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How-To: A Lightning-Fast Manicure

You're running late for a hot date or you've got tickets to a concert. You want your nails to look amazing, but don't have the time to do the full-on manicure treatment. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to do a quickie manicure. Here's how:


  • Step one: Rinse hands with warm water. Apply an oil-based salt (or sugar) scrub to soften and exfoliate hands and nails. Spend some time working the product into each nail, pushing back cuticles as you go. Rinse again with warm water.
  • Step two: Quickly remove any residue and oils from nails twice (trust me) with nail polish remover. Keep pushing back those cuticles.
  • Step three: Choose your polish. This is more of a suggestion than a step, but I highly recommend using a medium-to-lighter shade for your speedy manicure, as dark shades aren't as forgiving of errors. Think about using a polish with a built-in base coat or a quick dry formulation. You're in a hurry, folks — this stuff's got to dry.
  • Step four: Paint! The optimal way would be the "sandwich" way — base coat, two layers of color, and top coat. This is a five-minute manicure after all, so we've got to cheat a little and do a few short tricks. The best way to paint is in a three motion process: first apply one stroke down the middle of your nail, then blend by painting one stroke on each side.
  • For more specific product and polish suggestions

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Join The Conversation
Bachelorette Bachelorette 8 years
This... doesn't seem that fast to me. I've really gotten in to nails and nail polishes this year through the MUA nail boards and all the great polish blogs that are popping up around the place, so my manicure science is getting tight. The idea of doing my nails without a base and top coat makes me a little ill, to be frank. I think if I was in a rush and my nails were looking ragged, I'd take off old polish, do my DIY version of a hand scrub, where I combine a teaspoon of salt with a few pumps of lotion and scrub my hands together over the sink before rinsing, push back cuticles, neaten tips with a glass file and give my nails a quick buff. No mess, no fuss, no smudged polish. Besides, what's wrong with taking your time with a manicure? I know a lot of women relish doing their nails once a week, I certainly do. It takes me around 40 minutes, including drying time, and I really don't fuss that much, just push back cuticles, neaten tips, base coat (LOVE CND Stickey), 2-3 coats polish, another coat of Stickey, top coat (Seche Vite for life!). I find that if you really take your time with the application it lasts much longer. I get at least 5 days to a week's wear out of my manicure, once I got into my present routine. Besides, taking time with the application is relaxing, almost like calligraphy or painting with watercolours.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
That sounds like what I do for my regular manicure, there must be steps I'm missing for a regular manicure then . Then again I'm really lazy haha.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've learned that sometimes when you know that your hands look like crap - putting on at least a clear coat makes all the difference. it's the shine that makes you look like you care about what you look like. i do appreciate these tips though. sometimes it's helpful to know what to do when you've just got a few minutes until you're out the door.
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
put a cuticle oil over the polish to prevent smudges while you dry. Or use a polish with glitter particles so you cant mess it up. For a more mature look pick a neutral color with small glitter particles so you dont look like a pre teen.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 8 years
If you dip wet nails into water, won't that just smudge your nails. when I need nails to dry fast I use the essie speed dry top coat. I swear this stuff is great and its dry in about a minute. I haven't smudged yet since using this stuff.
emalove emalove 8 years
I'd still probably end up smudging it...I always do!
juliarose23 juliarose23 8 years
that still seems like it would take quite a bit of time...
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