It's been roughly 18 weeks of stay-at-home orders now. How are your hands holding up? They might still be super dry, thanks to constant washing. Plus, if you're anything like me, the stress of a pandemic could have also led you to excessive nail and cuticle biting. Ouch. You're not alone, though — take it from nail artist Tom Bachik, whose work you've seen on celebrity clients Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez. "Self-isolation, stress, so much handwashing with antibacterial soaps, and non-stop use of hand sanitizers can wreak havoc on hands," he tells Allure.
All of that can lead to some pretty gnarly consequences for the nails in the short and long run. "Dehydrated nails, cuticles, and skin can lead to cracked, chipped, and peeling nails and rough or cracked cuticles," Bachik says.
People need to take care of their nails for the exact same reasons they should take care of their hair. "Think of a brittle nail that has a tendency to break as analogous to overly processed hair that frizzes and has ends that split," New York-based board-certified dermatologist Dana Stern previously explained to Allure. "We condition and protect our hair to avoid these issues."
But, sadly, professional nail care isn't exactly accessible right now. Salons are open in some states, but you might not feel safe going to one regardless — that's where Bachik comes in. In collaboration with Tweezerman, he's launching the ultimate at-home manicure kit to help you become your very own top-notch manicurist.
The Expert Manicure Set, which retails for $65, contains everything you'd ever need for at-home nail maintenance: a cuticle pusher, cuticle clippers, a miniature hangnail clipper, standard nail clippers, a toenail clipper, and a nail file. As Bachik says, this kit isn't just about having the right tools on hand — it's about having the knowledge to use them correctly.
"You want to make sure you have the right tools combined with the proper know-how to do the job safely and easily yourself when the need arises," he explains. "Whether it's a chipped nail or unexpected hangnail, having the education and the tools can keep nails and cuticles looking great and help prevent worse issues."
To help you solve and prevent any and all nail issues that could arise while you're self-isolating, Bachick has broken down his step-by-step manicure process, which you can emulate at home with his Expert Manicure Set. First thing's first: Get your nails even and shapely. "Start with the Fingernail Clipper to create shape and even out the length of nails," Bachik advises. "Then use the smooth side of the Nail File to smooth the free edge and perfect your shape."
From there, it's all about cuticle care. You can use some cuticle oil or cream paired with the kit's metal cuticle pusher to clear away stubborn or dry skin around the nails. "I like to use small circular motions as I work around the cuticle," Bachik explains. You can use the same tool to clean underneath your nails before moving onto the final step: clipping the cuticles. "Lastly, I use the Rockhard Cuticle Nipper to remove excess cuticle and any bits of dead skin like hangnails," he says.
Doesn't sound too complex, does it? It isn't. When you've got all the tools laid out for you in one neatly packaged box (and not loosely tumbling around in an old makeup bag like mine), at-home manicures become a whole lot easier. Plus, once your nails are clipped, filed, and cleaned, you'll have an even better canvas for nail-art looks. Bachick recommends going for a simple, classic design if you're spare on nail-art tools or just need practice.
"Right now I'm loving simple designs like black polka dots on a fresh white nail or using a different color polka dot on every nail," he says. "This can be done simply at home with your favorite nail shades and a toothpick to create your dots." You can make a polka-dot manicure even simpler by using your bare nails to your advantage. "I also love the simplicity of negative space nail art, like different bright polka dots on a clean, natural nail."
If you're missing manicures at the salon as much as I am right now, take a page from Bachik's book and make your own home the salon. Your nails will thank you — as will your wallet when you become your own nail-artist down the line.
The Tweezerman x Tom Bachik Expert Manicure Kit, $55, is available starting July 17 from tweezerman.com.
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Originally Appeared on Allure