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DIY Manicure

If your budget has been hit hard by the economic recession – and whose hasn’t? – the weekly manicure you considered essential may have been sacrificed to groceries and gas. Don’t dismay! With a little practice and some inexpensive tools, you can give yourself a relaxing manicure that will tide you over to your next nail salon appointment. You will need:

  • moisturizing nail polish remover

  • nail files in both coarse and fine grits

  • cuticle remover

  • orangewood stick for cuticles

  • moisturizing hand lotion

  • base coat nail polish

  • nail polish in your favorite color

  • top coat nail polish

  • about 30 minutes

Start by removing any existing nail polish you have on. Nail polish remover is very drying, so choose a moisturizing one and use as little as you can to get the job done. When all your old polish is off, file and shape your nails, starting with the coarser grit and finishing with the finer one. To prevent splintering, file in a smooth, one-way motion from the edge of the nail towards the center. Today’s most popular nail shape is fairly short and square with rounded corners (‘squoval,’ if you like neologisms), but you can choose whatever shape and length suits your fingers and lifestyle. Hint: match the shape of your natural cuticle. Buff the nail surface lightly to smooth ridges, which can make polish more likely to chip.

Next, soak your hands in warm water for 5 minutes to soften the cuticles and remove any dirt from under your nails. Dry and apply cuticle remover. Then, using an orangewood stick, push your cuticles back very gently to reveal more of the nail. Unless you have obvious hangnails and peeling skin, avoid trimming cuticles, which can lead to infections. A good daily moisturizer can help prevent cuticle problems before they start.

Now massage your hands and nails with a moisturizing lotion. Wipe off any excess lotion from the nails in preparation for the polish. Applying a base coat will help your favorite color go on more smoothly and prevent staining. When the base coat is dry, apply two coats of your favorite color, and a clear top coat to prevent chipping and smudging. Clean up any stray polish with a cotton swab and a little nail polish remover, and let it all dry for at least 15 minutes.

And there you have it: soft, smooth manicured hands for days in which you’re dying for that manicure but can barely make your rent.

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