Thrifty District: Paint Your Own Nails

Photo courtesy of
‘Tube nails’
courtesy of ‘Phil Hawksworth’

Getting your nails done doesn’t seem like that big of an expense– what’s $20 here or there? But pampering like that is easy to cut out of your budget while still keeping your fingernails pretty and maintained at home.

Thrifty: First, you need some good supplies. At the minimum, you need nail clippers (I prefer Revlon, but you can get whatever you want), a good file, nail polish remover, cotton balls, and polish. The polish is probably the most important in this list– the cheaper the polish, the thinner it usually is and the quicker it will chip. OPI is a great polish, but CoverGirl isn’t half bad, either. All of this is available at pretty much any drugstore/Target, but I hear there’s a beauty supply store off Rte 50 that’s pretty amazing. Total cost: about $10.

If you want to add a couple more steps, you can get a nail buffer, orange stick to push back your cuticles, and I personally love cuticle oil or Burt’s Bees lemony cuticle butter to keep those cuticles looking good and moisturized.

The first thing you need to do is take off your previous polish. Get it completely off with a soaked cotton ball and then wash your hands and put on some lotion or your cuticle oil. Take a short break to let that sink in, then push back your cuticles with the orange stick (or your thumbnails). Clip and file your nails into your preferred shape, and then you’re ready to polish!

Photo courtesy of
‘nail polish’
courtesy of ‘Josefin J’

I usually start with a thin layer of clear polish (like Hard as Nails) and let that dry before going with the color. This will keep the color from staining and weakening your nails too much. Now, the hard part: putting on the color. Especially if you use that undercoat, it’s important to move pretty swiftly to apply a thin, even coat so you don’t have globs of paint on your fingers that wrinkle and rub off. Paint one line in the middle of your nail, then another strip on each side. Let dry, at least a few minutes, then do another coat if you need it.

When you’re done, DON’T MOVE. Take a minute (more like 10-15!) and just sit there and relax. I know, it’s hard to resist a little cleaning, blogging, whatever it may be, but if you’re anything like me you will cry when you look down and realize you’ve ruined all that hard work. And there you have it!

Splurge: If you’re on more of a CEO’s budget than a non-profit assistant’s budget, why not go all out? I would pick the Mandarin Oriental for a total spa experience or Aveda Georgetown’s natural and good-smelling products. However, each visit to one of those places is about triple the price of all the supplies I listed above, and they don’t even let you keep the polish!

Jasmine is a Spin magazine contributor who is completely obsessed with music and all things new and different. She’s lived in the DC area since 2006, and still has plenty to discover about this great area! Find out why she loves DC.

2 thoughts on “Thrifty District: Paint Your Own Nails

  1. Ahhh, that nail polish store off of 50 is like HEAVEN. they have essie and opi in every color they make, plus you can buy all your nail files in bulk, with foot scrubs, etc. LOVE.