Happy 2016, my loyal so-and-sos! The new year has begun, which means that it is time for me to:
- Say goodbye to the hot garbage that was 2015, but not before getting right up in its face, screaming “DON’T LET THE DOOR HITCHA,” and launching it out of my life forever via a firm boot to the butthole;
- Resolve to be be a better, kinder, healthier person for the first seventeen days of January, or until I rage-eat an entire tube of Pillsbury Grands! in one sitting, whichever comes first; and
- Finally nut up and post the DIY nail tutorial I’ve been promising you guys for many, many moons. A ridiculous amount of moons. An unfathomable amount of moons.
So here we go! I’m gonna show you how to do DEM NAILS!
Okay. When doing a manicure, you always want to start out with clean, dry nails. Which means that if you’re already wearing nail polish, you’ll need to remove it. Any nail polish remover will do, but I prefer the felt pads that are already pre-soaked and individually wrapped. Otherwise, my nail polish removal experience quickly turns into a nightmarish landscape of stringy, sticky cotton balls and puddles of acetone everywhere.
Now that your nails are Rated R For Graphic Nudity, you’re ready to shape them. If you’re new to DIY manicures, I recommend first reading a short article courtesy of Divine Caroline called “How to Shape Your Nails.” It’s simple and instructive, and best of all, I didn’t have to write it. Click on the image below to take you there.
I personally shape my nails in the “squoval” fashion because even though I prefer square nails, I’ve found that the sharp edges can gouge out a bitch’s eyeballs. It’s also been my experience that the corners have a tendency to snap off whenever you:
- do anything at all
So I round those fuckers down.
Now. I don’t necessarily want to take a sticky, unsatisfying crap on metal nail files, or even the old-school Emery boards, but I’m going to anyway. Because they suck. They’re either too gritty or not gritty enough, and they last about as long as a sailor on shore leave. The bottom line is that GLASS FILES ARE WHERE IT’S AT. I use an inexpensive one called the Diamond Deb, and a single file can hang in there for YEARS.
est. 1975 PRO TIP: NEVER saw back and forth when filing. Sawing at your nails will weaken them, causing icky-poo flaking, peeling, and breakage. Instead, file in one direction on one side of the nail, then in the opposite direction on the other side. Finish by rounding or squaring off the top.
After you’ve shaped your nails, the next step is to gently push back your cuticles. This keeps them healthy, and also gives your nails the illusion of length. You can use a cuticle removal cream or gel if you like—a variety of brands make them—but I myself don’t bother. I throw caution to the wind and just bareback it with this YCC Clear Plastic Cuticle Pusher.
est. 1975 PRO TIP: NEVER CUT your cuticles, and don’t let a nail tech or manicurist do it either. It’s a fabulous way to contract a Gross ‘N Nasty bacterial or fungal infection. Check out this short article courtesy of Cosmopolitan called “Why You Should Never, Ever Cut Your Cuticles” and walk away schooled.
Now it’s time to paint!
If you have oily nails like I do, I recommend wiping your nails down with rubbing alcohol before you start. This will remove dirt and oil, but it will also help polish adhere to the nail, helping you avoid the super fun phenomenon I like to call “The Manicure That Chips Off in Gigantic Pieces 20 Minutes After It Dries.”
You can also use a nail primer like Orly Primetime Primer Basecoat to achieve the same result.
Now apply a rubberized basecoat like Orly Nail Bonder Treatment to your nails. It has a “gripping” effect and does a kick-ass job of keeping nail polish in place, even on oily nails like mine.
Got your color ready? Because you’re going to need to apply your first coat while YOUR BASECOAT IS STILL WET so that the rubber can bond to the lacquer. I chose China Glaze’s “Out Like a Light” for this tutorial because China Glaze makes excellent, inexpensive cremes that are very easy to apply.
Now, if you’re not used to painting your own nails, applying the lacquer quickly and neatly is going to take you some practice, particularly when using your non-dominant hand (that lazy son-of-a-bitch.) However, in the meantime, here are a few simple tips that can help:
- GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU START. Nothing fucks up a manicure more easily than an urgent pee, or a deuce that can’t wait.
- Never shake your polish. This will cause air bubbles to form. Instead, roll the bottle gently on a soft, flat surface.
- Don’t polish your nails in the same room as a moving fan. This will also cause air bubbles.
- If you accidentally get polish on your skin, don’t lose your shit. Just let the paint dry and it will wash right off with soap and water.
- LET EVERY LAYER OF NAIL POLISH DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT. And by dry, I mean DRY. Not tacky. Not squishy. Not “eh, it’s basically dry.” DRY.
- You should only need to use 2-3 layers of most lacquers to get full coverage.
- If you struggle with streaks, air bubbles, or flooded cuticles, chances are pretty good that you’re just not painting your nails the correct way. This incredibly helpful article (see image below) from Lacquerized.com taught me everything I know.
est. 1975 PRO TIP: If you have gorgeous long talons and struggle with tip wear, try wrapping your tips. It’s a technique that involves putting a little bit of lacquer on the free edge of your nail to prevent wear and tear. For step-by-step instructions, check out this article by The Polished Perfectionist called “How to Wrap Your Tips.”
After you have applied your color, you’re going to need to finish with a quick-drying top coat. One of my favorites is Seche Vite Dry Fast Nail Top Coat. It smells like a toxic chemical spill and it doesn’t play well with non-drugstore polishes, but its high gloss, durability, and time-to-dry are second to none. You must apply it while your final layer of color is STILL WET.
After application, in about 30 to 60 seconds your manicure will be drier than my vaju-vaju after watching my husband get out of the shower and air dry his junk using the “helicopter” method. (If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, consider yourself hashtag blessed.)
So this is what DEM NAILS can look like with a little practice and some pretty reasonably-priced manicure products:
Oh! One more thing. Make sure to keep your nails and cuticles moisturized after a manicure, because the chemicals can dry out your skin. I like the Mary Kay Satin Hands lotion, and indie polish manufacturer Emerald & Ash has an entire line of cool-smelling cuticle oils.
And there you have it! Beautiful nails you can do at home. If you have any questions about techniques, materials, or why my cat insists on standing on my boob while I’m trying to write a blog post, put ’em in the comments!