On the never-ending quest for the perfect at-home manicure, I’ll try anything. And there’s plenty to try. The Internet offers a wealth of tips and tricks (and unreliable photos). I decided to test out a few of the most useful manicure hacks. Scroll through to find out how well they delivered on their claims!
The Review: This soak is supposed to brighten nails and lift polish stains. There are several other variations out there (hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, denture cleaner), but I had baking soda so that’s the one I tried. Most instructions say you should soak for five to 10 minutes, so I immersed my fingers for a good eight minutes. After the soak, my nails looked a bit whiter. But I had just removed red nail polish that left a pink tinge on my nails, and I noticed only a minimal change in those stains.
The Grade: C+
The Review: Applying Vaseline or some other form of lip balm around your nails is supposed to protect the surrounding skin from wayward polish strokes. I went with good ole Chapstick for the ease of application. I coated my cuticles and began painting. Needless to say, my red lacquer strayed several times. It’s not as though I was expecting this layer of lip balm to repel polish, but it also didn’t wipe away as seamlessly as the photos on Pinterest made it seem. I will say the lacquer lifted better than it typically does. However, the cuticles at the very base of my nail (my typical trouble spot) were just as much of polished mess as ever.
The Grade: B-
The Review: Some sources say that dunking your fingers in ice water will dry your nails in three minutes. First of all, I don’t think there’s anything that will dry your nails in three minutes. (Nonetheless, I tried.) Secondly, I don’t think there’s anyone who would be able to keep their fingers submerged for three minutes straight. I needed to take a break from the freezing water about every 30 seconds. But in the end, I do think it helped speed up my dry time.
The Grade: A-
The Review: A spritz of Pam Cooking Spray is said to set your manicure and keep smudges at bay. I suppose in theory it makes sense—anything that would potentially smudge a manicure is more likely to slide off if your nails are coated in a layer of grease. And it probably does protect you from minor offenses, but if your nails are wet and you have a run in with a seatbelt, don’t expect miracles. Maybe it was more of a placebo effect than anything else, but I felt like this trick did in fact set my manicure. But it loses some points due to the greasy fingers aspect. (Tip: If you try this one, I recommend you spritz before you do the ice water dunk.)
The Grade: B+
The Review: The photos online for this trick would lead you to believe that your tongue has a magical power to make any ruined manicure like new again. No such magical power exists. But when it comes to fixing smudged nails, the options are limited. So if you’re not willing to repaint, this may be your best bet. You have to catch the smudge fairly early on, while your nails are still wet. But I was able to even out a smudge quite successfully. By no means did the smudge disappear, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. If licking nail polish is unappealing to you, you can also wet the pad of your finger and run it over the smudge to smooth it out. Although in my experience, using your finger doesn’t work quite as well.
The Grade: A-
The Review: If you’ve never used an angled eyeliner brush to clean up your manicure mistakes, you’re missing out. Once upon a time, I would reach for cotton swabs, but cotton swabs have a tendency to leave manicure-ruining fuzz behind. Brushes don’t do that. You can also use a small paintbrush, but I find that the angle of an eyeliner brush is ideal. My red manicure was the cleanest it has ever looked after I tried this trick. I was able to reach the edges of my cuticles and remove the excess color without disrupting the rest of the polish.
The Grade: A+
What manicure hacks do you swear by?