Doing your own nails…why it’s better…

I’ve had a long relationship with doing my own nails. Ever since I was a teenager, searching for the trendiest colours, whether it be gun metal black, or a candy inspired pastel-y blue; it’s been something that as a nail art enthusiast, I’ve known all about. As a teenager, I didn’t really have the cash or the need to go to a salon to get my nails done…and as much as the thrill of getting pampered is these days now that I’m older with a ton more on my plate…one thing still stands; I want to do my own nails.  I prefer to shape, paint and design my own nails…and here’s why…

Reasons to do DIY manicures:

  1. It’s easy to do. There is a misconception that a manicurist can do it better than you. Well, maybe they are better at painting within the lines, but ultimately, all you need is: a base coat, two colour coats and a top coat. The real trick is keeping all the coats thin so they dry relatively fast…(a cool tip for setting the polish real quick? Rub each nail with coconut/olive oil for a minute after the final coat to help it set)
  2. The myth that a manicurist shapes better…this is not true. Invest in some basic nail files, coarse for shaping and fine for smoothing, and you’ll get the loveliest shapes with your nails. My go to shape? An almond shape…short on the sides and softly arced on the tips.
  3. The misconception that the quality of the polish is better: there is so much noise out there today about gel nails, seaweed nails, and all this stuff. But when it boils down to it, the salons are using the same paints that you can buy at any quality beauty supply shop.
  4. Health reasons: you can choose to buy and use formaldehyde free polishes, “three free”, and “seven free”…basically, you can get gentler products that contain less toxins in them if you really wanted to and you should for the sake of you and your nail health.
  5. Think of the health and ethical rights of manicurists/beauty workers. I recently read this scary article about how in New York City, manicures are so cheap, like less than $10 a pop, and the reason for that is not pretty: a lot of the salon workers are immigrants that don’t get paid well, and are exploited in terrible work conditions.  Not only that, but they are exposed to really toxic nail enamel solvents and chemicals and it affects the worker’s health (even their unborn babies if they are pregnant!)  I also feel like it places a big divide between more fortunate women and less fortunate ones…At the end of the day we are all people, so don’t support these back-alley nail salons.  At least go to a higher end salon that is known to treat their workers right and pay adequately for the luxury of being pampered.
Have fun with designing and creating colour combinations…I always do!

So there it is, my 5 main reasons why it’s better to DIY your manicures.  Yes, it takes more time and effort to do your own nails, but at the end of the day, they are your nails and if you want them to glow and shine…it is a creative job that should not be “outsourced”.  🙂

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Nail design: nude nails and a splash of colour

I saw this trend a while ago online in various fashion articles.  But only recently I tried to get it with a few trial and errors!  It is this way of painting each nail with colour polish only partially, so that the nude bare nail still shows up and is part of the look.  I think of it as a variation of french tips, where instead of just painting the tips of the nails, you work with other parts of the nail to create negative space and interest.  I think partially colouring your nails is super fresh looking, because it shows part of the bare nails, and hints at idea of being naked, natural.  It gives the nail a more graphic, designed look as well!

Hello bare clean nails! If you have healthy well-shaped nails, you really can skip polish and rock those! But adding colour never hurts!
Hello bare clean nails! If you have healthy well-shaped nails, you really can skip polish sometimes.  But I always feel I need a bit of polish, which is why the partial colour is great.  You get a bit of both worlds.

Steps to doing a Colour on Nude Nail Manicure

  1. Start with clean, well shaped nails.  This is an obvious must when trying to achieve this half painted look because your nude nails are actually the star of the show!  (I wash and moisturize my nail shaft for a day or two resting them without polish, to let it breathe and grow more healthy)
  2. Just before painting them, wipe your nails with a tissue moistened with water, to remove excess oils that can cause the chipping of polishes.
  3. Let your nails dry from the wiping.
  4. First paint your nails with a transparent base coat all over the nail shaft.  The base coat helps so much because naked nails don’t receive colour evenly, so it is like a foundation.  Base coats also smooth out ridges in the nail, just make sure it is transparent so the nude nail shows.
  5. Carefully paint the design in with the colour of choice.  I like to do the moons of the nail, which is the bottom half closest to the cuticle.  I do an arched shape.  I find middle-toned polishes to work the best with this look: ie. not too dark or not too pastel.
  6. Let the first colour coat dry, then do a second coat of colour, being careful to mirror the shape from before. (This step is optional: intricate designs are not easy to apply a second coat to)
  7. Put on a clear top coat All over the nail shaft to seal it in. I love to use a clear matte polish as a topper just because it looks super natural on an uncoloured nail.
So this is the finished product. A nude nail accented by a burst of colour! There are endless variations of the nude nail with colour! An single coloured stripe would also look cool!
So this is the finished product. A nude nail accented by a burst of colour! There are endless variations of the nude nail with colour! An single coloured stripe would also look cool!

