Salon Perfect Nails in 5 Steps!

I am always getting asked how my nails always look like they have just been done, or how I manage to get 4/5 days of chip free wear from my polishes. I thought id update my secret… 

Step One: TOOLS

The more professional the products are the better the results will be. Saying that I don’t believe professional = expensive.

how to paint your nails with a salon finish

 I’m using:

Nail polish remover
Cotton pads and buds – any type
Metal cuticle pusher
Cuticle softener
Professional nail file and buffer from Harmony
Mavala Scentifique
Base coat from LCN 
Hot Chilli colour number #361 also from LCN
Colorfix topcoat by Mavala
Cuticle oil from Harmony

Step Two: PREP

Please note: I never ever cut my cuticles!
The cuticle is live tissue and will grow back thicker in order to protect the nail plate from infection!

I use a cuticle softening oil and push back mine with a metal pusher (metal is easy to sterilise) after I have removed the cuticle which is stuck to the nail plate I use a cotton bud to gently push back and remove the excess. If you don’t have a cuticle remover apply a small amount of cuticle oil and wait for a few moments the oil will make it easier to push back.

One of the biggest myths is to soak your nails in water this will only make the polish chip and peel off faster.

I think the most important part of getting a good finish is the prep before applying your nail polish. Make sure the nail edges are even and smooth. Even if you are trying to grow your nails correct filing will remove any areas of weakness before they can get catch and break.

How to file:

I like to file along the side of my nail, not to change the shape but to smooth it so that there is nothing to catch. It is important that you try to keep the file and the nail parallel so not to remove too much.

This is something that most people are guilty of however, when it comes to filing along the top of the nail it’s vital that you file in one direction! The heat from filing back and forth dehydrates the nail plate and will often cause it to flake. You should file one stroke at a time towards the centre of the nail.

I then use the buffer (the smoothest side) to clean the edges.

buff the free edge to remove any adhesions.

Because of the oils used for pushing back the cuticle you will need to apply a little of the nail polish remover to a cotton pad and clean the surface of the nail plate from any residue. You will know if your nails are not filled properly as it will catch the cotton.

(I like to apply my nail strengthener at this point but this is an additional step)

Okay! So now your nails are free from any traces of oil, and are prepped you are ready to start painting!

Step Three: BASE COAT

Don’t load too much product on the brush it’s always better to use thin coats.

I like to apply from little finger of the left hand towards the little finger of my right but work however suits you.

Even though this base has a milky colour it dries transparently. Leave it for a few seconds to dry and then you are ready to apply the first coat of colour.

Step Four: COLOUR.

Once my base coat is dry and I apply the first coat of colour in pretty much the same manner.

I remove the brush from the bottle and wipe it against the bottleneck removing half of the polish from the side of the brush. That way I won’t over load the brush with product.

be careful not to overload the brush

Again starting with the little finger I work towards my right hand.

After a few moments you will be ready to apply the second coat. This is your chance to cover any areas you may have missed with the first layer. 

Now all that is left is to add the topcoat 🙂

Step Five: TOPCOAT.

Top coat is a vital step to prolong the life of your mani.
Make sure to keep the rim of the bottle clean to stop the topcoat from “glueing” the cap shut. If you do go to open and find it sealed you can run the lid under hot water for a few moments and it will loosen.

A great tip to keep your mani looking great is to apply a layer of topcoat every other day.


It is important to keep the cuticles nourished as when they become dry they can split. Not only is that painful but also opens the skin to invasion and you’ve guessed it FUNGUS & BACTERIA.

…and that’s it, you now have salon perfect polished nails.

finished :)

I hope you found this helpful! Do you do anything different during your home mani routine?

Love Steph x


17 thoughts on “Salon Perfect Nails in 5 Steps!

    • thinklovemakeup says:

      Unfortunately in a humid climate like where I live it takes a while for polish to dry…

      I recommend using thin coats, and trying to leave a min between each coat so the solvent’s can evaporate.

      I like to paint my nails before doing something like wasting time online, when I know I wont be doing anything to give them the time it needs.

      Hope it helps, Steph x


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