Tips and Tricks to Perfecting your Mani


My nails are really something I take pride in and I always need to have them looking pretty.  I often get asked about my nails and how I get them to look so good – something I take as a huge compliment so thank you! I’ve said this before but I almost always paint my own nails unless it’s a special occasion or I’m going away in which case I’ll have Gelish put on. Not only have I got a fairly large (*blushes quite profusely*) collection of colours to choose from but I’m also very fussy about how my nails are painted and shaped (with polish that is, Gelish always looks gorgeous so I’m happy to leave that up to the professionals!) I don’t have any ground breaking secrets to how I get my manis to look neat and tidy but I can say that practice makes perfect – and with the frequency of my nail painting, I’ve had a lot of practice 😉 I did also work at a nail salon while I was studying and so that definitely helped me to get a steady hand, although it’s very different painting someone else’s nails to your own. So in this post I’ll take you through my step-by-step process to a perfect mani.

1. Remove all old polish completely – I love Sorbet’s polish remover because of it’s super easy salon pump action bottle and it’s packed with hydrating ingredients. R.46 for a 250ml bottle, available in pink, orange or green (harden, hydrate and nourish).

2. Push back cuticles – I have a nifty little tool that I’ve had forever which has a fabulous rubber end but you can use an orange stick or metal cuticle pusher. 

3. File and shape your nails to your preferred shape – mine are always squoval (square with rounded edges) I very seldom clip my nails unless I’m having to take a lot of length off because of breaks etc. Don’t saw at your nails when filing, but try to file gently in one direction to avoid splitting. 

4. Buff edges and cuticle beds – do this SOFTLY!! You can really damage your nails by over buffing and the idea here is to just remove any little bumps or bits that will get in the way of your polish. Don’t buff your nails too often, once a week is more than enough. I also have a cuticle nipper that works really well at nipping those little hang-nails and getting rid of dead cuticles but use with care as they are VERY sharp! Get this Sorbet Cuticle Nipper from Sorbet or Clicks stores for R125.

5. Wash your hands to get rid of any dust and make sure they are properly dry.

6. Base coat is a must – not only does it prevent the nail polish from staining your nails but if you get a good one (I always try find one with a protein or vitamin element) it feeds your nails too. I’m not fussy on my base coat and am currently enjoying Rimmel’s Nail Base and Top Coat (5 in 1) as it’s a thin consistency, dries quickly and gives super shiny nails.

7. Add your colour – a thin layer to start and always start the colour as close to your cuticles as possible and paint towards the ends, that way you get a neater line around the edge of your cuticle. Give the first coat a minute or two before putting the next coat on. If you are using a colour that is streaky or needs some effort to get it fully opaque, make sure you build up the colour with three (even four) thin coats – you’ll get a much more even coverage and your nails won’t look like they have clumps of smarties on them.

8. Wait a few minutes for your polish to dry before popping on a top coat and a quick dry top coat is the only way to go.  My absolute favourite of all time is Essie’s Good-To-Go and if they ever discontinue it, I will be well and truly devastated. It dries amazingly fast (see my review here) and gives your nails a gorgeous gel-like shine to it. My polished nails are often mistaken for gel and this top coat is the reason why!

On to clean-up.  You have a few choices here but do spend the time on cleaning up your polish. There’s no point in having gorgeous, polished nails if half your finger is polished too! First, make sure your nails are dry before trying to tidy up because you will end up smudging at least one nail, with out fail – trust me on this and it is annoying. I usually use an ear bud dipped in nail polish remover to go around the edges but if I need a bit more accuracy, I either wrap cotton wool around an orange stick or I use a mini paint brush ( I have a tiny one that I got in a make up kit once – I’ve still never worked out what it’s original purpose was!) A fool proof secret to getting all the polish off the edges?? Wait until you hop in the shower (this obviously depends on when you paint your nails and they must be dry too) and then just peel the unwanted polish off your skin. It works like a charm every time! 

Last but not least – Cuticle oil. I’m so bad at remembering to do this but I try and make a habit of always putting it on after painting my nails but in an ideal world, this would happen every evening before bed. Not only does cuticle oil make your top coat shine but it also feeds your nails and cuticles. I use Gelish’s Nourish Cuticle Oil available at Sorbet stores.

So there you have it, my top tips for perfecting your DIY mani. On a side note, I don’t always do all of the above, especially if I only have time for a quick paint but if I do have the time, my polish definitely lasts longer with a bit more TLC 🙂 And ladies, always, always, wear gloves when doing dishes – not only will you protect your mani, but your hands will thanks you too.

Happy painting!



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