Graphically designed and painted nails that show off the natural gorgeousness of the naked nail!  Try it yourself and let me know how you like it.  I’ve seen different variations, you can do a vertical strip, do a star shape or even dot nude nails with a few jewels.   The possibilities are practically endless.  Main point to do is remember to use a base coat and top coat for best results. 🙂

Using a matte top coat on manicures remind me of meringues…

There is no cookie or confection that is more elegant and simply yummy than meringues.  The ultra light texture of crumbling sweetness dissolving into nothingness on your tongue is devine.  For those of you that have never eaten one of these things…you gotta try it. At least once.  Bonus points of this dessert is that it is definitely fat free, and flour free.

When I lived in Paris many years ago, patisseries were super common there.  Pastries, cakes and baguettes at every bakery on every corner. No donuts at all.  No Wonder Bread.  You could have every baked confectionery at your finger tips…and over there it was not “fancy” to do so on a daily basis.  It was routine every day living.  How I miss the French and their relative ease at achieving everyday classiness as the norm.  I discovered meringue cookies there, and developed an appreciation for this simple and sweet cookie. My problem was when I moved back to Toronto, I could not find meringue cookies anywhere.  It was back to pasty flavourless donuts, and overly sweet over the counter candy.  I had to teach myself how to make these things. (This post is about nail jobs, and I am getting there, trust me.)  And after many failed attempts at creating meringue at home here, I finally perfected a recipe that works.  Making meringue is a little trickier than regular cookie dough because it relies on timing to get the fluffiest volume of egg whites.  Here is my recipe:

They look fluffy, but are crisp, light and super sweet! Kinda like crunchy cotton candy!
They look fluffy, but are crisp, light and super sweet! Kinda like crunchy cotton candy!

Pretty and Pretty Easy Meringue Cookie recipe:

egg whites of 6 large eggs

1 and 1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Step 1: Separate the egg whites.  Do this while they are cold from the fridge, and do it MOST carefully.  Even a speck of egg yolk will prevent your whites from reaching peak volume.  Leave it in a bowl to warm up to room temperature (1 hour approx.)

Step 2:  Beating.  This part is very important and is what making meringue is all about.  Timing is key here.  Start with a medium/low speed and beat the eggwhites with an electric beater until it is foamy.  Not stiff enough to hold any peaks. Add your cream of tartar, and continue beating medium/slow until the second stage which is soft peaks.  This is when your egg whites are starting to stiffen and turn whiter.  Soft peaks hold when you pull up the beater. This is when you slowly add the sugar, bit by bit, giving time for each spoonful to incorporate into the egg white mixture and add even more structure and stiffness to it.  Keep beating and adding the sugar at a steady rate. About a tablespoon for 5-10 seconds, until all the sugar is in.  Add your vanilla and almond extract.  Let it reach full volume by beating at medium/low for a minute or two.  And when you feel it is at max stiffness, stop and enjoy the beautiful white fluffy batter.

Step 3: Using two spoons, scoop a dollop of the batter and slide it off with the other spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Make sure they are irregular shaped and not perfect, because they bake out beautifully.

Step 4: Baking/Drying:  Meringue cookies are not really baked.  They are actually drying out in the oven, hence the low oven temperature of 200.  Some people bake meringues at a lower temperature for longer, but I find 200 C for 2 hours in the middle racks is perfect. Turn off and leave alone for at least an hour…feel free to experiment a bit with time until perfect.  ENJOY!

These cookies are so delicious on their own or with whipped cream and fruit.  A lot of people put a bit of food colouring into them so that they take on all shades of pastel colours.  My recent nail job was inspired by the meringue because matte pastel nail colours really remind me of the sweet and smooth texture and prettiness of this cookie.  I recently matte top coated my nails in pastel colours of pink, blue and white.  Meringue inspired fun with nails!

Yummy pastel colours remind me of candy and meringue.  Use a matte top coat...
Yummy pastel colours remind me of candy and meringue. Use a matte top coat…