There aren't many things in life I'd confidently say I'm good at. I can't (won't) bake, I don't display any sporting prowess whatsoever, I can't sing (unless you count enthusiastic but ultimately tragic warbling along to the radio whilst doing the washing up) and I am bad, no USELESS, with numbers. On the other hand, I can play the piano, I possess an, as yet, unrivalled bank of celebrity knowledge that comes in handy in pub quizzes but no other occasions, I remain calm in a crisis and I can paint my nails. Of these things I am confident. So, because it would be difficult and lengthy (not to mention slightly weird) to display the other talents I have, today I'm going to show you how to paint your nails.
You will need the following: cuticle remover and orange/hoof stick, nail file, nail buffer, base coat, nail polish, top coat, hand cream.
Start by removing any old polish you have (even if you haven't worn any in a while it's still worth running a remover-soaked cotton pad over them to get rid of any possible residue) and then apply your cuticle remover. I use the Sally Hansen Gel Cuticle Remover, the best I've found.
You apply a thin layer all around the nails; leave it on for up to five minutes and then take your orange stick and gently push back the skin to leave a neat nail surrounding.
Rinse your hands and dry, and then at this stage you should apply your hand cream (my preferred one is the Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment but any cream will do). Then take your nail file and shape your nails. I use a glass file from Ruby & Millie and have done for years. I find a glass file is less damaging to my nails and as long as you look after it (and by that I literally just mean rinse it after you use it and probably don't stamp on it) it will last forever.
I wear my nails short, for the most part, as I personally think they look neat, chic and clean, but go with whatever you feel comfortable with. In terms of the shape, they should mirror the shape of the base of your nails. If you have a look at the first picture of my nails, you can see that the base of mine are quite square with slightly rounded edges, so that's how I file my nails. Once your nails are filed, take your buffer and get polishing.
I find that this buffing stage just makes my nails as smooth as possible, so any polish I apply won't appear bumpy or rough (unless I balls it up). So now your nails are clean, neat and shiny. But bare. And bare nails are not fun nails, so let's get to the good stuff.
First up, a base coat. I will not COUNTENANCE the application of nail polish without a base coat first. You wouldn't slap paint on a brick wall without a base coat, would you, or foundation on your face without moisturiser, so don't put paint on your nails without priming them first, okay? Otherwise your nails will stain and look yuck and that isn't good for anybody, plus you can buy base coats these days with fortifying extras; ridge fillers, strengtheners, moisturisers, rainbows, the lot. At the moment I'm using the Nails Inc Kensington Caviar base coat which I bought in a set in the sale. I like it. I don't love it. Use whatever you've got.
Once the base coat is applied, give it a minute or two before getting to the colour, AKA the reason for living. The colour I'm using today is my all-time favourite polish, Essie Bordeaux, a beautiful, deep wine colour that always looks good no matter the time of year or occasion. First things first, when you bring the brush out of the bottle, make sure you wipe some of the excess off on the rim, otherwise you'll end up with far too much polish on the brush and it will pool on the nail making it run into the skin around the nails, which we absolutely do not want to happen.
I suppose it depends on the polish you're using, but I would always suggest applying two thin coats of polish (or three, or four if you need it) rather than attempting just one thick coat. It's hard to get it looking perfect this way. The other thing I always do, and really suggest you do as well, is not painting right down to the base of the nail. I like to leave a thin gap for two reasons: firstly it means you won't get polish on the cuticle, which looks messy and probably isn't that great for the skin, and secondly it creates the illusion of longer, more elegant nails, as does leaving a thin gap along the sides as well.
When you do your first coat, with the polish almost used up from the brush, dot it along the edges of the nail. This acts as a sort of sealant and helps prevent chipping and gives a more finished, er...finish. Once this is done on all the nails, go over with the second coat.
Check out my really nice extra dry thumb cuticle. Thanks winter! You can see in the photo above the thin gap around the edge I was talking about. Once the second/third/more coat is on and you're happy with the finish, give it another minute or two and then apply your top coat. Your quick-dry top coat, because frankly, WHO has the time to sit around flapping and blowing and picking stuff up with your elbows these days? Since discovering Seche Vite about four years ago I estimate I've saved approximately 8,000 man hours (and achieved precious little, but still) and so I suggest you all do the same. As I said, I'm using the Nails Inc Kensington Top Coat at the moment which is quick dry but I don't find it prevents chipping as well as Seche Vite. It is nice and glossy, though.
And that's it, manicure done! Round of applause for you all. I also use Essie Cuticle Oil every day, but it's at work so I can't photograph it, cleverly. Clean up any mishaps with some nail polish remover on a cotton bud, and your nails are ready for their close up.
And because this is Essie Bordeaux, I thought it needed a fitting prop to show it off a little bit more.
The chicken? Who knows. This is what happens when you call upon the services of your parents to take photographs for you. So thank you to Chief Photographer Mummy Pixie for her services today (and the tin foil hats for the bottles), and to Daddy Pixie for the wine and the irreverance.