When I was in hospitality and 99% of my work day was spent with my hands either plunged into a sink of hot soapy water or being battered around a hot coffee machine, my nails sucked. I had what I referred to as “hospo hands” which is where your nails constantly peel and you have burns, rough calluses, cracking skin and painful hangnails. I’ve now been out of hospitality for three years and honestly, it took months before my hands were nice again. Now that I’m out of hospo, I have a newfound appreciation for having a beautiful manicure. And as I never want to take that for granted, I honestly never leave the house without my nails on point.
I paint my nails weekly, on a Sunday night. And my nail polish stays put until the following Sunday with minimal to no chipping (and what chipping I do get is usually from being rough in the gym). And not to toot my own horn but (toot toot!) everyone always asks me if my nails are gels because they’re so perfect. So I thought I’d share with you guys what my routine is for a top notch manicure, because if my poor hospo hands can be transformed into #nailgoals then yours can too.
- I take off my nail polish with remover and cotton pads, then I get filing. I always use a glass nail file, I used to use emery boards (cause that’s what we had lying around the house) but they are so tough on your nails and I found my nails would just start splitting. A glass file works really well, this manicare one has been going strong two years (whereas an emery board is one or two uses) and is also great for smoothing down the tops of your nails. I used to never be able to have long nails cause they’d split and peel and I’d have to cut them short but you can just buff off the peeling layer. That and you need a nice flat base so your polish won’t have any weak areas to chip from, so buff until smooth and get rid of those nasty peeling bits.
- Once your nails are all filed to an even length, buffed smooth and shaped the way you like them, wash your hands. You’ve gotta get rid of the nail dust or your mani can end up gritty.
- BASE COAT. Oh my god. So many people tell me “my nails are weird, nail polish just chips straight away!” as if they have some rare nail condition that makes them incompatible. And when I ask what base coat they use, they say “oh I don’t use a base coat” and I just. *frustration noises* I have been using this base coat (and this exact bottle) for two years now. I genuinely believe this base coat is the best base coat in existence. Please use this base coat. It dries really quickly, it makes your manicure stay, it’s perfect. Buy it. Please. You can get it from Farmers but I couldn’t find it on their website. It’ll be around the NZ$25 mark but worth it.
- Use a high quality nail polish like Essie or OPI, I’m addicted to Essie and almost never use anything else but have a few OPI shades I like as well. I’ve tried other brands and honestly nothing holds up like Essie, nothing is as chip resistant and it has a really nice wide brush so you can paint the whole nail in 1-2 swipes. You can get Essie at some pharmacies I think, but I always get mine from Farmers because they’re NZ$22.99 and they always have good deals.
- When you’re painting, make sure you leave a tiny gap before the cuticle. If you paint over your cuticle and try to just clean it up later you’ll have a weak spot that your polish will peel from and the end result doesn’t look as professional. If you look closely, you should be able to see a tiny gap that I’ve left at the base of the nail. This is done by pushing the brush down towards the cuticle and shaping the polish without allowing it to touch the skin.
- Let it dry for like, 5 minutes between coats. I’ve heard people say 15 but I ain’t got time for that. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I always put two to three coats depending on the opacity of the polish because I like the colour to be really even.
- Almost as important as the base coat is TOP COAT! I always, without fail, reach for Essie Gel Setter. This is my second bottle of this. It gives unbelievable shine and has everyone asking me if my nails are actual gels. You don’t need a lamp for it because it’s not actual gel and again it has a huge brush so it’s super easy, one or two brush swipes and let dry. It’s NZ$24.99 and worth every cent.
- Once it’s more or less dry, finish with a really good hand cream. I use this one and I’ve never had anything like it before, I’m obsessed.
Now, I’m not a beauty therapist or manicurist or nail tech or anything like that. I’m just a personal trainer who always has nice nails. So there may be a better way to do your nails, but I haven’t found it yet! If you would like to see more evidence of my mani obsession, I tag it with #michefrancesmani on Instagram and if you try any of these tricks I would love to see them.
And as always, this post is entirely my own opinion and I do not represent anyone or anything. The products recommended here are products I genuinely love.