Perfect Ten {How To}

In my opinion, if you’re going to go to the trouble to paint your nails, why not do it well and make it last?  Seven days of non-chipped red nail color is my kind of DIY manicure.

I learned all my tricks from the darling girl who gave me my pre-baby mani/pedi right before Norah was born.  I was in an inquisitive mood, and she tolerated all my questions, offering tons of professional insight and helpful tips.  Turns out all the same tools that the professionals use are available for purchase at your local Beauty Brands or Ulta store.  Let’s get started…

Here are the tools you will need for your own top-quality made-it-last at-home manicure:

{A.} polish remover, {B.} cotton balls, {C.} base coat, {D.} nail color, and {E.} top coat

Here are the specific brands I use…

Base coat is Stickey by CND.

My favorite brands of nail polish are Essie and OPI.  This one is called Eternal Optimist by Essie.

Top coat is Seche Vite.

Yes, brands do matter.   As is the case with most things in life, when it come to nail polish, you get what you pay for.  Low quality nail products yields low quality results.  The upside is that bottles of nail polish last for quite a long time, even if you use them frequently.  So a small investment on the front end pays off for a long time.


This pump dispenser is my all-time favorite nail tool.  You fill it with polish remover, flip the lid, place your cotton ball over the tiny holes, and pump!  I feel very professional when I use it.

Now that we have discussed the supplies, here are the steps…

: : STEP ONE : :

Remove any existing polish.  Clip and file your nails, if you like.  I like shorter, squared-off nails as they seem to be more likely to last through all of life’s activities and less likely to get caught on things.  If you have flaky nails {which I get from time to time}, it’s important to file the flakes away.  Otherwise, the polish you apply on top of that flake will pop right off and leave you with a chipped nail.  Not ideal.

: : STEP TWO : :

Right before you start painting, give each nail one final wipe with a fresh cotton ball soaked with fresh polish remover.  Once you have done this, do not touch anything.  Don’t scratch your face.  Don’t touch your hair.  Don’t take a sip of your coffee.  Don’t touch ANYTHING.  If you do, you transfer microscopic oils and residue back onto the nails, and these oils prevent the polish from sticking.

: : STEP THREE : :

Apply base coat.  Apply a single thin coat to each nail.  As it dries you will notice it has a bit of a rough finish {look, but do not touch}.  The base coat grabs the polish and helps it stick to your nail.

: : STEP FOUR : :

Apply two coats of polish.  Two thin coats is always better than one thick coat.  You do not need to wait for the first coat to dry before you add the next one.  Apply the paint as closely as you can to your cuticle without actually touching it.  Same goes for the sides.  You will get better with practice.  If you do get nail polish on your skin, don’t try to fix it until everything is completely dry.  Most of the time I don’t really even worry about it because it ends up sloughing off with the course of normal activity.  You should also expect the nails that you paint with your non-dominant hand to be a bit less than perfect, unless you are slightly ambidextrous.

: : STEP FIVE : :

Apply one coat of top coat.  Do not wait for the nail polish to dry before you apply it.  The top coat I use {Seche Vita} is very thick, but it is the best.  It leaves a super-shiny, super-hard top coat that seals the color and protects it.

: : STEP SIX : :

Allow nails to dry.  According to my friendly nail professional, “technically it takes nail lacquer 24 hours to fully cure.” Practically speaking, you’re good to go in about half an hour.  Don’t try to pop open a Diet Coke or anything after 30 minutes, but you should be fine with most light to moderate hand activities.

When I do my nails it takes me 15 to 20 minutes to apply all four coats.  Then I let them dry for 30 or 40 minutes while I watch TV with the husband.   This activity usually takes place about an hour before I go to bed, and in the morning I awaken to ten perfectly painted nails.  Good morning.

And there you have it.  Nothing you can’t handle, right?

Worried about which colors to pick?  Check back for my Top Five Nail Polish Colors.

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3 Responses to Perfect Ten {How To}

  1. Krista says:

    This is all looking so good, Katherine! Found myself looking for the right color yesterday! Should have clicked here!

  2. Sarah says:

    I do love this whole post. When should I come over for my mani??

  3. Pingback: Perfect Ten {An Overview} | katherine sasser

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