What’s more soothing than pampering yourself with an at-home manicure?
Hm? Getting them done by a professional at a nail salon? OK, good point.
But for those of us who change our minds too often on which color we want to have on our tips, it would be monetarily reckless to go into a nail salon each time we wanted a re-do. So learn yourself it is!
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect — or, perfect enough that you can hurriedly paint your nails 15 minutes before heading out the door and not worry about royally fucking them up aka my actual aesthetic. All you need are a few tools: base coat, a polish whose brush is fairly wide, a quick-dry top coat and a calm demeanor so as not to haphazardly fling polish on yourself or others during the process.
⌊ the base ⌉
You might think a base coat is a base coat is a base coat, and you’re probably right, but I have found myself repurchasing OPI’s Nail Envy more often than any others. Does it actually strengthen my nails? I can’t say for sure as I’ve never been able to pin-point just why they decide to grow longer in certain phases than others, but I think it has helped my forever split nail grow past its nail bed which is a feat in and of itself. I swipe a coat of this on each nail, barely wait a minute, then go through and swipe on another coat.
⌊ the polish ⌉
As I went through my obscenely excessive nail polish collection looking for fall colors to feature here, I pulled exclusively from my OPI drawer. Yes. That’s right — I have a drawer devoted to just one brand, which means, you got it, there are other drawers filled with other brands. At my low, I had a drawer solely for glitter polishes so I’d like to think I’ve grown a lot as a person.
I’ve always liked OPI’s collections and shades, but what I like most is the wide brush. It allows you to use only three strokes to achieve complete nail coverage. I’ve heard tales of women using “thin coats” of polish and building up the color but I don’t buy into that baloney, honestly. I don’t find that using two or three “thin coats” makes any difference as far as length of wear vs. the way I slather it on.
For this manicure, I chose a color I recently picked up at Ulta but is from an Alice in Wonderland-themed collection made available earlier this year: “What’s the Hatter With You?” And, no, I don’t envy the people who need to think up these names.
I have learned in my time that dipping the brush, wiping off the excess of one side and just going for it works pretty well, though I do account for the size of nail I’m going for – less on the pinky, more on the thumb, because that just makes sense!
My process goes like this: one swipe of color down the middle, go back to the base of the nail and drag it up and out on one side, then the same for the other side. Lookit that, you have complete coverage for your first coat.
This way lends itself to not getting too much excess around your cuticles and on your fingers. You’re not wildly swiping; it’s more controlled. The OPI brush is really great at this type of application, as you can see!
So that’s all well and good … until your non-dominant hand is finished up. Listen, I’m not going to act like I’m ambidextrous or anything but I have finagled my left-hand fingers into cooperating for the few moments it takes to swipe polish onto my right-hand nails. Not perfect, but good enough to get the job done.
Once you’ve conquered the dominant hand, the nails on your other hand will be ready for their second coat – we ain’t got time to waste. You’ve already texted your friend 10 minutes ago that you were on your way. I see you. Same process, same technique for the second round.
⌊ the top coat ⌉
While your nails are still wet after their second coat, pull out the holy grail of all quick-drying top coats: Seche Vite.
No, Seche Vite is not “3-free” which means that it’s made up of chemicals that do magical, wondrous things for us. No nail polish can be natural, so I don’t lose my mind over the fact that neither is my top coat. This is the factor that allows me to grab my keys as I’m finally getting out the door and not smudge all the work I just did. I’ve literally SHOWERED approximately 15 minutes after applying this to my nails and it hasn’t come off. It’s a beautiful thing. Treat yourself.
My only grievance with this is that it gets ~goopy~ once you’ve used about half the bottle since there’s evaporation (???) that happens each time you open and use it (???) – I’m not a scientist. It still works, but it can be frustrating. I may have three half-used bottles of Seche Vite in a drawer at home, but who’s to say?
Use it liberally, and watch your nails gloss up like no other. For those of you who are feeling fancy, it’s been said that adding a line of top coat across the tip of your nail helps prevent “tip wear” aka what happens when you type away on a keyboard all day.
⌊ fav fall shades ⌉
As an extra, I thought I’d toss in a handful of my favorite fall polishes. No swatches but I will plan to do those the next time I do a nail post, pinky promise (get it?)! If you click the names, they’ll take you to swatches from other blogs to get an idea of how they look on the nail. These shades are likely floating around an Ulta near you.
Remember that greige phase we all went through? I’m still here for it, especially as summer winds down and even through the winter. Is it purple? is it grey? We don’t know, it just seems to go with everything.
This one reminds me of fall foliage. When it catches the sun, you get the sparkle, otherwise it’s fairly tame and not overly flashy on the nail like some glitters can be.
Some people don’t like a green nail, but I have no problems with it. Plus this one is dark enough that you don’t pick up on its greenness necessarily; it’s vampy for sure.
This one gets “William, It Was Really Nothing” stuck in my head every. single. time. Also a vampy shade, you can’t necessarily tell how purple it is in certain settings but it’s not so stark as a black. I’m a fan.
I like a classic red but generally only during the holiday season so this maroon shade is great for the time being. My photo captured it looking a bit lighter in the bottle than it is on the nail so check out the swatch!
My fav. The ultimate. Ride or die but actually dying as we speak. This is from a 2010 (!) collection and it has lasted longer than I thought but I know she’s leaving me soon. A perfect shade to me, but luckily similar iterations of it can be found. They won’t ever be the same, but …
Please share any of your favorite fall polish shades or tips you might have on ways to do a successful at-home manicure!