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Illustration of manicure.

Nailcare: Some view it as a chore, others as a favorite form of self-care. No matter your perspective, it’s important to care for your nails — and give them some extra TLC, especially when you consider what your hands and feet do for you on a daily basis.

But when you’re trying to save time or money, or practice social distancing, going to the nail salon may not be an option. We asked Sonya Butorac, master nail technician at LifeSpa in Chanhassen, Minn., to answer some commonly asked questions about at-home nailcare. Her guidance can help you maintain strong, healthy nails at home. 

Life Time | What do I need for an at-home manicure?

Sonia Butorac | Before you start your at-home nailcare, make sure you have the right tools. Here are the essentials:

  • Nail-polish remover and cotton balls or pads
  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file and buffer
  • Hand cream and cuticle oil
  • Nail polish: Base coat, color polish, and top coat

LT | How can I keep my nails healthy at home?

SB | Your cuticles are the one of the most important parts of nail health. Moisturizing them promotes healthy nail beds and growth, so treat them with care.

Try these tips to keep your cuticles and nails in top shape:

  • Soak hands in warm water for a few minutes, then apply a cuticle oil.
  • Using a soft cloth, gently push back on your cuticles. Do not cut them as aggressive grooming can cause redness, pain, and even infection.
  • Apply a nail strengthener weekly to the top of each nail to help them look and feel stronger.
  • Use a good hand cream daily, taking time to massage it into your nails and cuticles.

LT | How can you give yourself a salon-quality manicure or pedicure at home? 

SB | When you can’t get to the salon, I recommend a few key steps:

  1. Remove all polish from your nails.
  2. If necessary, clip your nails to the desired length and file them into your preferred shape.
  3. Apply a base coat to fill in ridges and smooth out the nail.
  4. Apply two coats of color polish, allowing the first layer to dry completely before applying the second.
  5. After the second layer has dried, apply a top coat to add shine and to prevent chipping.
  6. Once your nails are completely dry, apply cuticle oil and moisturize your hands or feet.

LT | How can I make my manicure or pedicure to last longer?

SB | These are some of my favorite tips for extending the life of your polished nails:

  • If you have regular polish (not gel) on your nails, apply another clear top coat one to two days after your manicure or pedicure. This will help prevent chipping and damage to the color from going about your normal activities.
  • Use cuticle oil daily — no matter what type of polish is on your nails.
  • Wear gloves while doing the dishes, cleaning, or gardening to protect your nails.
  • To help maintain softer skin and heels after a pedicure, use a foot file on rough or calloused areas at least once per week, or more often if need be. Use the foot file on dry feet, then rinse your foot after and apply a moisturizing foot lotion.

No matter your view on nailcare, keeping your cuticles and nails in top shape is a worthwhile investment — and brings a little pampering to your stay-at-home days.

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