Hands, fingers and nails are not usually cared for as much as other parts of the body (think how much more attention you pay to your face!), but they're the part of you most likely to be treated the worst. From washing up to gardening, hands and nails often become neglected and this results in broken, dirty nails and flaky, dry skin – not a great look! Properly looked after hands and a lovely set of nails can do wonders for your image; it shows you pay attention to yourself and care about your body.
What is a manicure?
A manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the hands and fingernails and has been around for almost 5000 years. The word “manicure” actually comes from the Latin manus, meaning “hand”, and cura meaning “care”. A standard manicure usually includes filing and shaping the nails and coating them with nail polish, as well as soaking and moisturising the hands.
However, there are also specialist manicures for just the hands, or just as a nail treatment. Some manicures can include artificial nails and/or nail art so it's up to the individual to choose exactly what they'd prefer.
Overview of a standard nail manicure
Firstly, for the nail treatment, the beautician or nail technician will remove any old nail polish you may have on your nails, or any remnants from a previous coating. This ensures your nails are back to their natural colour, and any dirt is removed. A small amount of cuticle cream will then be applied to the base of your nail (where the nail meets the skin of your finger) and rubbed in. A bowl of hot water should have been prepared before you began and you'll now need to place your hands in to soak for approximately 10 minutes. While one hand is soaking, the beautician will usually begin working on the cuticles of the other hand; an orange stick is used to push the cuticles back and separate them from the nail, so any old skin can then be cut away. Once one hand has been done, work will start on your other hand. Special nail clippers will be used to cut away the softened cuticles, and the beautician will be careful not to snip any skin that shouldn't be removed (this is often the mistake most people make when doing home manicures – they snip away too much cuticle and are left with sore, red nail beds).
As part of the nail treatment your nail technician will use an emery board, they will file your nails using a gentle stroke and begin to shape them. You'll often be asked if you prefer oval or square shaped nails, so choose depending on what shape is most suited to your own nail bed shape. Nail shape trends change so ask what the current trend is if you're unsure and want to follow it! The beautician will be trained to use strokes that won't break your nails and leave them uneven and rough (another common mistake of DIY manicures!)
Once you have perfectly shaped nails, you'll usually be given a short hand massage to help circulate the blood and leave your hands smooth and moisturised (no more flaky, dry skin!). Now it's time for the fun part; choosing a colour. If you're having a manicure done for a special occasion, make sure you choose a colour that matches both your skin colouring and outfit, or if you don't have a particular outfit in mind it's often best to go for a shade that compliments your lip colour. Alternatively you could opt for a French manicure, which gives a great natural look.
The polish will be applied in long strokes until the nail is completely covered (usually this can be achieved in a total of three strokes). The beautician will then wait until the polish is dry and apply a second coating of colour and a top coat. Make sure you give your nails at least an hour to properly set before touching them (or washing up etc.) or all the hard work will be ruined. Now you should have beautifully soft hands and perfectly polished nails!
Please note, this method is just an example and your nail manicure may vary slightly depending on different beauticians, so don't worry if your beautician changes the steps around - the results should be just as good!
- If you have weak nails and always wear nail polish, give your nails a rest and allow them time to breathe for a couple of days without polish - if you don't they'll just stay weak and probably turn a nasty shade of yellow.
- If you file your nails between manicures, avoid filing the corners of your nails too much as this can weaken them.
- Keep your nail polish in the fridge for when you need to touch up your colour (this will keep it at its best).
- Re-apply a top coat after a week or so of having your nail manicure to prolong the polish.
- Regularly moisturise your hands and cuticles to prevent them become dry and flaky.
How much does a manicure or nail treatment cost?
Nail treatments can vary greatly in price depending on where you get them done, how long they last, what is included in them and even the nail technician that is giving you your manicure.
The good news is that you can get a basic manicure without forking out too much of your hard earned cash. There is also a really wide choice of salons to go to as pretty much every beauty salon will offer a nail manicure and hand care treatment. This gives you a good chance of getting a great price.
On average in the UK you could pay as little as £5-10 for a basic treatment and up to around £40 for something extra special. If you want to make sure something particular is included in your manicure just ask your nail technician before hand.
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