By Hannah Young

Not to start off sounding arrogant, but I’m pretty sure that my nails would win international nail pageants (if there were such a thing). In fact, Essie should sponsor me. My nails always seamlessly shaped, beautifully buffed, and perfectly painted. But, most proudly, I manicure them myself, which, not to boast (err, well, sort of), always comes as a shock to people.

Maintaining strong, beautiful nails, though, shouldn’t be hard work, and it isn’t. There really is a way to keep your nails looking healthy and it doesn’t take hours or break the bank. (In fact, I save so much money not paying for pricey manicures that I can stock up on a slew of my own polishes so that I have a color for any mood). So, how do I do it? Here is my foolproof at-home manicure plan for keeping those talons in tip-top shape!

–  Because I’m a recovered nail biter, using nail clippers to remove cuticles and any bits of skin has become part of my daily routine. It takes seconds to do and keeps fingers looking smooth and tidy.

–  By doing the above, when it comes to sitting down and doing my nails, there isn’t too much to do besides filing, shaping and buffing. (I’m very particular when it comes to nail shape. I like to keep mine round – not pointy, not square – but it’s a matter of preference.

–  Once I have a good, buffed shape I wash my hands and do a quick ‘clean-up file’ to make sure nails on both hands are even (one hand is ALWAYS longer than the other, if you don’t check!).

–  As a base coat I use Sally Hansen Strong Nails Now nail strengthener. Not only does it make my nails super strong, but it nourishes them as well.

–  Then comes the exciting part! Choosing and painting the polish. The trick: to make short nails appear longer, don’t paint right to the edge of each nail. Rather, leave some space either side to give the illusion of a longer, thinner nail.

–  After applying two coats of polish, top it off with a topcoat.

–  To maintain the color from chipping, reapply a layer of topcoat every 2 days and massage almond oil into your cuticles every night.

Perfectly painted pinkies are only clippers, a file and polish away!