I decided the nail preparation deserved its own special article as it’s the most important part of most manicures. I will refer to this when doing the preparation part of my tutorials – this will be the most detailed for those wanting to know more ^_^
This preparation is not for one specific type of manicure e.g. UV gel nails. I have split each part up in to different categories so you can refer to which ever you want more information on 🙂
The menu below is a quicker way to skip to where you want to go – just use the back button on your browser to return to this menu:
Removing nail polish
To remove nail varnish – apply a few drops of nail polish remover to your pad. Smooth the pad over your nails until the nail polish has gone and you can see your natural nails again.
Tip – To remove stubborn nail polish (e.g. glitter nail varnish), try soaking your hands in the nail polish remover for a minute before trying to remove it. Moving the pad around in small circles, whilst applying pressure, also helps to remove the nail polish.
Remember to wash your hands – for most manicures the moisture needs to be removed from your nails, so washing your hands with a non-greasy soap helps to achieve this (and because it’s painful if the remover gets in your eye ¬_¬).
Preparing your cuticles
Tidying up the cuticle area can make your manicure look more beautiful and also make it last a lot longer. If you do a manicure over cuticles that haven’t been pushed back or removed, then your cuticles will cause it to lift off – nail polish, UV gel, acrylic etc. won’t adhere to cuticles :[
The standard cuticle pusher will be metal, have a round end and a straight/sharp end. You start the process with the round end. Push back your cuticles with a fair amount of pressure, keeping the tool flat. Once this is done, use the straight end to scrape off any excess cuticle (remembering the side walls).
Alternatively, if you don’t have the metal tool, you can use an orange wood stick – I prefer to use these most of the time, I find them easier to use because they are smaller. It has a flat side (which works the same as the rounded side of the metal pusher) and a pointed side (which does the same job as the sharp side of the metal cuticle pusher).
If there is any excess cuticle left, then this will need to be removed with a cuticle cutter. Personally, I have never needed to use one of these so I can’t give any tips or tricks. I figured you can remove any excess cuticle by gently filing it away instead. This has always worked for me with no problems so I’m sure it will work for others as well.
Filing/cutting the tips of your natural nails
Cutting your nails:
You now need to pick what size in length you would like your natural nails to be.
If you only want them slightly shorter than they already are or if your nails are already at your desired length, then I advise just filing them to smooth them over or to shape them.
The best way to cut your nails is to start at one corner of your nail, working your way to the other side with small snips, until you have achieved your chosen length. Small snips, as opposed to big cuts, protects you from damaging/splitting your nails.
Filing your free edge:
The purpose of filing your free edge is to smooth it down so there are no sharp bits and to shape your nails. Below is an image of the different shapes you can have your nails.
A 180 grit nail file is recommended, but not necessary – if you have a tough nail file then only file in one direction – if you file in both (like a sawing action) it can damage/split your nails.
Filing your nail plate
For quite a few manicures e.g. UV gel manicure, filing your nail plate to dehydrate it is really important – it helps the UV gel to adhere to your natural nail, making the manicure last longer.
To file your nail plate – lightly file in one direction all across your nail, remember your side walls. The aim here is to get your nail looking white and dusty. Once you have reached this stage it means your nail plate is now free (mostly) from moisture. Do this for every nail and remember to brush away the dust (if the dust gets trapped underneath then this can also cause your manicure to lift). It is better to use a dusting brush here, blowing or using your fingers will add moisture back on to your newly filed nails 🙁
Similar to filing your free edge, a 180 grit nail file is recommended. Using a tougher one than this could damage your nail by filing too much away.
Dehydrating your nail
Filing your nails is the first step in dehydrating them (the step above will explain how to do this).
The second step is to apply a nail dehydrator – a clear liquid (that usually smells quite strong ;[). You only need a thin layer over each nail to do the job, and it only takes a minute to work (you can usually see it fading away).