Natural Nails

Your Basic Manicure: Five Ways to Polish

Polishing is the last step to a perfect manicure and the last thing your client sees between visits here are five ways to apply polish.

  1. Half-moon or lunula. A half-moon shape, the lunula, at the base of the nails is unpolished.
  2. Slimline or free walls. Leave 1/16-inch margin on each side of the nail plate. This makes a wide nail appear narrow.
  3. Hairline tip. The nail plate is polished and 1/16 inch is removed from the free edge. This prevents polish from chipping.
  4. Free edge. The free edge of the nail is unpolished. This helps to prevent polish from chipping.
  5. Full coverage. The entire nail plate is polished.

Every nail tech should know how to give a great basic manicure. We asked Smith to show us her technique.

  1. Remove polish from the nail. It may be necessary to put cotton around the tip of an orange wood stick and use it to clean polish away from the cuticle area, shape the nails. Use the coarse side of an emery board to shape the nail. Never use a sawing back and forth motion when filing the natural nail, as this can disrupt the nail plate layers and cause splitting and peeling. Also, never file nails that have been soaking. Soaking the nails on one hand to be shortened.
  2. Soak and soften cuticles. After filing the nails on one hand, soak and soften the cuticles while you file the nails on the other hand. Apply cuticle remover, spread around the cuticles and under the free edge of each finger.
  3. Loosen and nip cuticles. Gently push back and lift cuticle off nails. Light pressure should be applied to avoid damaging the rest of the nail and the nail plate. Use your cuticle nippers to remove any excess cuticle or hangnails.
  4. Apply cuticle oil. Massage oil into each cuticle using a circular motion
  5. Clean nails. Brush the nails and hand with a nail brush to remove pieces of cuticle from the nails. Dry hands with a towel.
  6. Apply lotion. Massage into hands and arms.
  7. Remove oils. Remove all traces of oil from the nail so the polish will adhere better.
  8. Time to polish. Start with base coat, two coats of your client’s choice of polish color, and finish off with top coat.

Get in Shape

Before you begin filing your client’s nails a look at the shape of their hands, length of their fingers, and shape of their cuticles to determine the nail shape you should go with of course, don’t forget to ask what they prefer. Here are some common nail shapes.

Squoval nails should extend only slightly past the tip of the finger with the free edge rounded off. The full width of the nail remains at the free edge.

Round nails should be slightly past the tip of the finger

Oval nails look good on most women’s hands. It’s a square nail with slightly rounded corners.

Pointed nails are suited to thin hands with narrow nail beds. The nail is tapered somewhat longer than usual to enhance the slender appearance of the hand, however, these nails are weak and break easily.

Square nails are completely straight across with no rounding at the edges. The length depends on the client’s preferences.

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)


A cosmetic treatment for the hands and fingernails that involves cleaning hands and fingernails, trimming and shaping nails, and usually polishing.
Learn More

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today