To celebrate Valentine's Day, my friends and I decided to treat ourselves to manicure/pedicures.
I hadn't done this since high school. It's not that I don't enjoy them - last night's was a lovely way to spend the mother of all girl holidays - but they always turn out to be an unjustifiable expense. Without fail, I walk away with a smudge (or five) in my perfectly painted digits.
So I've taken the more economical approach and learned to give my nails a decent home paint job. Instead of $20 and up, plus tip, that you'd pay for a manicure or pedicure, the only cost is the bottle of polish, and the tools for the first time you do it.
Another perk of the home manicure is that you can go a little crazy with the hues you choose, and if you don't like one, it won't be an expensive mistake. And since there are some unique colors popping up for spring and summer, that's something to consider. Take a look at some of the trends, and their matches from OPI's Holland collection - each shade is $8.50 and you can visit opi.com for a list of salons that carry it.
Tangerine: Have you heard enough about tangerine? Too bad. You'll be hearing about it all year, if the fashion week shows are any indication, and now it's going to be on your nails. Get on board with A Roll in The Hague.
Jade, mint and sea green: Sure, green is not a color you would choose to associate with beauty or your skin. But these soft green shades are huge this year, and they create a subtle look that's a bit more exciting than the traditional mauve. Try Thanks a WindMillion.
Blue: Rich blues have been a fashion staple for a while now, so it's no surprise that their popularity has spread to nail color. Dark blue can be a little difficult to remove (read: is that leftover polish or frostbite?), so OPI's I Have A Herring Problem and I Don't Give A Rotterdam are both good choices for going dark, but not too saturated.
Fuchsia: Barbie nails are back! Frankly, I don't know why they ever left. Kiss Me On My Tulips is a bright pink with a very sassy name.
New nudes: Many fashion publications are calling these "foundation nails," because the idea is to pick a shade that blends almost perfectly with your skin. In that respect, Did You Hear Van Gogh may not be right for everyone, but it's a good start.
If you've never done a home manicure or pedicure before, choose a lighter shade like a nude or light green for your first effort. It's tough to correct mistakes you make with a red polish - usually it just ends up all over your hands instead. Here are some additional tips:
1. I don't usually apply base coat for time reasons. But if you have the time, go for it.
2. Most of us favor one hand for tasks like writing. That means that painting this hand will be tricky, and there's no solution besides practice. Making sure there's plenty of polish on the brush, but not so much that it bleeds, will minimize the number of brush strokes you'll need to cover the whole nail.
3. If you end up "coloring outside the lines," so to speak, use a cuticle pusher to clean up the outline. Hit the cuticle pusher with nail polish remover to get rid of the excess polish. If you have a spot somewhere else on your hand, dab it with clear nail polish, let that dry, and scrape it off easily. You can also use a small paint brush dipped in polish remover, a trick my very thorough manicurist used at the salon.
4. Apply two thin coats, and let them dry at least 15 minutes before you apply topcoat. Your manicure will last longer that way.
5. Quick dry topcoat is great for the impatient and clumsy among us, but it isn't the longest-lasting. If it's really important to you that your nails last all week, look for a no-chip top coat, and make sure you have nowhere to be and a good movie on demand.
6. Do go to a salon every once in a while. It's great fun, and there will be a noticeable difference in the softness of your hands and feet. If you own a polish you're in love with but struggle to put on, bring it to the salon.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)
A show of hands ... and feet
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