Rehab Your Nails: Basic Manicure

8:00 AM

It's time for my final Rehab Your Nails post (for this month!!) and it's going to be a good one!  Today's post will show you how to give yourself a basic manicure.  This is going to be a powerful tool in your arsenal when you start polishing your nails frequently.  Nail polish and especially remover will do a number on your nail plate.  So keeping nails healthy by giving them regular care is very important.  Keep in mind that you only need a manicure about once every two weeks.  This is going to show you how to do a manicure with water, but my preference is to skip the soaking portion.  It can weaken nails if it's done too frequently.  On to the supplies!!

I totally forgot to number these.  But...I think it's pretty easy to tell what's what!!  You'll need some cotton balls/pledgets/cotton pads,  all the supplies for basic cuticle care, a nail file*, a nail buffer*, some orange wood sticks, cuticle oil, a nail brush, and, if you're going to be using water you'll need a nail bowl (or a regular bowl that your nails fit comfortably in) and some antibacterial soap. I'm also using a paper towel as a work surface.

*I'm using a 180/400 OPI file.  It's important to use the proper file when doing any procedure on your nails so that you don't damage the layers of the nail plate.  Please do not use any file with a number lower than 180 on natural nails. The same is true for buffers. I'm using a 225 here.  You can use whatever suits you but for this purpose I prefer the 225 grit.

PLEASE NOTE:  It's illegal in most states to perform a manicure on someone else without a license. I'm not going to pretend I'm ignorant and people aren't doing it.  However, I really implore you, if you're doing manicures on other people do NOT use your tools from person to person.  It's not always apparent when someone may have a nail disease or disorder and just like with colds, you can easily spread around infection if you don't know what you're looking for.  At all times we all have a minimum of 7 microscopic cuts on our hands.  It's VERY easy for you to spread diseases and infections.  So use common sense and get new tools for each person or find out your states laws for properly sanitizing them between clients.  :)

Now onto the procedure!!

These are the nails I'm starting with:

They're pretty janky I'm not going to lie.  I waited til I had a bit of cuticle to work with but I also just had acrylics off not too long ago so they're thin and damaged and if you look closely (thumb!) there is still a little bit of acrylic hanging on!  But this is perfect because it will allow you to really see what a manicure can do for your nails and your hands.  So the first step is going to be to file your nails to the shape you'd like.  I went with square. :)  Then you'll apply your cuticle remover.  All you need to do is apply it around the cuticle and follow the manufacturers instructions for how long to leave it on. I'm using OPI Avoplex Exfoliating Cuticle Remover.  I don't necessarily recommend it, but it came in my school kit and it works as well as any other I've tried.

Here are my nails after I applied the cuticle remover.  You just want to cover the doesn't have to be super neat, but as I mentioned before in my cuticle care post, if you feel any pain or tingling PLEASE remove it immediately.  My cuticle remover is gentle on skin but some aren't.  Certain ones WILL eat your skin and that's not pretty! So be careful and follow the directions. If you're going to be soaking your nails that will be your next step.  If not you can skip to the step after!

To soak the nails you just want to add a little of the antibacterial soap to your bowl, add some warm water and submerge your fingers for around 3-5 minutes.  Then you'll remove them and pat them dry with a towel or the paper towel you're working on. Then you'll want to follow a basic cuticle care routine (skip adding oil or lotion!).  Next, use an orange wood stick, a curette, or a cotton swab to clean under the free edge of your nails.  Then you can brush the nails with a bit of water and your nail brush.

Brushing should remove any remaining cuticle remover, cuticle, or dirt or debris from cleaning under the free edge.  After brushing you can gently dry nails with a paper towel and then use your buffer to LIGHTLY buff the surface.  The main purpose of buffing is to remove the shine from the nail plate to help polish adhere.  You can also remove small ridges or minor staining with buffing but it's important not to go too far with it. No matter how often you give yourself a manicure, you should only buff once every OTHER week.

This is how my nails look after they've been brushed and buffed.  At this point you can move on to the lotion.  Just apply it as you regularly would.  I chose to use Hempz lotion.  I really like it because it's thick and it moisturizes very well but it doesn't feel heavy or greasy.  I'm also a HUGE fan of whipped Shea Butters.  Especially the ones made by Shea Radiance. My favorite is the Kalahari Melon scent. :)  But anyway you can use whatever lotion you want to.  If you are going to be doing your nails frequently it's important to choose one that isn't going to dry out skin.  It sounds crazy but a lot of lotions have alcohol in them.  The ones from Bath and Body Works are a HUGE offender for this.  But we'll get to all that in another post!  Work the lotion into your hands, then add cuticle oil to your cuticles and...

Voila! Finished nails.  If you're following your mani with polish then you can skip the cuticle oil until you're finished and be sure to swipe the nail plate with some alcohol or remover before polishing to get all the lotion and oils off the nail plate.  I'm sure you can see a BIG difference from the nails I started with to the nails I ended with though!  I hope you all found this series useful!  I'd love to do more in the future and it seems there's interest in that so there will be more for certain at some point! Remember if there are any specific questions you'd like me to answer or posts you'd like to see you can always email me at!  Thanks for following along!  There will be a Rehab Your Nails Giveaway up later today so be sure to look for it! :)

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  1. fab post and great series xxxx

  2. This is so helpful! :) I also had no idea it was illegal to to manicures without a licence. I live in Canada and don't do manicures for others, but I still had no clue those laws existed... or the huge risk of spreading nail diseases (my sister and I share tools all the time). Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Awesome post! Thank you for this useful information!


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