Manicure 101: Preparation

manicure tips, preparation
Obviously, the first step has to be preparation of the cuticle area and your nail. Here you can see the products that I use to get ready for a manicure.

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover: There are a lot of products like this on the market, but they all seem to be either much, much too strong or to do absolutely nothing. This product from Sally Hansen strikes the perfect middle ground Simply apply a small bead on your cuticle bed and it does its job while you push back cuticles and run your nail over the cuticle. Simply rinse off to find perfect cuticles!

Cuticle Trimmer: I think mine is from Revlon, but this tool costs about $2 and it is money well spent. While you shouldn't cut your cuticles themselves (they help protect you quite and bit and cutting them is just asking for an infection), I like to use this along the sides of my nails in case of a hang nail.

Emery board: Yes, I know. There are a lot of people that swear by the crystal or glass nail files instead. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I have found that those files take forever to work and don't cut down on the issues I have with splitting nails. I like to use one that is coarse and either fine or medium on the other side. This one is from Sally's Beauty Supply.

Smoothing Block: Again from Sally's Beauty, I like to smooth out my ridges just a little so I can avoid needing a separate ridge filler. The blocks come with 4 sides, #1 is a fine/medium nail file and #4 really buffs your nails to a shiny finish. I only use #2 and #3. The goal is to lightly smooth out the ridges without overly thinning out the nail, but you want to leave behind a little rough surface so that your polish has something to grab on to. If you over buff the polish will peel off very quickly. So, #2 and #3 only!

Orange Stick: In case you're not a fan of using your fingernails to push back the cuticle. I don't always use these, it truly depends on whether I feel like hunting one down in my polish stash.

Nail Clippers: I have 2 of these, a "normal" one, and one that is pointed. The regular nail clippers are to clip down my nails before filing. I like to have pretty short nails, longer ones harbor bacteria under then tip which is bad for infection control at work. So, I like to keep them about 2 mm past my nail bed. The pointed nail clipper I rarely use, but it is for those instances that I have a hang nail my Cuticle Trimmer can't take care of.


  1. I must try that cuticle remover! :) xoxo

  2. This is just the post I needed to read today - I had pink and white acrylic's on after recently removing them my nails are DESTROYED! Thank you!

  3. I love seeing what you use :)

  4. Pammy- That cuticle remover is the favorite of the MUA nail board for a reason! It's amazing!

    Elise- You should check out the Acrylic recovery tips on this notepad from Makeup Alley:
    I've heard that they are really great for those coming back from acrylics. I had completely forgotten I did the html for that page... I was a bit surprised when I went to it just now to grab the link. :D I think it's a few years old, but the tips still are good.

    Thanks Phyrra!

  5. Good to know what you use now that I am starting to become a nail polish addict (thanks cousin). Now I want to know what your favorite base and topcoat are.

  6. I'm not huge into polish because of restrictions at work, but I still like to keep my nails looking their (short) best.

    I need to go through my nail stuff and pare down to the essentials, thanks for the list.. just what I needed. :]


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