How to Apply Nail Lacquer-Give yourself a manicure in 9 easy steps


Jan 19, 2001


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The Bottom Line Use my 9 easy steps and you'll wonder why you've been paying $30 for a manicure!

One of my most favorite comfort escapes is painting my nails. It makes me feel like I am doing something just for me and for those short 20 minutes I get to escape temporarily. Even though Iíve never taken any classes on being a nail tech, I believe I have found an application process that works just right for me, and Iíd like to share it.

What youíll need:

Soap and water
Small bowl
Hand lotion
Cuticle cream
Cuticle scissors
Orange stick
Base coat
Nail lacquer
Wash cloth
Quick dry topcoat
30 minutes of uninterrupted free time

1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

2. Soak your hands in warm water-this soften the cuticles

3. Use a cuticle cream (I recommend Sally Hansen) around the cuticle and allow to sit for two or three minutes-this softens the cuticles enough to be able to push away the unwanted, dead cuticles

4. Rinse off the cuticle cream and gently push your cuticles back with an orange stick or your finger tip

5. If you find you have some raised skin or cuticles that cause a hang or snag, gently remove it with the scissors. But remember to never cut your cuticles.

6. Apply a generous amount of hand cream to your hands and rub in. Remove any lotion from the nail and cuticle area with the dry washcloth.

7. Apply a base coat-This will not dry slick, a base coat should have a slightly sticky feel to it when it dries. The base coat is used so the lacquer will adhere to the base coat and not the actual nail, causing the nail to discolor. You donít have to be particularly neat or accurate when applying the base coat, as it wonít be seen. I prefer Stickey brand of base coat, but any brand will suffice since the base coat isnít the most important part of the routine.

8. Apply the nail lacquer. Itís very important that youíre accurate and steady when applying your lacquer if itís color. This is the part of the manicure people will notice. If you do it right, itíll look like you spent an hour in the salon. Dip your brush in the lacquer and try and apply the first coat in three strokes. Once through the middle of the nail and filling in on the left and right of the middle stroke, with two more strokes. Do both hands and then start again on the first hand. You are going to apply two coats to each hand. If by chance you get any lacquer on your cuticle, gently remove it with the tip of your orange stick. That should take care of it. If it doesnít wait till your nails are dry and dip your orange stick tip into some polish remover and try again. I prefer OēPēI brand of nail lacquer.

9. Your final and I think most important step is a topcoat. If you donít use a topcoat, you donít seal the lacquer, therefore allowing the elements to effect it. Hence, chipping, scratching and being rubbed off. Apply one coat of topcoat and allow a sufficient amount of time to dry. If you use a fast dry top coat, it should take under five minutes from wet to set, however if you donít use a fast dry, plan on keeping your hands away from everything for at least 30 minutes. This isnít always a bad thing. I prefer Seche Vite topcoat.

Thatís it, youíre good to go! If you take the time to do all of these steps and these products your manicure should last at least four days and many times seven.



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