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Nailing it: Tips for the perfect home manicure

DURING these dangerous times we should all be keeping our nails maintained. They can trap bacteria and viruses, which can then be transferred to the mouth, especially if you bite your nails.

Long or false nails in particular are potentially unsuitable at the moment. Speaking to InStyle magazine, New York-based gastroenterologist Dr Niket Sonpal said: ‘Long nails are not entirely ideal during an outbreak as they take longer to clean. People are not mindful that they have to allocate more time than usual to wash the underside of the nails and they harbour more germs and bacteria.’

Some experts have said that a nicely painted manicure can stop us putting our nails in our mouths — so perhaps we should all reach for the polish. Here, award-winning beauty expert Leighton Denny shares his tips on how to paint nails perfectly.

Bubble trouble

Smooth: No bubbles here

‘Bubbles in polish are hugely annoying,’ says Denny, ‘particularly if you’ve spent a while on a home manicure only to see them appear a while later. Mostly this bubbling occurs when nail varnish is applied too thickly and then not given enough time to dry before the top coat is applied.

‘Solvents need to escape from the polish as it dries so if you apply the top coat too soon, these solvents will attempt to escape through that instead, causing you bubble trouble. Simply applying polish too thickly can result in bubbling too. Be sure to stick to the base coat, two colour coats and a top coat formula for a great finish.

‘As Good As New is a great way to revive old thickening nail polishes so it’s ideal for helping with this problem. Just add a few drops to the nail colour and roll the bottle between your palms before applying. I would always recommend taking time to do a DIY manicure to ensure there is time for each layer to dry before the next application. Once finished use my Miracle Drops. A drop of this solution on each nail will help polish to dry quicker, reducing the risk of bubbles.’

Removing nail colour

Easy does it: When removing polish, don’t rub at the nails

‘The secret to removing nail colour effectively without staining the nails is not to rub the nail with the cotton wool pad and remover,’ says Denny. ‘If you rub, this causes the remover to dilute the pigment in the nail colour and then you’re basically massaging this into your nails and cuticles.

‘It’s best to hold the cotton pad with the remover on the nail for a minute or two while it dissolves the nail colour and then swipe it off towards the tip. Nine times out of ten, all the nail colour will come off in one go, leaving the nail completely clean.’

Removing nail gels

Denny advises: ‘Take the shine off the top of the gel polish with a nail file. Saturate ten cotton balls with acetone and cover each nail with one ball. Hold it in place with tin foil, wait 15 minutes and just wipe off the gel polish.’

Repairing a cracked nail

‘If you have cracked or split a nail and you don’t want to chop it down, here is a little trick,’ says Denny. ‘Gently buff over the split with the Trio Miracle Buffer. Apply a small amount of nail adhesive over the area. Place a little bit of tissue or tea-bag mesh over the crack and let the nail glue set.

‘Once dry, gently buff and apply another coat of nail adhesive over the repair and let dry. Then gently buff again and apply base coat and colour to hide the repair. It should hold the crack until it grows out.’

…and if you’re going au naturel

If you prefer not to use nail polish, manicurist Sabrina Gayle (pictured), who works with Perfectil Plus, has some tips.

‘Healthy nails start from within and ensuring that you are eating a well-balanced and healthy diet is an essential first step,’ she says. ‘Getting the right balance of wholegrains, proteins and healthy fats will provide your body with the nutrients it needs in order to promote cell growth. Ensure you drink plenty of water. When we become dehydrated, our nails lose the moisture they need and become weak and easily damaged.’

Leighton’s seven steps to polish perfection

Precision: When applying polish, start 1/8in away from the cuticle

1. Be organised. Make sure your nails are clean before applying a base coat. This helps minimise streaks and peeling.

2. Roll the nail polish bottle between your hands to mix it up. Shaking can create those annoying air bubbles and ruin a perfectly good paint job.

3. Wipe off any excess polish from the brush on the insides of the bottle neck — the brush should have just enough on it to cover one nail.

4. Start from the base of the nail for a smoother finish. To avoid getting polish on the cuticle, place the brush on the nail about 1/8th of an inch away from the cuticle and push backwards towards it, stopping just before the skin. Then make the usual stroke up towards the tip. Always swipe the very ends of nails to stop chipping.

5. It is better to apply two thin coats of polish rather than thick coats. The thicker the coat, the longer it takes to dry. Many quick-drying polishes dry from the outside in so if you apply another coat over a thick coat that is not dry underneath, you may get indentations or smudges. Also, thick coats are more likely to chip at the tips.

6. After applying two thin, even layers of colour, wait a few minutes before applying your top coat.

7. Once the top coat is tacky, spray Miracle Mist over the polish to help speed up drying and protect the polish from smudging. This technique also stops your nails from sticking to clothing, bed sheets and even partners!

Talon-ted guy: Beauty expert Leighton Denny PICTURE: REX

Leighton’s manicure must-haves

Trio Miracle Buffer, £5

As Good As New, £12/12ml

Miracle Drops, £12/12ml

Miracle Mist, £12/75ml

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