You’re either a nails person or you aren’t. It’s that simple. Granted, there’s a whole lot of lifestyle variables that factor into this mani-preoccupation, but rest assured, if you’re reading this we trust that you at least aspire to be a “nails person.” If you’ve got a steady hand, there’s really no reason it has to be difficult, either. Whether you opt for a naturally coy “I’m not wearing any polish, my nails are just always this glossy” look, or you’re a die-hard nail art junkie, there are really easy things to keep around to make your mani looks fresh for days to come.
Cuticle Oil. You will find these in pretty much any nail/beauty aisle of the drugstore. It’s a simple thing that a manicurist uses when you get your nails done that elevates the result so much more, but you probably don’t give a second thought to at home. If you wear your nails neutral or natural most of the time, your cuticles are the tell-tale sign of just how ragged you run your nails. Massaging in cuticle oil to the tips of your fingers the same way you would apply hand moisturizer after washing your hands will stretch that mani so much longer. A little oil gently brushed on a finished mani will also lessen the chance of smudges when you’ve got to get going but your nails aren’t totally dry yet.
A White Manicure Pencil. These have come a long way since your mother used them. They’re basically used to draw underneath the tips of your nails to make it appear much whiter and cleaner. Sally Hansen makes a water-activated one that has a gel-like consistency despite being a pencil. Not only are you cleaning underneath your nails but you’re also making them look nice and bright.
Cuticle clippers. Pushing your cuticles back does nothing. Okay, it does something but only for about a minute, until your cuticles scoot back down. It’s like trying to keep up socks without garters. Trimming your cuticles (carefully) exposes a tiny bit more nail, visually elongating your nails. Just make sure to soak your digits in some warm water for a couple minutes to soften your cuticles first and then trim away. These little sniper clippers also come in handy for taking care of hangnails in the most painless way possible.
A nail buffer. The fatter cousin to the nail file, these prickly spongy bricks even out and polish the natural surface of your nail to the point of making them look almost like you painted them with a clear coat. Most people have natural ridges on the nail surface and taking a buffer to it easily gives you that hand-model look. You can even gently even out the edges of your nails to make the whole surface as evenly textured as possible. Sometimes nail files are just too rough, leaving ragged edges where your nail has leverage to peel or break.
Nail Polish Remover Pen. This will make your life so much easier. Nobody’s perfect and sometimes you will get a little polish on your cuticles or the sides of your nails and a nail polish remover-soaked cotton swab is just too thick to really get to the offending paint. These pens allow you to reach all the awkward creases where polish may stray so your mani never looks DIY—even if it is.