it has dried, it will peel off the skin all by itself, leaving the colour exactly where it’s meant to be. Don’t forget to paint the very tips, either! Allow around 5-10 minutes drying time.

If you are really serious about making your manicures last for a whole week instead of just a few days, then you need to get yourself some cuticle oil. It’s my new secret weapon! Ever since I started using it a few months ago, the appearance of my fingernails has improved, my hands aren’t as dry, I rarely get hang nails anymore, and on top of all that, my paint jobs are always flawless and fresh.

Apply a drop of cuticle oil directly onto each cuticle. Gently massage in, being careful to avoid most of the freshly painted area. Once you have done both hands, paint a light layer of the oil directly onto each fingernail, but don’t rub it in. This way, if you accidentally bump your nails while they still aren’t quite rock solid, the oil will take the impact and make whatever just touched you slide off, instead of dent! Pretty cool, huh?

Remember, it will take at least two hours from the time you’re finished painting for your polish to completely harden. There’s a big difference between dry enough to touch, and dry enough to wash the dishes. Speaking of washing the dishes, make sure you wear some gloves while doing so, for the sake of your new fingernails!

Hot tip #3: Use cuticle oil daily, even when your fingernails are “au naturel”. Your hang nails will disappear, and your nails will grow stronger without cracking.

I’d love to hear some feedback from you all on what you thought of my first tutorial! Next week, I’ll be sharing my secrets on how to salvage a manicure when it finally does start to crack and chip. Happy Thursday!

Cutex 3 in 1 Base Coat, Top Coat and Clear Nail Polish
Essie Polish in “Bikini So Teeny”
OPI RapiDry Top Coat
Manicare Cuticle Therapy
Cutex Nourishing Nail Polish Remover
Revlon Cuticle Pusher

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