Start Doing Your Own Manicures Unless You Have A Death Wish... PLUS A Hot Dog Nail Tutorial!

Remember when Paula Abdul almost lost her thumb because of a bad manicure? That won’t happen if you do your own nails!
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Remember when Paula Abdul almost lost her thumb because of a bad manicure? That won’t happen if you do your own nails!

From the moment I step into a nail salon, I get a bad feeling. I’m eyeing every surface, checking the manicure stations and soak basins, inspecting the implements, and scrutinzing my nail tech’s hands to make sure I’m getting the absolute best service my $10 (Mon-Weds before 4PM/$20 with eyebrow threading) can buy.

Which is, of course, the problem. Manicures are a dime a dozen, and germs can go undetected by even the most bionic eyes. Beauty is pain, they say (actually, Frenchie in Grease says it), but no one should risk a wart or worse--and it can get much worse--for pretty nails.

Going to nail salons gave me giant Gollum hands! Not really, BUT IT COULD HAPPEN maybe.

Going to nail salons gave me giant Gollum hands! Not really, BUT IT COULD HAPPEN maybe.

Short of a nationwide salon crackdown, are we helpless in the war against manicure germs? We are not. I invite you to join me as a member of an exclusive club that exists in my head, and of which I am the president, known as the DYON’ers, or the Do Your Own Nail’ers.

I was doing my own nails long before I graduated from nail school. That’s right, the classy woman writing this article has a BNA: a Bachelors of Nail Arts. But it wasn’t until I ordered a pedicure and got a free side of warts from a seemingly pristine salon that I decided to take things into my own hands. (My own hands! Ha!)

Here I am, the self-elected president of the DYON'ers. I guess that makes me a dictator.

Here I am, the self-elected president of the DYON'ers. I guess that makes me a dictator.

I now exclusively do my nails at home using tools that have only ever touched my nails. And if I do find myself in a salon again, it will be for a best friend’s bachelorette party, and there will be a lot of whiskey. Whiskey: it's delicious and it sanitizes!™

Oh, are you guys without a BNA unfamiliar with the terms of my trade? The term “chop-shop” is nail slang for an in-and-out mani-mill offering up quick, cheap nail services. Most salons charge so little for manicures and pedicures that it behooves them to move clients in and out at a rapid pace so they can make more money.

Often, this means tools, pedicure soak basins and even manicurists’ hands are not given the proper attention they need to avoid spreading germs and bacteria. An unclean environment involving water, lotions, dust particles and lots of human contact can lead to some seriously disgusting and dangerous health issues.

And it’s worth mentioning that using a flash-sale coupon for a fancy salon will only cause the nail technicians to talk crap about you in their native tongue. (Think Elaine’s Korean friends in Seinfeld.) It’s a lose/lose situation, my friends.

Doing your own nails may seem overwhelming; it is a small canvas, and it takes patience, skill and precision. But there are ways to get around having a perfectly steady hand while still ending up with a beautiful manicure.

Crunched for time? Buff your nails until they shine bright like a diamond--no polish necessary! (Annie has more great tips on naked nails coming soon.)

Find yourself with an hour or more of free time on your hands? (Hands! Again! Oh, me.) Treat your manicure as a Zen experience. Take the time to steady your hands with some breathing exercises, sit and meditate while your polish dries, and then take pride in a job well done.

Once you’re feeling more comfortable as a DYON’er (I'm getting T-shirts made), try coming up with fancy nail art to impress your friends and Pinterest followers.

Here’s a recent hotdog manicure I did on myself. Insert nail-biting joke here.

Here’s a recent hotdog manicure I did on myself. Insert nail-biting joke here.

Oh, you want awesome hot dog nails? I anticipated just such a reaction! Here's how to get them.

1. Plan an activity that will keep you occupied for a half hour, but that doesn't require the use of your hands (e.g., a hands-free phone call, massaging your dog with your feet, or a very careful dance party.) This will come into play later.

2. Push those cuticles way back. Cuticles are an integral part of your nail's overall health. Did you know overgrown cuticles can suffocate your nails and cause them to weaken as they grow out? It's true! To push back cuticles, first soak your nails in warm, soapy water for about a minute, apply some cuticle remover--I love Formula 10's Pink Cuticle Remover--and gently push the cuticles back using an Orangewood nail stick. Clip your cuticles if necessary, then wash your hands again.

3. Prime and protect! Keeping in line with nail health, use Nail Tek's Step One to prime the nail, and OPI Nail Envy as your base coat.

4. Apply two coats of Orly's "Prince Charming" over the entire nail. (Who knew Prince Charming looked so much like a hot dog bun, and does that mean the princess is a hot dog? I'd watch that show.)

5. Paint a single stripe down the center of each nail using China Glaze's "Unplugged"; it looks alarmingly, deliciously like the color of a hot dog. Warning: It tastes nothing like a hot dog.

6. Time to add your toppings! Using Finger Paint's "Master Muse" carefully create a wave pattern representing the mustard. Prefer ketchup? Dirty Harry might care, but I don't. Heck, go supreme and add tiny dots of green and white for the relish and onions! Your hot dog nails, your choice!

7. The nails look good, but let's add highlights to make them really shine. I used L.A. Colors "Gold Rush" Art Deco Nail Art polish to draw lines down either side of the hot dog.

8. Apply Seche Vite's top coat and, voilà! You have nails good enough to eat! But don't! Seriously, don't.

9. They key to a lasting manicure is patience, so this is where step one comes into play. Sit back and let your nails dry. If you must multitask, choose something that doesn't require hands. Interpret that as pervertedly as you'd like.

10. Once your nails are completely dry, take a photo and tweet it to me: @phantomglennis

Good luck, and remember, the key is not perfection, but rather creativity, patience and taking the time out of your week to take care of yourself. Have fun!