For ages, I used to believe the only way I could achieve a perfect-looking mani was to pay for it at the salon. While I had a handle on the basics of doing my nails at home (file, buff, paint, wait), my DIY jobs always looked inferior. After years of practice, lots of product testing and countless hours of dry time, I’ve finally found a combination of techniques and products that help me achieve glossy, long-lasting manicures—minus the professional price tag. Here are the three products I can’t lacquer without. –Meghan
1. Butter London Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator ($19)
Cutting your cuticles puts your nails at risk for all kinds of weirdness (bacterial infections, ridges, spots, lines) and makes them prone to breakage. Thank goodness this product actually lives up to its name! Just swab a tiny bit over your cuticles, wait a couple minutes and then nudge the icky debris back using an orange-wood cuticle stick or metal cuticle pusher. Even the most hardened cuticles don’t stand a chance! And while I usually would never consider spending $20 on a nail product, one bottle lasts f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Did I mention it’s also free from formaldehyde, toluene, DBP and is not tested on animals?
2. Bridge the Ridge Nail Treatment ($6)
Last year, I asked a saleswoman at Sally’s if she knew of any good ridge-fillers. Without missing a beat, she led me to the nail aisle and literally put one of these orange-topped bottles in my hand. Now my default base coat, this matte treatment preps the nail bed for polish, smoothing out the ridges, bumps and unevenness that buffing can’t.
3. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Dry & Go Drops ($7)
Antsy by nature, I can’t tell you how many manicures I’ve ruined with a smudge, smear or bump. Not only do Sally Hansen’s Dry & Go Drops accelerate dry time, they also act as a intensely shiny protective barrier that keep those inevitable accidental bumps from causing major damage. And unlike other, more-expensive accelerants I’ve tried, never once has this product interfered with the color or tone of the polish underneath.
Do you have a go-to product for perfect DIY manis? Leave a comment and let us know!
Hello lovelies! I'm Elizabeth Dehn, a beauty writer + lifestyle editor who's equally fanatical about lip gloss as juice cleansing. I live in Minneapolis with Mr. Bets and our white lab, Molly Thomas . . . MORE