Spending hours at a nail salon having your tips buffed, wrapped, and polished until they gleam may sound glamorous. But in the real world, who has the time? The thing is, just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean you should ignore your nails; you just need a better, more schedule-friendly way to take care of them. That’s where we come in. Here’s everything you need for low-maintenance nail care to be done once a fortnight:
The Essential Tools
Nail clipper fine-grit nail file (splurge on a big file, forget those measly emery boards), wooden cuticle stick, cuticle oil, three-sided nail buffer.
Prep cuticles. Swipe a bit of cuticle oil across the base of each nail, making sure to cover the entire cuticle. The oil will condition your cuticle and nails, and soften the cuticle so it’s easier to push back.
Trim nails. Use your nail clipper to gently trim your nails to a length you like (anything over ¼ inch past your fingertip is too long). Try to cut your nails straight across; doing so will allow you to custom-shape them with your file.
File nails. Choose a shape you like, either square or oval. Manicure experts suggest that your nail tip’s shape should mirror the curve of your cuticle (that is, if your cuticles go straight across your nail bed, your tip should be squared; if your cuticles are softly rounded, your tip should be oval). But let your style preference be your primary guide. Don’t worry about filing nails in one direction only; do, however, avoid filing into the sides of your nails, which will make them weak and prone be breaking.
Push back cuticles. By now the cuticle oil you applied earlier will have softened your cuticles, which makes them ready to be pushed back. (Why push them back, you ask? Because by removing any cuticle skin clinging to the nail, your nail naturally looks longer and more elegant). To push back cuticles, place the wooden stick flat against your nail and gently push toward your finger. The key word here is gentle, as pushing too hard can cause trauma to your nail or pull the cuticle away from the nail plate, opening it to the infection. If your cuticle skin is stubborn, don’t fight it; leave it for your next manicure.
Buff away. For women who don’t have the time or patience to polish, buffing is the perfect fix. Begin by swiping the roughest side of your buffer across each nail; this smooths away ridges and discoloration. Next, take the second roughest surface, and swipe it over each nail. This further smooths any roughness left behind by the first surface. Finally, swipe the smooth side over each nail until it shines.