Manicure Tips from a Nail Technician

Hello Friends!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of shadowing a nail technician at a local salon here in Austin to learn some more tips about executing a proper manicure. I have plenty of experience doing manicures on myself, but I knew there was so much more to learn. Pretty much immediately after I got home, I went on Amazon and ordered some new tools so I could replicate this experience at home. Here are the top tips and products I took away from the day!

Cuticle Care

I’ve heard before that you should never cut live skin off of your “cuticle” area with those tools that look like little v’s, you know what I mean? I’m definitely guilty of this, but now I know that it can both cause you to cut yourself, and it just makes the skin grow back and sometimes it can be thicker! No one wants that. If you have excess skin below your nails, they suggested just using oil every day to soften it and make it look nicer. Don’t cut!

Cuticle Remover

The actual cuticle is the excess skin that grows over your nail bed, and you can definitely gently push that back to make a prettier manicure. This will also help your manicure last longer in general because the nail bed will be cleaner. The nail techs I worked with like using Blue Cross cuticle remover because it’s gentle, effective, and you don’t need to wash your hands after! I really like the texture of this cuticle remover, it’s kind of watery, and it works quickly. This comes in a decent sized bottle and you literally only need one drop per nail, so I’m guessing this will last a while.

Cuticle Tools

After using the cuticle remover, they used a metal cuticle pusher to gently push the skin back. Since the tool is metal, you must work very carefully so you don’t scratch your nail bed. I was a little worried about that part, but I think the metal tool is super effective and helps you work quickly too.

Clean Nail Bed

Before they started painting the nails, they ran a cotton ball with some acetone over it. This is so important because you want to have a completely clean nail bed before applying polish so it will adhere and stick for as long as possible. I also asked about the difference between acetone and non-acetone nail polish remover, and she said that one isn’t better than the other, they’re just different! I had always thought acetone was bad for your nails, but now I use a mix of the two and I love how effective acetone is at cleaning my nail brushes and getting the polish off.

Long Wearing Gel-Like Nail Polish

No surprise here, the nail techs love nail polish that promises to stay on for a longer time! They dry fast, look shiny and beautiful, and make clients happy because they get a great mani. The two kinds they raved about are the Essie Gel Couture line and CND Vinylux line. I got a red mani with the Vinylux polish and it was a gorgeous color and consistency. I’m no stranger to the Essie Gel Couture line. It’s my favorite polish to wear on my toes because it lasts forever and looks shiny and freshly polished even two weeks later!  Both polishes have special designated top coats that must be used together to achieve the long wearing effects. The nail tech explained that these polishes have special polymers in them that harden when they’re exposed to natural light, which is how the polish ends up lasting so long! The more you know…

Finishing Touches

It’s important to add some oil to your manicure after you finish painting because, at this point, you’ve dried out the area using acetone around your nails. These nail techs love using the CND Solarspeed Spray after doing the top coat. This both helps ensure the nails are dry, and has some moisturizing oil in it too! It’s the best of both worlds. This is a little pricey, so a more wallet friendly option would be a regular cuticle oil. They love the Dadi Oil but I personally just use the Sally Hansen oil I got on Amazon. As long as you’re moisturizing, your manicure should stay fresh for a few days longer.

This was such a cool experience to sit with a nail tech and pick her brain to learn so many new facts and tips. Hopefully you guys learned something new or discovered some new products. I’d love to know if you have any other tips too! Leave a comment here or on my Instagram!

Thanks for reading 🙂


– Kara






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