Perfect painted nails
A survey by nail experts Elegant Touch found that 71% of women say they feel more confident when their nails look good. If the last place you applied nail varnish to was a ladder in your tights, read on.
Whether you like them loud or if 'barely-there' is more your style, your nails need to be in tip-top condition to look good. Just as your skin gets dull and blemished when neglected, your nails need attention too.
- Drink plenty of water and use a moisturising lotion regularly so your nails don't get dehydrated.
- Massage hand lotion into your nails, this stimulates blood flow, bringing the nutrients that help them grow.
- Get your vits. Vitamin A, zinc and calcium will keep nails strong and healthy.
- If you're washing up don some sexy marigolds. When your nails are long and strong, you'll be glad you did.
Your facemask's drying, your hair's coated in conditioner, it's time to sort out those nails!
- Start with the soak: Apply some cuticle cream or heavy moisturiser to the nail bed (the join between your finger and fingernail), then soak your fingertips in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes. When your cuticles are soft, use an orange stick to push them back, this should lift them slightly too. Now you're ready to snip the excess cuticle skin carefully and gently with a cuticle nipper.
- Shape up: According to Helen at Elegant Touch, square ended nails are the most popular look to go for, although she notes a trend for "a more gentle curve, a cross between square and oval." An emery board is best for shaping, not a nasty metal file that can burn and weaken the nail. Use a firm stroke moving repeatedly in the same direction.
- Ridges: OK Ms Perfect with the 'smooth all over' nails, you ignore this bit. Everyone else; you can choose between a ridge file and a ridge filling basecoat to even out the surface of your nails.
- Colour: Finally, the fun bit. You can match your outfit, keep it subtle or go wild with glitter glamour (fluoro shades not recommended for job interviews or visits to boyfriends' grandparents). Don't shake the bottle, it'll create air bubbles, roll it between your palms to warm the liquid. Load the brush, wipe off the excess and start with a stroke down the centre, before going on to do either side. Apply a second coat after the first is totally dry.
- Top tips: Try to use as few strokes as possible when applying colour so you don't end up with a streaky finish. A clear topcoat will keep your hard work in place for longer.
In the salon
If you prefer to be pampered by a steady-handed beautician, you can take yourself off to one of the many nail bars that are springing up around most towns. You'll have to part with between £10-£20 for a basic manicure.
If your own nails are looking a little worse for wear, how about trying false ones? You'll need some spare time, and money. Prices vary but a full set of falsies done in a salon outside London will set you back around £35, with a London nail bar costing as much as £80 for the works. It will take around one and half hours.
If you've got the dosh, you can get yourself nails so fancy no one will even notice the rest of your outfit. Choose coloured patterns, add diamanté studs, have transfers applied, or get them pierced with nail jewellery.
Veena, 19, has nails for every occasion: "Mostly I do my own and paint on patterns with a cocktail stick. You have to be patient with a steady hand. When I've got the cash I'll go to the nail bar for the works - colours, diamonds and cute little rings. They look pretty special and people always comment on them."
Zoe, 23, won't be partaking: " I think those patterned nails are really naff. I hate the falseness of it all - it looks cheap, tacky and tarty. I stick to the neat and natural look. I did try some plain false nails once, but one fell off at a really inappropriate moment, it put me off for life!"
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