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Benefits of at-home manicures for mental health


Confession: My at-home manicure routine mostly involves painting over my chipped nail polish right before going out. I'm always in a hurry to do this, and it comes more from a place of necessity than self-care. When things are going well, it can be hard to remember to slow down and take a breather, but I feel inspired to do so after watching Maya Feller, RDN's Self-Care Ritual. For her, an at-home manicure is a way to bring lightness to a job that can be demanding.

Feller works with patients with chronic diet-related illnesses. "Because I struggle with chronic diet-related illnesses, work can be serious sometimes," she says in our latest episode of Personal Care Nation. "I really like to have a little fun with my nails and make them shiny and colorful. It's just a way of showing my patients that it's not all serious."

What started as a way to stretch the length of her salon manicures (who: same) eventually evolved into a self-care practice that Feller loves. The key is in small touches, like using a soothing essential oil diffuser and using a thick, luxurious hand cream.

"Now that I have a family and kids, it's really interesting, because when I go to the salon, everyone's like, 'Oh, it's mum's time, leave her some 'space,'" Feller said. "But what I've actually found is that when I do the manicure at home, I get the same kind of '[feeling]and I can create this whole living room feel in my house, and it's amazing." Let's hear it for self-care acts to work in your life... wherever you are.

Brittney Boyce, nail consultant at ORLY, advises getting your nails done about once a week.

"You want to maintain your cuticles to prevent cloves from forming," she says. "Fitting your nails at least once a week also helps maintain their shape and length."

Find below the steps of a manicure at home.

How to do a manicure at home

1. Create the spa ambiance

To get that at-home spa feeling, Feller adds a few drops of Now Foods Peace & Harmony Calming Blend ($10) to her essential oil diffuser. Feller then dips her fingers in water mixed with a few drops of Now Foods Rose Water Concentrate ($9). Make sure you don't do it too long, because Boyce says it can shorten the life of your manicure.

2. Hand scrub

For this step, you can use a dedicated hand scrub, like this Sephora Collection Hand Balm & Scrub ($5), or any type of body or face scrub you have on hand. Rub the mixture on your hands and then rinse them.

3. Hand cream

Then apply your favorite hand cream to keep your hands soft and hydrated.

4. Prepare your cuticles

Boyce says to avoid cutting your cuticles yourself, as it's easy to accidentally remove too much. Instead, she advises using a cuticle remover like ORLY Cutique Cuticle & Smudge Remover ($11), then pushing back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher. "You'll see the excess cuticles gently lift quite easily," Boyce explains. "Wipe off the remover with a cotton ball soaked in water."


Apply a cuticle oil, like ORLY Argan Cuticle Oil Drops ($15), then buff your nails. Boyce says it helps nourish and hydrate your nails.

6. Cut carefully

Next, Feller loves getting in there and trimming her cuticles. Again, Boyce says to be careful with this step, and if you used a liquid cuticle remover, it's not necessary. If anything, Boyce says cut your fingernails.

7. File

"Unless you're drastically changing the length of your nail, I'd just recommend deposit your nails to your desired shape," says Boyce. Feller and Boyce recommend going for an oval or almond shape. To achieve this, "start by filing the right side of your nail in a circular motion working only toward the top center of your nail,” Boyce says. “Next, move to your left side and repeat back and forth until you get a nice almond shape. Between shaping, you want to look at your nails in two different positions to look for consistency."

8. Cleanse and apply a base coat

Clean your nails with alcohol or nail cleanser before applying polish. "You want to make sure you're applying to a clean surface that's free of any oils so your manicure lasts longer," says Boyce. "Allow nails to dry completely before continuing." Next, apply a base coat, which Boyce says helps the polish stick better.

9. Coat of color

Apply your favorite shade in thin, even coats and try to apply each coat with as few strokes as possible, says Boyce. "I recommend applying a stroke in the middle, then one on each side of the nail," she says. "This should give you just the right amount of coverage per coat." Let the first coat dry a bit before applying the second coat for more even coverage, Boyce says.

10. Topcoat

"Finish by applying a top coat to prolong wear and add shine," says Boyce. Pro Tip: You can apply a clear top coat every 2-3 days to extend your manicure.

11. Quick drying

Feller finishes with a few quick-drying drops, like Essie Quick-e Drying Drops ($10). It helps your nails dry faster.

Ready for more? A face mask queen shares her two simple rules of self-care. Then, get inspired by this makeup artists morning routine.

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