Want nice nails? Save money at salons and do the job at home

Base and top coats, hand exfoliators and oils make all the difference with DIY manicures

A set of ‘grown-up’ nude shades are best for day-to-day wear

A set of ‘grown-up’ nude shades are best for day-to-day wear

 

The two-week manicure is one of the most joyous beauty inventions in decades. It allows you to have “nice” nails for at least a fortnight without having to worry about chipping or upkeep.

But, they are also expensive. Running at around €40 each time, this will build to just under €1000 in a year without breaking a sweat. If a beauty writer cannot justify regular visits to the nail salon, then it does not bode well for someone who works outside the beauty world.

Of course, if nails are not important to you, then forget them – there is no objective requirement to have polished fingers (one arguable exception to that is being a beauty writer). However, I genuinely find myself in better spirits when my hands are in good condition. A stress picker, I tend to go to town on my cuticles when my nails are unpolished. Something about a clean, neat coat or two of polish will generally discourage me from indulging in that unpleasant habit, so when I cannot get to a salon, which is most of the time, I just do my own nails at home.

Ensure that you apply a base and top coat for lasting wear and a plump, glossy shine that mimics the delectable perfection of a Shellac manicure – the best I have yet found is CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat (€11.95, see www.lovecnd.com for stockists).

CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat (€11.95, lovecnd.com)
CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat (€11.95, lovecnd.com)

A couple of versatile nude shades are all you really need when it comes to colour. Indeed, shades you will use to the last drop are the only ones worth spending more than a few quid on.

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Bleached Mauve (€32 at Arnotts)
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Bleached Mauve (€32 at Arnotts)

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Bleached Mauve (€32 at Arnotts) is utterly luxurious and a very grown-up, understated nude. Nails Inc’s Kiss My Peach Polish Duo (€18 at Brown Thomas) is a fresh take on this year’s Pantone colour of the year, Living Coral. The duo of rich peaches – one of which is perfect for everyday wear – is designed for any skin tone, and offers a wearable neutral option for spring.

Nails Inc, Kiss My Peach Polish Duo (€18 at Brown Thomas)
Nails Inc, Kiss My Peach Polish Duo (€18 at Brown Thomas)

If you enjoy a foray into daring colour or fun finishes, there is no need to spend exorbitantly. At under €2, Essence polishes are affordable, and offer every trend-inspired and seasonal shade you might possibly want. Essence Shine Last & Go (€1.95 at Penneys from February 18th) is a vegan formula which comes in 50 shades including neutrals, glitters, metallics and pearls. It is the range I wish existed in my teens and early 20s, but there are plenty of more “grown-up” shades in there, too.

Essence Shine Last + Go (€1.95 at Penneys from February 18th)
Essence Shine Last + Go (€1.95 at Penneys from February 18th)

If you are doing your own nails at home, consider making a ritual of it. Olive oil and sugar makes a good exfoliator. If money is not an issue, La Mer Rejuvenating Hand Serum (€125 at Brown Thomas) takes crispy red hands and renders them supple and about five years younger looking in moments, but some cuticle oil with your favourite hand cream and a good massage will make a similarly instantaneous difference.

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