Not only can you enjoy a little at-home pampering, you also save money by performing your own manicure at home. Start by smoothing your nails (which should be trimmed to your desired length) with a buffer. A flawless surface is essential for maintaining pretty nails. Try Sephora Collection 4-Step Nail Buffer ($5) to smooth and file.
Next, massage a cuticle oil, like Essie Apricot ($8.50), into skin to soften. Enriched with nourishing cottonseed and soybean oils, this gentle formula drenches skin with moisture and makes it easy to push cuticles back with an orangewood stick.
Before you add color, make sure your nails are completely free of oils. Lightly dab your nails with nail polish remover to ensure each nail is clean, clean, clean. Then you'll prep nails with a base coat. There are many favorites out there, but one tried and true that I personally vouch for is Sally Hansen Double Duty ($4.59). It moonlights as a top coat, so you can save a little if you're watching the wallet.
Nail polish trends this year run the gamut from sweet and feminine (think refreshing pastels) to bright and brazen (hello, sparkling teal) to winter white (the only mention of winter acceptable now, by the way). The Brazil Collection by OPI is to die for, with sexy hues tailored to both your conservative and playful sides. A favorite: Toucan Do It If You Try ($9), the perfect complement to a pair of metallic gold sandals.
If your tastes are more wallflower than party princess, never fear: neutrals are always in style. Try NARS Versailles Sheer Nail Polish ($19), a goes-with-everything creamy champagne with flecks of gold.
Here's one way to save some time should manicure season sneak up on you too quickly: Invest in a package of Smashbox Santigolden Age Nail Polish Art Strips ($22). You'll receive two sets of each design, both featuring expressive artwork that adds a little funk to your spring wardrobe.
And in case you're totally indecisive, Formula X for Sephora just introduced The Twenty-Two ($55), a genius set of mini nail polishes in a range of colors that include pastel pink, fiery red, and sparkly silver. Trust that you'll probably be working on these for months, but you'll never want for variety with this in your arsenal.
After you've applied two coats of your fave shade, slick on your top coat. It's essential for sealing in color, adding shine, and ensuring a longer-lasting finish. butter LONDON Hardwear P.D. Quick Top Coat ($19) is amazing for its 3-free formula and intensely glossy finish.
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