Here’s the straight truth: If you’ve resolved to do you this year, a red manicure is the quickest way to make you feel like a bombshell. An at-home red manicure, is the quickest, most inexpensive way. Sounds like a true win-win situation, if you ask me. More money in the shoe fund.
Your at home manicure should always begin with a trim and a good filing. Shape is a matter of preference, but always file in the same direction, to minimize nail splitting and peeling. After your nails have been shaped and filed, wash your hands with warm water and then push your cuticles back with an orange stick. A cuticle nipper is optional, though it’s helpful if you have a stray hangnail. But, I would discourage frequent cuticle trimming. It’s a slippery slope; unless you’re well-trained, a nipper can encourage dry, ragged cuticles, in turn demanding more nipping. Instead, practice regular hydration (try L’Occitane’s Lavender Hand Cream for moisture with an aromatherapy benefit) and invest in a little cuticle butter to keep cuticles manageable without the need for scissors (I keep Jurlique’s Love Balm next to my phone at work for a little massage when I’m on hold). Once your cuticles are managed, finish the prep with a quick swipe of acetone-free nail polish remover and you’re ready to go!
Essie’s First Base Base Coat | NARS Jungle Red | NARS Follow Me | Essie Good to Go! Top Coat
A long-lasting, at-home manicure requires three things: a base coat, color, and a top coat. Without the base and top coats, your polish will chip immediately. Chipped nail lacquer is about as far from polished as you can get (pun most definitely intended), which defeats the purpose entirely. I’ve tried many brands, but have come to rely on Essie nail care for base and top coats. They are ubiquitous and can be found in a pinch if you’re desperate. While Seche Vite is a perennial favorite, it isn’t 3-free and contains Toulene. If that’s something that’s important to you, Essie is a wonderful alternative. Their products are free of Toulene, Formaldehyde and DBP.
Most of my favorite nail lacquers are in the pink and red family. I’ve found that darker colors, especially red-based ones, are highly pigmented and require a less viscous formulation. Some colors, like peach, are notoriously difficult to formulate and are always so streaky despite their thicker texture. But red – red looks gorgeous right out of the gate.
I start with a single layer of Essie’s First Base Base Coat, which provides a sticky base for the color to adhere to. I then swipe on two to three layers of my chosen nail lacquer, depending on the particular formulation. Jellies like Essie’s Lollipop require a little more work, while a one-coat wonder like NARS’ Tomorrow Red creme really doesn’t need much more than that. While the color is still wet, I finish with a thick coat of Essie’s Good To Go! Fast Drying Top Coat. It’s a product that truly does what it says and is dry to the touch in mere minutes. I will say that Essie’s top coat will mattify over time, especially when it comes into contact with certain body lotions (Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is the best, but the worst on my manicures), but I don’t notice it often, since I rarely keep a manicure long enough to see the difference.
So, go forth and manicure thyself. Then enjoy a few minutes of tea time and a ridiculous video while your nails dry. Have you seen the Hudson Valley Ballers? I’m officially obsessed.