Lately I’m feeling less inclined to do the high-maintenance beauty stuff. Maybe it’s age or pure laziness, but I’d also like to think it has more to do with feeling more comfortable in my own skin and also trying to clean up my beauty routine. Let's go with that one.
One easy swap for me is manicures. I’ve never been a die-hard fan of nail polish because really, who has the time and I use my hands a lot, so yeah…nope. I’m not that weekly manicure type at all.
The toes, however, are a different story. I just don’t feel groomed unless they’re polished. Constant nail varnish, however, left my nail beds yellowish and dry and they look awful if they aren’t covered, causing me to have them forever camouflaged under a cover of polish (which of course, makes them more yellowish and dry). It’s a never-ending cycle.
Last winter, I decided to quit cold turkey. I weaned myself off of nail polish altogether. The cold weather made it easier because I’m not wearing sandals, but it really didn’t take that long before my natural, seashell pink returned.
I got a quality nail buffer and a really good steel file. I relied solely on those tools and cuticle oils to whip my nail beds back into shape. I thought I was doing this alone, but suddenly; I started noticing natural, buffed nails everywhere!
A quick Google search revealed that even the girls in the Vogue offices were buffing instead of polishing. Well, that was good enough for me. Naked manicures were officially en vogue!
The best thing about a buff manicure is the release from chipping polish, but also the fact that you can maintain it at home! You need to invest in the right tools, of course, but it’s so worth it. You’ll save money and time and within weeks, you nails will look super natural. PLEASE NOTE: “No polish” manicures doesn’t mean “no maintenance.” If anything, you’ll need to spend a bit more time perfecting your cuticles. You have been warned.
I’ve been rocking my naked nails for about a month now and honestly, I love the look of them. So does Mr. Handsome who always viewed colored nail polish with suspicion. “They seem dishonest.” He reckons my newly naked toenails make my feet look “younger.” Sold.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
1. Start with clean, soft hands. I like to use a nailbrush, taking care to clean underneath my nails.
2. Soften rough cuticles with oil. Some people swear by soaking in a mixture of oil and warm milk, but I never have the patience for that sort of thing. I just do this after a warm bath or shower so my cuticles are already soft enough to push back.
3. Push back cuticles. I use an old-fashioned orangewood stick to gently push the cuticles back toward the base of the nail, clearing the nail surface for buffing.
4. Shape nails. Using a proper triple-cut steel file, I shape my nails into a roundish square. I think it’s the most universally flattering. I try not to “saw” back & forth, going only in one direction until I’m mostly happy with the shape.
5. Buff nails. This is where the magic happens! I use a fine-grit buffing block to refine my nail shape. Once that’s done, I use the same grit to sand away any roughness on the nail surface. Buff the entire surface of nails using a side-to-side motion from the roughest grit to the finest, ending with the white side to really buff to a high gloss. It really is more glossy than polish and I love that’s it’s totally chemical free!
6. Wash and set. I wash my hands again and use a rich hand cream. I then add a little extra cuticle oil to deeply condition them.
7. Maintain. Now all you need is a good chamois buffer and hand cream to keep them looking groomed. I re-do the whole thing about once every 2 weeks, with occasional chamois buffing and lots of cuticle oil in between.
I still like a traditional mani/pedi with polish for special occasions, but the best part is, the polish looks so much better on well-groomed nail beds. And they still look good once the polish comes off and I’m back in the nude again!