My self care routines have definitely changed over the last year - I'm sure yours have too! One thing I was determined to learn how to do by myself once I was no longer able to "treat" myself to a salon manicure and pedicure was the perfect at home mani! I have been doing my own nails now for just under a year and have the system down. I actually like my nails better now too. They are healthier, I've created a routine that allows for much needed "me time" and I get to have time to think on my color choice (I always felt an insane amount of pressure at the salon when they would say "Pick out your color" - I could never pick just one!)
At the end of this post, I'm sharing my referral link with you to my favorite line of nail products that has gotten me through the last year. It will save you $10 off your first purchase of $50 (the starter kit is a perfect way to start OR their new spring set), so make sure to scroll to the bottom! (As an FYI, I should mention - this post is not sponsored and I have purchased all of the products for my own use.)
I'm going to detail ALL the steps I do to get the perfect manicure that lasts me at least 10-14 days (some have lasted longer!). Having done this almost every 2 weeks over the last year has taught me a lot and I want to pass that info on to you. I'll make sure to link the products I use as I go into detail about everything! All of my products used come from Olive & June and/or Target. Target now carries *some* of the Olive & June products in store - but I don't have a coupon code for there, so keep that in mind ;-)
I had taken my last manicure off a few days before sitting down to do this one, so in my examples, my initial nails are unpainted, but you'll see in the next steps that I recommend to trim and file your nails into your preferred shape with your OLD polish still on! It's easier to see the shape of your nail (Olive & June recommends this and it's been a game changer.)
Step 1: Trim and shape your nails. I use baby clippers (even though we're done with babies) to trim my nails. I have smaller nails, but even if I didn't, I prefer using the baby clippers because they let me get a very small, precise trim when I'm trying to update the shape of my nail (that's an ORM trick ;-) ). I use the Olive & June buffer to finish rounding out and smoothing the edge of my nails after cutting. Their buffer is one of the best I've used!
Step 2: Remove your old nail polish (if needed). These nail polish remover pots are AWESOME! The one on the left is the Target Up & Up brand. It's a steal at under $3 and comes with so much product. I love that if I mess one nail up, my whole manicure doesn't get ruined, I just soak the one finger in the pot until it's polish free and start that nail again! I find the Olive & June remover (pictured on the right) is not as harsh, but it doesn't take off my nail polish as quickly as the Target brand. It is a bit more pleasant smelling, but I'm impatient, so I usually use the bigger/faster Target brand one.
Step 3: Push your cuticles back (if necessary) and buff out any imperfections on the top of your nail bed (your nail will be bare at this point). I equate this step to sanding down a piece of furniture before painting it. If you want your finish to look good, you need to use a fine grit sand paper with light pressure - same goes for your nail. Light pressure to buff out the top of your nail bed. I use the same buffer I used to shape my nail in step 1 and the cuticle stick I use is a rubber one from Target.
Step 4: Soak or swipe your nails one last time with nail polish remover. No, you're not seeing things. I'm using the same picture again because these steps are somewhat repetitive, but are used in a different order. I KNOW this step (step 4) is the step that took my manicures from 5-7 days on average to 10-14 days! When you use a swipe or dip of remover on your clean nails one more time before painting your nails, it removes oils, residue or product you have left on your nails. It provides the perfect clean slate for your nail polish to go on. Once you do this step, don't touch or do anything else! Your nails must stay perfectly clean and dried out from the remover for the polish to stick well!
My picture from the other night, when I couldn't contain my excitement!
Step 5: Paint your nails with 2-3 VERY thin coats of polish. One thing I love about the Olive & June nail polish is that the base coat is built right in to the formula. The polish levels so well! If you take your time and remind yourself that thin coats work best, all you'll need is 2-3 coats on each nail. I usually do one coat, wait 90-120 seconds, and then do my second coat. For this week's manicure, I used the color Wild Orchid from their new Spring 2021 line, and I only needed two coats. The coverage was AWESOME!
