Get The Perfect Manicure in 3 easy steps!

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Perfect nails require more than just the “it” color of the season. First, you need a good canvas—smooth, healthy, and strong.

Here’s  how to nail your next mani!
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Raise your polished hand if you’ve spent hard-earned dough on a salon manicure, only to have it chip or fade after a few days.

And how about those cuticles that started off smooth, but are now as ragged as a saw’s edge? Turns out, there are a few reasons (beyond the temptation to update your Facebook status while drying) your nails don’t stay a perfect ten for long.

Follow this guide to make the most of your next mani.

STEP ONE: CLEAN AND PREP NAILS

Thoroughly wash your hands and feet, then scrub cuticles and the undersides of nails with a soft baby toothbrush and a gentle antibacterial soap to get rid of dirt and other debris. Pat dry.

Next, remove traces of old polish with an acetone-based solution that serves to moisturize skin around nails. Try a formula like Onyx Professional Moisturizing Nail Polish Remover ($3, Walmart or $3.29 at www.ineedbeauty.com), which contains grape seed oil and vitamin E to strengthen the nail itself, rather than just condition.

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STEP TWO: CLIP AND FILE NAILS

If the edges of your nails extend beyond their bed, trim them straight across, leaving each squared off to prevent in-growns. We like a mess-free clipper such as Hoofs Compact Manicure Kit ($7.99, ineedbeauty.com). Next, use a file to create your shape.

To determine how round or square your nail should be, we suggest mirroring the natural curve of your cuticles. Gently work your file in a back and forth motion across the edge to create the smoothest edge possible.

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STEP THREE: EXFOLIATE AND HYDRATE ROUGH SPOTS

Heels take a beating all summer, especially if you’re pounding the pavement in trendy, but often unsupportive, sandals. Using a pumice stone (We like Hoofs Miracle Double Sided Pumice Stone, $2.99 ineedbeauty.com), move your hand in circular motions to slough away dead cells. At the salon, avoid razors (they are outlawed in most states), which can cut skin and transmit infections, and avoid shaving before plopping into the pedicure station, since micronized nicks on the epidermis can allow bacteria to enter. Seal moisture back in and continue exfoliating with a lactic-acid infused moisturizer such as AmLactin Foot Cream Therapy, $12, drugstore.com).

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Shop Our Favorite Nail & Hand Products, available at Walmart or http://www.ineedbeauty.com

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