Friday, January 25, 2013

How to Ask for the Perfect Mani

The number of specialty mani/pedi spas popping up around the island is increasing and it is now possible to get a great manicure at a spa that is within 10 minutes of where you live.  But even with the increase in numbers, sometimes the quality is just - mediocre.  The place is impeccable, the service great - but they skimp out on basic steps that really make a difference to the overall service.

Being a previous owner of a nail spa, I was very focused on making sure the little details were taken care of so that the manicure looks good not today, but still looks good in three days.  Shiny, neat, and chip/peel-free.
This manicure is 1 week old.

Important note #1:
Always ask for a wooden stick instead of the usual stainless steel pusher.  Unlike your toenails, your fingernails are much more delicate and the cuticles are prone to irritability.  Wooden sticks do not scrape against your nail bed and push your cuticles gently.  If the spa/salon you frequent  doesn't carry one, buy one and make sure you always take it with you.

Important note #2:
Do not massacre your cuticles.  Unfortunately many nail techs like to attack your cuticles and chop the living daylight out of them.  Ask them not to.  You may feel like the only way to get a clean mani is to cut all dead skin, but all you need to cut is the 'excess' dry skin.  A manicure shouldn't hurt.  The more skin you cut the more it'll grow - so it's a vicious circle.  Just instruct your nail tech to go easy on your cuticles and just cut the excess.  Trust me.

Important note #3:
Your nail must be wiped clean prior to applying polish.  No matter how little lotion/oil they slather on your hands and arms, it needs to be completely wiped of your entire nail and cuticle.  Not with antiseptic spray.  Not with a wet towel.  Not with a tissue.  And especially not with a cotton ball that leaves a ton of lint behind and then your actual polish has hairs/bumps.  Ask for a lint-free cotton pad.  If the spa/salon don't carry then, then once the nail tech is done with the cotton pad, ask her to do another wipe with a tissue soaked with a bit of polish remover just to remove any remaining residue.  This is a very important step.  This ensures that no residue whatsoever remains on your nail bed.  Water does not wash off any oil-based lotions so you will find your polish peeling/chipping easily within a day or so or after a long hot bath.

Important note #4:
Never shake the polish bottle.  The amount of bubbles that result is not funny.  Really.  Ask your nail tech to gently roll it between her hands.  If she shook it already, then ask for another bottle.

Important note #5:
Make sure you use a good base coat.  Also, make sure you use a good top coat.  And no, they are not the same.  If the nail spa you are at doesn't have or God forbid they use one bottle for all.  Shoot them.  Or go ahead and use what they have but bear in mind the polish won't last long.  Invest in a good base coat and an even better top coat.

Follow these steps to the core:  Base coat first.  Completely dry.  Two coats of polish.  Completely dry. Then top coat. Quick dry drops or even quick dry spay if you are in a hurry.

I recommend OPI or Trind for the base.  Nothing beats Seche Vite for a top coat.

Important note #6:
Leave a short gap between your cuticles and polish.  Going any closer is just messy.  After a day or so your cuticles start to settle and might actually result in the polish peeling by the cuticles.  Leaving a gap makes the mani look clean and last longer.

Important note #7:
If the polish is thick, ask for another bottle.  Thick polish applies horribly, takes ages to dry, and looks 'bumpy'.  It also means it's an old polish bottle.  Polish is meant to apply easily and with no smears.  Two coats are all you need sometimes, but going to three coats means you have a total of FIVE coats on.  This translates into 10 hours of drying.  It actually takes an average of 8 hours for polish to completely dry through and through.  You know how sometimes you have a manicure in the afternoon and next morning you get hair/pillow prints on your polish? Yes - it takes a while for polish to completely dry.  What I tend to do is skip the top coat and apply it on my own the next day.

Important note #8:
Dark and short, light and long.  If you are going for a dark shade, then short and neat nails are best. Long and dark looks vampy.  On the other hand, if you like your nails long, go light with pastels or even white-tips.  Forever classic.  Irrespective of what's fashionable - square or square-rounded nails are always in, flattering to any hand, and classy.

Important note #9:
Ask your nail tech to SEAL the polish.  Applying polish to the free edge of the nail (the tip) ensures that your nail polish is sealed.  It locks in the color and gives you a  cleaner, long-lasting look.  Sealing is basically applying polish to the tip of the nail after the final brush stroke.  It is applied perpendicular to the nail and honestly - makes a difference.

Important note #10:
Maintain your mani at home.  In between appointments, constantly moisturize your hands, apply cuticle oil/balm nightly, and every 2 or 3 days apply a good top coat to maintain shine and minimize chipping. Don't bite, nibble, or tear at your nails.  Make an appointment every 10 to 14 days - not sooner.  Sooner is too soon.

This manicure is 10 days old.  My next appointment is tomorrow.

So here it is ladies.  My ten tips for your ten tips.  Accumulated after hundreds of visits. Use them well.  You deserve a good manicure - it's your right.  Your hands will thank you.

Note: OPI and Seche Vite are both available at Nazih.  Trind is available at Dessange.

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