Step 6: Use the Olive and June clean up brush to fix any "outside the line" marks. No one is perfect at this! It takes practice and patience. I always loved in the salon how they would take the little tiny brushes and clean up my edges before I was finished. This little brush from Olive & June lets me do the same thing at home. I just dip the brush in one of my remover pots and then carefully clear each finger nail of any extra polish outside of my actual nail. I LOVE this step! It's so satisfying to be this patient and careful with something just for you. It's truly my self care Ah-Ha moment of the process!
Step 7: Cover your nail with one thin coat of Olive & June top coat (silver bottle). Notice I said thin. There are a few reasons for this. You don't want to create any bubbles in your nail polish at this last step - but you also want to allow room to build on your mani throughout the week. Olive & June recommends adding a new top coat every 1-3 days. I generally do it at day 5 and then again at day 8 or 9. Keeping that initial top coat thin allows me to build on it throughout the week without it looking cloudy or too thick.
Step 8 (Optional): Use dry drops to speed up the dry time of your manicure to 90 seconds! This is my number one recommended Olive & June product outside of the actual polish. It is SO legit! I can use this product and go to bed 5-10 minutes later, waking up in the morning without a smudge in sight. I have NEVER been able to say this before with any other product I've tried (I've tried plenty because I always paint my nails at night). One of the things I always struggled with for at home manicures was the inevitable smudge that would almost always happen within 45-60 minutes of me finishing my manicure. It seemed there was no way to prevent it because I had life to live (or sleep to get) and my nail polish was never totally dry. Enter this product and I have so much time back and I'm no longer walking around like I can't touch things for an hour and a half after my manicures :-)
Step 9 (Optional): If you want to get funky or fun, you can wait until the next morning to apply nail art stickers. This is where you as a reader ask yourself - is this woman a Gen Z wanna be? No, no. I'm firmly in the middle-aged mom lane, but dang if I don't like some cute (do-it myself) nails. When I was doing this manicure the other night (as we watched some mindless episode of Real Housewives... as you do when you want to zone out) I asked all of you on IG to vote nail art or just polish. 70% of you said to do the nail art! There is no right or wrong way to do these nail art stickers. Maybe you do just one accent nail, maybe you do all of them (like I did here), maybe you create a pattern that works for you - the point is, have fun! I use tweezers to help pull the tiny stickers off the sheet, but I use my fingers to lay them down. I found my hands were too shaky to put the stickers in place using the tweezers and my stickers didn't stay straight. IF you do this step - you'll follow up the sticker application with another round of thin top coat and one drop of the dry drops on each nail again to prevent smudges and speed your dry time to 90 seconds.
Step 10: Use cuticle serum and hand serum as much as you'd like (and then a bit extra!) The cuticle serum from Olive & June is an amazing product. It allows you to click it up without getting your hands/fingers messy and then you apply it all around your nail bed. This has prevented me from getting hang nails, dry nail beds, etc - even with all the obsessive hand washing of this past year! The hand serum does the same thing - but for your hands. I use it once or twice a day, especially in the winter!
Step 11: Enjoy the compliments that are about to come your way ;-)
Olive and June Spring 2021. I used Wild Orchid, second color from the right.
With my discount link below, you get the full spring set of colors for $46.
I'd also recommend the Spring 2021 Box if you want most of the tools; it would be $70 with my link (saves you $39!)
- Olive & June Nail Polish Remover
- Olive & June Cuticle Serum
- Olive & June Hand Serum (only available on the O&J site - see link above)
- Olive & June Clean Up Brush
- Olive & June Top Coat
- Olive & June Nail Polish (my favorite colors that Target carries are CV, EM, HD - the Target colors are limited, so I usually buy the polish from O&J)
- Olive & June Nail Buffer
- Olive & June Dry Drops
- Olive & June Nail Art Stickers (multiple options are available)
- Baby Finger Nail Clippers
- Rubber Cuticle Pusher (mine came out of this kit)
- Fine Point Tweezers
- Up & Up Nail Polish Remover
I hope you find this tutorial helpful! I'm anxious to hear if you try Olive & June and what colors you find you like the best! I have almost all of them and think this Spring 2021 collection is one of their best yet (Fall 2020 was awesome too)! Happy painting :-)