Now to get to the part everyone is really curious about, applying the polish! I’ve found that the secret to making a manicure last really is the base coat and top coat. I can make a manicure last for 7 days without any chips and barely any tip wear. Considering everything that I do in my daily life, I think that’s pretty amazing!
My favorite basecoat is Orly Bonder, though I have great results with CND Stickey as well. Stickey is a little cheaper, so I’ve just ordered a big 2.3 ounce bottle of it and will be using it for most of my manis. My only issue with Stickey is that it seems to tint lighter colored manis a little green on my hands (I took a ton of pics and the Stickey keeps showing up as blue, but it really is a green color, similar to the other flavor of Scope mouth wash), this is likely because I’m so fair. I’ll be saving my Bonder for light manicures to avoid this issue. Otherwise I get equal wear with regardless of which basecoat I use. So, Stickey for mid tone or darker polishes, Bonder for light colored polishes. My wear is equal, it’s the color issue that’s really at play here.
Next is of course, color. I’ve shown Chanel’s Morning Rose, but that’s only because it had just arrived when I took these pics, so it was in the big pile of polish on my desk. My favorite polish brands: • OPI: I get the best wear out of OPI and they do have a lot of fun colors. The Sephora OPI polishes are the same formula, though they are a little more expensive. I’m not certain if the Nicole by OPI polishes are the same formula, but in general they apply just as well on me (and I prefer the Nicole brush) and they also have a great color range. • Essie: Now owned by L’Oreal, Essie can be found in your local Walmart, Drugstore and in salons. If you want a light pink/nude color, look to an Essie. They also do pigmented creme polishes very well, often only 1 or 2 coats are needed. • China Glaze • Chanel: I love the colors and the shimmer, but typically the wear is only for a 2 or 3 day manicure. I usually change so often that I don’t care. • MAC: Similar to Chanel, they have some great colors but horrible wear. I get 1-2 days max. • Sally Hansen: I admit that I’m only including them on this list for completeness. I know their Salon range wears for 7-10 days, but I really haven’t tried them myself. • Zoya: Usually a 4-5 manicure for me, the wear is a little worse than the OPI/Essie/China Glaze brands, but they also have some great colors and are free of 5 different chemicals.
My favorite top coats are Seche Vite or Poshe. I have Seche Vite right now as I bought a big pro sized bottle and just refill my bottles. Both are thicker than other brands, and apply over wet polish pretty easily. Super shiny and dry to the touch about 10 minutes after application!
So, I’ve created this little graphic to show you how I apply polish, though I’m planning to create a video for this post as well. You can click on the image to enlarge it if you want.
So, the cuticle is at the purple semicircle. Not pictured here is my first step, which is wrapping the tip of my nail in basecoat, polish or top coat. Simply run the brush along the tip of the nail. Try not to get it all over your skin, but if it is there don’t worry, you’ll clean it up later.
Next to apply polish to the nail itself. I place the end of my brush in the middle of the nail, a few millimeters from the cuticle (look at the light blue line, that’s roughly where I place the brush). I push/wiggle the brush right up to the cuticle (the yellow squiggle), and let the brush fill in the nail right up to the cuticle. I do like about a millimeter of space there, but if it gets on the cuticle that’s fine. Then I pull the brush along the nail (green arrow).
Usually I have enough polish on the brush that there will be some extra off to either side. I use this polish to help me repeat the process off to the sides. I cover the entire nail in 3 strokes, though I sometimes need 4 for my thumb. I do not reload the brush in between stroke on each nail, this results in too much polish. I do my entire left hand, then right hand and then just repeat. I rarely wait between coats, since the Seche Vite will dry all of the layers together.