The Best Designer Nail Polish
Ordinarily we’d say there’s no such thing as dedicated nail polish for men—pushing back against that sort of thinking is half the fun of painting your nails! But Chanel’s new Boy de Chanel polish is a fast-drying grail for men with manicures everywhere, and this jet-black hue is perfect for anyone looking to re-live their teenage emo phase.
The Best 10-Free Nail Polish
A polish that’s 10-free is specially-made absent all the ten common toxic chemicals found in most polish options. Death Valley offers an huge assortment of nontoxic (and proudly vegan!) colors, but we’re partial to this striking shade of fire-engine red.
The Best Nail Polish for Burgeoning Manicure Snobs
J.Hannah’s line of carefully designed, made-in-L.A. jewelry has earned it a devoted following, but for our money it’s the brand’s nail polish that’s the real standout. This one was inspired by the inky blue shades of Matisse.
Then prep your canvas.
You’ve got to prime before you paint, right? For Jenny Longworth, the nail artist responsible for Styles’ manicure on his internet-shattering Vogue cover, a full routine involves around half a dozen steps. (“There’s nothing nice about a raggy cuticle,” she says cheerily.)
She starts by sanitizing the nails and ending with applying a base coat, color, and top coat of polish. In between, she also trims, buffs, smoothes, and “squeaks”, degreasing the plate of the nail with a baby wipe or a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. For those following along at home, that sort of thorough pre-manicure regimen is always a solid starting point. But even a few minutes of cuticle upkeep and a base coat will make a huge difference before you reach for the polish.
The Best All-In-One Nail Kit
At first glance, does splurging on a leather-bound manicure set seem a little much? Maybe. But if you’re dead set on pulling off a flawless home manicure, you’ll want to make sure the raw materials (that’s your nails) are up to snuff. London company Czech & Speake makes grooming products of the highest order, and its nail maintenance kit includes everything you need to snip, clip, and trim your way to perfect nails—including, among other things: slanted tweezers, nail scissors, nail clippers, a nail file, and a cuticle nipper—and happens to be the sort of item you’d proudly display in a private library filled with rich mahogany and leather-bound books.
The Best Nail Brush
Like any part of your body particularly prone to dirt build-up and grime accumulation, your nails need a thorough scrubbing down every now and then. Before you slap on a coat or two of polish, treat them to a nice, leisurely rinse and let this brush’s natural boar bristles help with the heavy-duty cleaning.
The Best Beginner’s Base Coat
For veteran at-home manicurists, starting with a base coat of clear polish before adding on a layer of color is a non-negotiable. Not only will a solid base coat seal in color, the best of them are specifically designed to prevent scratching and chipping down the line.
The Best All-Purpose Nail Clippers
Tweezerman’s combo clipper comes with a curved-blade that allows for precision trimming and boasts a sharp, stainless steel edge to minimize any maintenance in between uses.
The Best Pro-Approved Cuticle Remover
When it comes to nail care, cuticles are everything. There’s a reason the pros swear by a solid cuticle remover—if you’re in a rush to get those nails painted touching up your cuticles is the easiest way to cut prep time in half. Dab a small amount of remover around the cuticles and under your nail tips, let it all sit for 15 seconds, and then gently push them back with a brush or a manicure stick wrapped in cotton. Wash it off with warm water, and voila: you’re ready to go.
The Best Easy-Application Cuticle Oil
Dr. Hauschka’s easy-to-use pen dispenses oil via a felt tip to help clean and nourish those all-important clear layers at the bottom of your nails. As an added bonus, a beveled edge does double-duty as a cuticle shaper.
Lastly, paint the things.
There’s not a whole lot to it—go slow, make sure the polish gets on your nails and not your skin, and keep adding coats until the color is as saturated as you’d like. Afterwards, there’s only one remaining cardinal rule: don’t touch anything. Air out your nails for at least ten minutes following your final coat so your fingers have time to dry, and then proceed with magazine-cover confidence.