Better Homes and Gardens lays out the rules for a quick and easy at-home manicure. Prepping your nails doesn’t require as much “fancy potions” as you might think, says Rescue Your Nails author and salon owner Ji Baek. Soaking your nails in oil and pushing cuticles back instead of cutting will protect the nail from germs and prevent the cuticle from growing out crooked.
To shape the nails, try something gentle like crystal or cardboard and avoid sawing back and forth (it causes splitting!). You also want to keep the “squoval” shape in mind so nails are straight on the sides and slightly domed on top.
Before applying polish, remove oil and excess moisture with an acetone-based formula to help keep your manicure lasting as long as possible. Stay with neutral colors as chips and streaks will be less noticeable. After applying the base coat, wait two minutes before applying each coat. Finish with a top coat and maintain the look by reapplying a thin layer of clear coat daily.
Some of the essentials for every consumer's toolbox include Essie's Crystal file, All Season's Curette Nail Cleaner, Tweezerman's Zip File, CND's ScrubFresh Nail Surface Cleanser, and Essie's Nail Corrector Pen.