NZ Woman's Weekly

Step-by-step manicure

Nails are one of the hottest fashion statements right now. If painting yours seems too much hassle, here’s how to get your best and easiest manicure yet.


Deal to ragged cuticles before you do anything else. Steer clear of cuticle nippers as it’s easy to overdo things and risk damage. Instead, use an exfoliating product such as Sally Hansen’s Cuticle Eraser & Balm $18.99 – it’s effective and fast. You can also gently push back cuticles if they need a little extra help.


Just like painting a wall, the secret to great nails is all in the preparation. The very first step is to lightly buff to give an even surface for the lacquer to stick to. Try using the smoothing side of the QVS 4 Way Buffing Block $10.99. Don’t be tempted to over-buff. Any more than once a week will weaken nails.


Remove any natural oils or cuticle cream from your nails. Simply swipe with a cotton wool pad soaked in nail polish remover. Or for convenience use Revitanail’s Conditioning Removing Wipes $7.90, which are free of acetone and enriched with vitamin E. Be sure to clean the sides of the nail where it meets your finger and along the top edge too.


In the old days when emery boards were highly abrasive the advice was always to file in only one direction to stop splitting. Choose a more forgiving file – such as the QVS Nail Shapers in Fine and Extra Fine – and you can disregard that. As far as shape goes, short, round nails are stronger and more practical, but with the trend for nail art, longer is hot again.


For the smoothest nails possible use a base coat that’s designed to fill any ridges such as Sally Hansen’s Salon Manicure Smooth & Strong Base Coat $21.99. With biotin and the marine extract spirulina, this gel-like base promises to strengthen nails and leave them looking 90% smoother instantly. A base coat is vital as it’ll prevent darker lacquer shades from staining your nails – so don’t be tempted to skip this step.

STEP SIX – Polish

For sheer ease of application, I don’t think you can go past L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Le Vernis. The brush is  at and splayed, and the colour is intense so you’ll only need one coat. It’s fast-drying, has a built-in top coat and the finish is almost as smooth as a gel colour. With 33 shades, from brights to everyday nudes, and at just $9.99 for a mini-bottle, they’re a manicure essential. Try natural shades L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Le Vernis in Opera Ballerina and Macaron Noisette.

STEP SEVEN – Retouch

For a clean, professional-looking edge, sweep round the base of the nail and at the sides if necessary with a Q-Tip soaked in remover. You can also use a concealer brush or invest in Revitanail’s latest tool, the Precision Corrector, $14.90. Its chisel tip removes smudges and excess polish without ruining the freshly painted nail.

About Nicky Pellegrino

Nicky Pellegrino has been a journalist for over 20 years, both here and in the UK, and is a former editor of New Zealand Woman's Weekly. These days, as well as working on the magazine's beauty pages, she writes popular novels like Recipe For LIfe, The Italian Wedding and The Villa Girls. For more about Nicky check out her website

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