Over the last year or so I’ve become increasingly interested in manicures and nail art. I’ve always loved nail polish but rarely would I spend actual time on my nails. I don’t have the steadiest of hands or the best painting skills. Most of the time, painting my nails made my hands look awful. No matter how tediously I painted I’d always end up with something looking like a 5 year old painted it. I would see pictures of other ladies with gorgeous manicures done at home and wonder why I couldn’t get my nails to look so neat and well painted. Since then I’ve done a lot of research and have come to find the true secret of a well executed manicure. The secret is all in the clean up. Here is a step by step tutorial for those that have the same problem that I had, or want to know the best method for cleaning up after a home manicure.
Before you get started, there are a few affordable tools you will need. You will need a bottle of pure acetone, a small cup or bowl, and a brush. I get my pure acetone from Sally Beauty. It’s only $2 for an 8 oz. bottle which should last the average nail painter awhile. You can also buy much larger bottles if you do your nails more frequently than normal. I designated a tiny Tupperwear cup I had laying around as my acetone cup. Any small dish or cup will suffice but you don’t really want to use a good cup or bowl since the acetone will probably ruin it. For the brush I use an angled eye liner brush or E.L.F.s concealer brush ($1). Different people have different preferences as far as the brush they like to use, but as a rule you want a small brush that is relatively stiff and sturdy.
The process is simple but it can be time consuming. Once you get the hang of it, it will take you less time.
After you’ve painted your nails, allow them to dry a bit. Pour a small amount of acetone into your cup. You can always add more later if you run out. I prefer to pour my acetone into a separate container so my large bottle doesn’t become murky or colored with nail polish waste. Dip your brush into the acetone. It is important to wipe your brush on the side of the cup to remove the excess drop of acetone, so you don’t flood your cuticles.
Start by brushing off any polish you may have gotten onto your fingers. It should come off easily with a small amount of pressure. Re-wet your brush with acetone as needed and continue until all of your nails are done. After I finish each nail I always dip my brush in the acetone and blot it onto a paper towel and then repeat, so polish doesn’t built up too much on my brush.
Once you’ve cleaned up all of your nails, you can either stop there if you like how it looks, or you can continue on for the extra neat clean up method.
For the “extra neat” clean up you will need to take a bit of polish off of your nails as well. If you’ve painted all the way to your cuticles it can look messy and/or oddly shaped if your cuticles are not perfect. It’s easy to fake a good cuticle shape though by removing the nail polish that is touching your cuticles. Using the same method as above, create a small gap between the polish and your cuticle all the way around your finger. Use short strokes and curve it around your nail, removing the polish in a nice oval shape. This will remove the excess polish that can cake up between your cuticle and the sides of your fingers as well which can cause it to look messy. This takes a little practice but it’s worth it to learn.
Up close you will notice a small gap between the nail and cuticle but from farther away it looks neat and tidy. You may have some shimmer or color reside left on your fingers. This is unavoidable sometimes. Don’t worry, that will most likely wash off next time you get a shower or wash your hands really good. Wash your hands with soap and water once you are sure your nails are fully dry and make sure to use a moisturizing hand lotion or a cuticle lotion as acetone can be very drying.
Using this method you will no doubt notice a better looking and neater manicure. This can also help your manicure last longer because you won’t be picking polish from your cuticles so you avoid the risk of peeling off some nail polish in the process.