Hey, here's a way to save some money: Do your own damn nails.
No, really, this works out to your benefit—pricey fake tips, acrylics and gel nails are all out of style now anyway, with the natural, short-and-kempt look taking over in the past few years.
Save those trips to the nail salon for special occasions (and when those cuticles grow out of control), and test out the following tried-and-true tips to make at-home manicures even more worthwhile than anything you can get from a professional. Promise.
BUY A GLASS NAIL FILE
Yeah, there are even fancy nail files out there. But glass files prevent long-term damage to your nails—reducing the peeling, chipping and splitting that harsh metal files or emory boards can cause on your rather delicate nails (they're not really that tough). End result? Healthier nails with neater tips. Best of all, glass files never wear down and can last you a lifetime . . . that is, if you manage to not lose them. Most nail brands make a glass file, including Revlon's crystal nail file, sold at all major drug stores for around $9.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
FIND SOME SECHE VITE
At $9.99 per bottle, Seche Vite isn't exactly the most inexpensive top coat available. But remember: This is what's going to stand between you and that soda can or that sink full of dishes. Splurge a little, and it'll make your manicure last for well more than a week. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat is widely accepted by beauty professionals as the best top coat on the market. It leaves your manicure extra-glossy, and there's almost an art to applying it. You'll want to make sure it's a thick coat, with a visible bead on the end of the brush when painting. Its consistency will flow over the nail bed, unlike any other top coat out there. You can find Seche Vite at Ulta locations.
AVOID THE BIG THREE
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde and toluene—these chemicals do everything from preventing cracking and chipping to altering the consistency of the polish. But the good news is that there are alternatives out there that do the same things and aren't, you know, toxic. Lots of nail-lacquer brands boast a Big Three-free formula, including Revlon, Sally Hansen, Deborah Lippmann, Essie, Avon and NARS.
This column appeared in print as "Doing Your Own Nails Isn’t So Tough."