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Skip the nail salon with these 5 secrets to getting the perfect at-home manicure

by Rheana Murray /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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In light of a shocking New York Times report exposing the dark side of nail salons, many are searching for socially responsible solutions to maintain their manicures.

To skip the salon entirely, TODAY.com asked nail experts to share their secrets to getting perfect nails at home.

today-manicure-tease-150509.jpg
today-manicure-tease-150509.jpgLana K / Shutterstock

If the sound of a DIY manicure makes you nervous, don’t worry! We've got you covered. Here’s how to nail the at-home manicure once and for all:

1. Start with a clean nail

If you want the salon experience, you’ll need to file, buff and clip your nails. As for cuticles, use an orange stick to push them back—but don’t cut them, warns Michelle Mismas, founder of the popular nail polish blog All Lacquered Up.

“If you cut too close, that can lead to infection,” she said, noting that a cuticle remover like Sally Hansen’s Instant Cuticle Remover is a good alternative.

And before you do anything else, make sure your nail beds are clean.

“Sometimes acetone-based nail polishes have moisturizer in them and that leaves a little residue on the nail that keeps polish from adhering,” Mismas said. “I like to use white vinegar to get rid of any oils on the nail. You can also just use antibacterial hand soap.”

2. Skip the soak

Soaking your nails in water might feel luxurious, but it’s not a good idea if you want your polish to last, experts said.

“The water expands the nail plate and when it shrinks, the polish will kind of pop off,” Mismas said. “It’s the same reason we recommend to always use gloves when you’re washing dishes, and why so many salons are doing dry manicures.”

3. Paint smarter

Beauty blogger and Birchbox beauty expert Tati Westbrook says she has a secret trick for painting in the lines.

“I use this technique where I paint my fingers but I don’t paint my thumbs until the very end,” she said. “So I can dip my thumb nail in polish remover and clean up along the way if I make a mistake. You’ll notice they do that at the salon, too.”

Mismas adds that painting underneath the tip of the nail will make polish last longer.

“I swipe the brush under the edge of the nail, it’s called capping the free edge,” she said. “When you do that, you’re going to help reduce any sort of tip wear at the end.”

4. Be kind to cuticles

Sure, cuticle oil is a nice touch at the salon, but it’s also key to making your manicure last. Even a lotion like Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream will do the trick, Westbrook said.

“I’m a big believer in taking care of your nails as far as using a hand cream or a cuticle cream,” she said. “If you use something with a bit of oil the next day, you can cheat your way into making your nails look really fresh. It brings all the shine back, and makes it look like you just did your nails.”

Mismas said that she keeps a cuticle oil pen in her purse for on-the-go touch-ups.

“Your cuticles frame your nails, so if they look bad, your manicure doesn’t look as good,” she said.

5. Touch up with top coat

Your manicure will last longer if you give it some love throughout the week. Touch up your nails with a top coat after two or three days, Mismas suggested.

“I think it helps refresh it and helps it last longer,” she said.

For ultimate gloss, she recommends CND’s Super Shiny Top Coat.

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