How to Give Yourself a Great Manicure

Hip hands everywhere these days sport multiple rings—thereby necessitating a pretty manicure for gals around the globe. Don't hide your silver and gold or leave your fingers unadorned because of less-than-lovely nails. By following these simple steps, you'll gain traffic-stopping, shiny nails—the new must-have beauty feature:

Got Milk?    to top

Great nails begin with a healthy diet rich in calcium. You'll avoid peeling, cracking, and dry, brittle nails if you drink your milk, eat a balanced diet, and drink lots of water.

Moisturize    to top

Make moisturizing your hands a habit. In fact, here's a little tip that'll produce shiny, hydrated nails: Rub Chap Stick, or a heavy lanolin-based product such as Bag Balm, on clean nails (these are available at most pharmacies and drug stores). Your nails, like your skin, become damaged under harsh elements and sometimes need a little extra care. A thick moisturizer will work wonders.

Soaking Wet    to top

Before you even turn the cap on your polish, prepare the nail and cuticles for the big event. Begin by soaking your fingers for about five minutes in soapy, warm water. The water softens overgrown and dry cuticles. But don't soak too long; water can damage the nail and weaken it.

In lieu of soaking, try one of the many cuticle creams available.

Push 'em Back    to top

Once the cuticles are soft, take an orange stick and push them back to expose as much of the nail as possible. Use cuticle clippers (specially designed to get at those hard-to-cut areas) and snip off dry, dead skin around the nail bed.

Shapely Showing    to top

Now, take a nail file and carefully shape the nail either round or square—whichever you prefer. Make sure to gently file. If you file your delicate nails like you pumice the calluses on your feet, you'll damage them.

Smooth Operator: Base    to top

Now that your nails are prepared, apply the base coat. The base coat fills in any ridges or inconsistencies on your nail, smoothing the way for the polish. Base coats also increase your chances of a lasting manicure.

Polished to Perfection    to top

Finally, it's time to polish. Today's teens are opting for pale, shimmering shades of pink. Light is right, so choose a blush tone or a clear polish with a touch of sparkle and go for it with two coats. Make sure to sweep the brush from just above the cuticle to the end of the nail. Avoid painting the cuticle; as your nail grows, the paint and cuticle will pull away from each other, resulting in your polish lifting and peeling. Take your time; don't rush. Allow the polish to dry between each, coat.

Top Coat    to top

The final, stage of a "mad-cool" manicure is the top coat. Top coats set the polish so the paint won't chip. A good top coat also evens out any slight color differences. Several of the top coats on the market also provide a quick-drying agent—a good deterrent to smudges.

That's it. In eight easy steps, your nails can turn from horrid to hottie. And if you want to really turn up the "tight" factor, add a flower decal to your ring finger nails.

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