There’s no need to spend money at a sketchy salon when you can give yourself a perfect manicure at home for basically free.
If you’ve been on the Internet in the past week, you probably saw “The Price of Nice Nails,” the New York Times’ astounding expose on the workers’ rights violations rampant in the nail salon industry. It revealed that the industry surrounding Americans’ nice nails is rife with exploited, underpaid workers who are exposed to ingredients that have been linked to cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, and other health problems. It was a shocking report and essential reading to anyone who gets her nails done, and in the wake of its publication, everyone seemed to wonder: What now?
Do we give up manicures entirely and go around with short, chewed-up fingernails? Do we continue to patronize our $8 manicure place and make a point of tipping very well? (That’s a nice thought, but tip-stealing appears to be endemic. Your generous bonus may never get to the person actually doing your nails.) We could patronize more expensive establishments and hope that by paying $30 for a manicure, it means someone isn’t being exploited the way they might be for an $8 or $10 manicure. But there’s one option that is guaranteed to be guilt-free: Doing your nails yourself.
Giving yourself a professional-quality manicure at home is actually quite easy, provided you can learn to steady your wrists enough to paint your own right hand. Here are X beauty hacks that will give you salon-quality results with no guilt at all.
1. Aquaphor for perfect nails
If you rub Aquaphor around the bed of your nails, it won’t matter that your hands aren’t the steadiest because no polish will stick there.
2. Or try glue
Elmer’s Glue also apparently works. This one looks more fun because I was definitely one of those kids who liked peeling glue off my hands.
3. Pick the best nail shape for your fingers
If you wear contact lenses or type for a living, you might not want to go full stiletto, but this graphic is definitely inspiring me to branch out of my oval rut.
4. File the right way
Once you’ve picked your shape, don’t cut your nails to get it. Filing will help keep your nails stronger. Use a big puffy file and file from the outside towards the center. Don’t rub back and forth; it weakens the nail.
5. How to fix a broken nail
I have brittle nails and am clumsy, so I use this trick all the time.
6. Cuticle soak
This grapefruit and honey cuticle soak is very luxurious. Always give your cuticles a little soak in warm water before pushing them back.
7. How to push back your cuticles
You want your cuticles tidy and out of the way, but you don’t want to damage them, or you’ll hurt your nails. Here’s how to push them back safely.
8. Clean your surface before painting
Before applying polish, swipe a bit of nail polish remover over the nail to make sure the surface is clean and perfect so the polish will stay longer.
9. Apply polish like a pro
This brushstroke pattern is the fastest way to get even coverage without streaks.
10. How to remove glitter polish
Glitter polish is my favorite polish, but it is just a disaster to remove. This trick with aluminum foil and cotton balls will help get it off relatively painlessly.