Kristin Larson, MSN Blogger and Beauty Writer
Kristin's beauty stats: 41; writes on the computer a lot, so constantly plagued by chipped nail color.
"Who doesn't want salon-looking manicured nails every day of the week? Whether you want to change up your color or have a hot date, here's my foolproof guide for achieving a perfect manicure at home! The best part is you can do your nails any time you want no appointment required.
"While I love a professional manicure, I started becoming a slave to the nail salon. Every time I chipped a nail, I would run back for a polish change or manicure. So I decided to learn how to do my nails myself. The surprising thing is my nails are a lot stronger now, and they don't peel or break as often as they did when I was getting weekly manicures. I also love that I now have an arsenal of nail colors at my disposal it's so fun!"
Cutex Quick & Gentle Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover
"First, I remove all nail polish. One trick I learned at the salon is to always use cotton balls, never paper towels. That's because paper towels are designed to absorb liquid so it will take much longer to remove the polish. I also like to use a nonacetone nail polish remover, like Cutex Quick & Gentle Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover. It's less harsh on my nails."
Cutex Nail Polish Remover, $2.49; drugstore.com
"Next, I clip my nails straight across with a nail clipper. I use a toenail clipper (Tweezerman and Dr. Scholl's both make good toenail clippers) because the large size enables me to get the shape I want in just one clip."
Tweezerman Toenail Clipper, $5; tweezerman.com
"Then, I file my nails into the squoval shape a square shape with oval edges. When filing, I use light pressure and hold the emery board at a slight angle, starting at one corner of the nail and filing toward the middle. Then I repeat on the other side. When I'm done, I touch the edges of my nails to make sure there aren't any rough areas. If there are, I need to file some more!"
We recommend RED by Kiss nail shapers; kissusa.com
Clear Base Coat
"Now I apply one coat of base coat such as Seche Clear Base Coat. The base coat creates a nice, smooth foundation for the polish. I'm right-handed, so I start with my little finger on my left hand and then move toward my thumb and then repeat in the same order on my right hand. By following an order, it ensures my nails will dry equally."
Seche Clear Base Coat, $6.99; drugstore.com
Orly Foil FX Metallic Nail Polish
"Time for polish! I shake the nail color really well and apply two coats of nail polish in the same order as above. My favorite polish right now is Orly's Foil FX Metallic colors, and I also really like the matte colors by Ginger and Liz ($12). I wait about five minutes between coats. Then, after the second coat, I paint the edges of my nails to seal in the color and make them look salon-perfect!"
Orly Metallic Nail Lacquer, $5.67; beautydeals.net
Sally Hansen Quick Care Clean-Up
"Then, I remove any nail polish I got on the outside of my nails with polish remover. I love Sally Hansen's Quick Care Clean-Up (about $9) it comes with the perfect-sized tip for the small areas under nails or on cuticles. I've also used a wooden nail stick saturated in polish remover. I stay away from Q-tips because the fuzzy texture can wreak havoc on freshly painted nails."
Sally Hansen Quick Care Clean-Up, $10; sears.com
Nail Tek Quicken Fast Dry Top Coat
"Last, I apply one coat of quick-drying topcoat, such as Nail Tek Quicken Fast Dry Top Coat. I wait at least 30 minutes to make sure my nails are dry. While I wait, I take joy in the fact that I did my nails myself. Once during Fashion Week, a total stranger said, 'Nice manicure,' and I beamed, 'I actually did them myself!' I try not to fret over tiny imperfections each time I do them they look better and better!"
Nail Tek Quicken, $10; bebeautiful.com