Few things earn more compliments than well-polished hands and toes. It's hard to believe, but it's true. Chipped nails can ruin even the most beautifully put together outfits, while a gorgeous burgundy nail can really increase the value of a casual shirt and jeans combo.
I am a firm believer that a manicure/pedicure is one of the true pleasures that all girls should treat themselves to on a regular basis--but there are occasions when schedules and/or wallets do not permit spending an hour or $45 on your hands and feet. It is these instances that require an especially great at-home arsenal of tips and products to reproduce the effect of your favorite salon.
Full disclosure: I have not gone a day without some sort of toe-polish since age 11. I have no idea what my unpainted foot even looks like, and I think it's best to leave it that way. Here are some standout colors that are worth a purchase:
For a timeless red: OPI-Oui Bit of Red
When you need a hot pink moment: OPI-You're a Pisa Work
Barely-there light pinky peach: Essie-Pop Art Pink
Bold baby pink: Essie-Fiji
Saucy deep purple: OPI-Marooned on the Magnificent Mile
Perfect clear topcoat: Sally Hansen-Mega Shine
Most polishes have a life-span of less than a year, so toss any bottles that have become gloppy and hard to use. These will only make you angry you didn't shell out the funds for a proper salon appointment. Who needs lunch this week anyway?
For smooth and beautiful feet and heels you might as well buy the Ped Egg (yes, the one from TV, it really does work) and a tube of Kerasal (clear repairing ointment).
As far as the at-home process is concerned, you know the drill. Remove all polish with a non-acetone remover and cotton balls (or a dryer sheet for dark colors). Trim nails to as equal a length as you have patience for and file in long sweeping motions. For painting: use less than you think for each nail starting with the center and finishing with two small strokes on the sides. When your color is dry-ish, brush each pretty tip with a nice clear top coat in hopes of replicating a salon-shiny finish. Even a clear topcoat on its own can make your hands look clean and loved. Perfect!