A DIY Manicure for a nurse’s rough hands

Nurses are hard on their hands, and nails and cuticles take the brunt of it.
But you don’t have to settle for frightening fingertips. With the right tools, you can get gorgeous nails with a DIY manicure that even Melania Trump would give the nod to.

While many hospitals give a big resounding no to fake and acrylic nails, lots of healthcare facilities allow for nail polish in clean, neutral colors (think Rose Dust – the earthy tone that’s been all over this season’s runways!) Just be sure to stock up on the following basics and invest in specialty products that will last a long time and give you great results.

The Basics

Nail Polish Remover:
It’s super important to start with a clean surface. Make sure to choose a remover that doesn’t contain acetone. While acetone-based removers are stronger, they’ll strip your nails of moisture and can leave them brittle. One of my favorites is Cutex Quick & Gentle Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover ($2 to $3). Keep cotton balls handy as tissues fall apart and don’t absorb the remover well.

Nail Clipper and File: Once you’ve removed any polish on your nails, trim your nails to your desired length and file to shape. You can get nail clippers at any drug store ($1 to $5), and I recommend Revlon Expert Shapers Nail File (two for $2.99).

Paraffin Spa: While this might seem like a silly purchase when you’re trying to save money, paraffin spas not only soften and moisturize your skin, but also increase circulation and soothe muscle and joint pain. Many manufacturers offer reasonably priced spas. ULTA Beauty carries a Shea Butter Paraffin Spa by Artemis Woman for $39.99. Well worth the price!

Cuticle Stick: After treatment, gently push back your cuticles. I don’t suggest cutting your cuticles at home — you run the risk of cutting too deep. It’s best to simply push them back to create a neat, clean nail bed. Get a package of five or more to store in your manicure kit; it will cost about $2 at any drug or beauty store.

Exfoliating Scrub: You can create an at-home scrub using ingredients from your kitchen cupboard. Combine olive oil and Epsom salt (or any medium-grain salt) in a bowl or glass. Stir or shake to mix, and scrub for a few minutes. Wash your hands after you’re finished with the scrub.

It’s important to lock in moisture with a hand cream before painting your nails. I always recommend Queen Helene Cocoa Butter ($3 to $4 for 16 ounces) to my clients to keep their bodies silky smooth, but this cheap and effective moisturizer always works well on hands, too.

Polish: The frosting on the cake! Always apply a base coat first (I like L’Oreal Pro Manicure Nail Polish Base Coat, around $5). Then it’s time to let your imagination run free!  OPI offers a great variety for under $10, and with all the money you saved on salon mani/pedis, you can splurge on Limited Edition Chanel’s Golden Sand polish!


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As the owner of one of New York City’s top salons, Alma G. often shares her favorite beauty secrets with friends and clients including Rosario Dawson, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Rachel Roy and Keri Russell. Russell even coined the phrase “Alma-tized” when first describing Alma’s innovative approach to creating her new ’do. The Alma Salon is at 38 E. 21st Street, New York, (212) 353-0600, almasalon.com.

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