For many, manicures are a coveted pampering ritual to look forward to. But with regular trips to the nail salon, costs can quickly add up. Luckily for us, we sat down with celebrity manicurist, Jackie Saulsbery, to find out how she keeps her celebrity clientele’s manicures long-lasting and red carpet-ready for the likes of Adele, Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah and more. Spoiler alert: some of the products she swears by are easily found in your home!
1. Start Your Day With a Conditioning Cuticle Oil
According to Saulsbery, the morning is the best time to apply cuticle oil as it preps your skin for any daily wear and tear ahead. But if you do not have one on hand, do not fret, just head to your pantry. Saulsbery’s insider secret is that any of your nut or plant-based oils will do the trick, and olive oil is the expert’s favorite. “It provides the hydration needed to keep nails moisturized, and helps soften your nails and cuticles, keeping them healthier and strong,” she says.
2. Do an At-home Hand Soak
The secret ingredients to her holy grail hand soak? They are probably found in your kitchen, too. “Lemon is a natural cleansing agent and apple cider vinegar is acidic, which helps to keep skin clear,” she says. Her expert recipe calls for a blend of warm water, a quartered lemon and a splash of apple cider vinegar, and is also Queen Latifah’s favorite. “Let your hands soak for about five to ten minutes. It’ll soften everything, making cuticle removal a seamless process afterward. You can also apply lemon to the nail beds pre-mani to brighten up any sallowness or discoloration.”
3. Treat Your Hands With a Deeply Moisturizing Hand Treatment
Saulsbery recommends treating hands as thoughtfully as you would your face. “Before bed, apply moisturizing hand lotion to help heal any cuts or cuticle tearing,” she says. Qtica’s Overnight Intense Hand Repair Balm is her tried-and-true treatment of choice because of its ultra-hydrating texture and reparative benefits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a favorite among clients Queen Latifah and Adele, too. “My clients are in love with the way it makes their skin feel after a manicure. I can’t take it out of my kit now because they don’t expect anything less.”
4. Always Apply a Base Coat
Before applying polish, Saulsbery relies on a solid base coat to prime nails. “They’re a manicure essential because they fill in any rough grooves and ridges, making your polish look much smoother. I love the Gabriel Cosmetics Base Coat because it works, even on thinner nails,” she says. Going au naturale with bare nails? Saulsbery advises wearing a base coat, regardless, for protection. “If you hit your hand on something, you might see white spots on your nails. It is probably not because you are not getting enough calcium, contrary to what many think. In most cases, it is just nail bruising. A proper base coat will create a barrier to stop any damage-causing friction.”
5. Look for Formaldehyde-free Polish
With all the buzz surrounding nontoxic polishes, you may be wondering if they are worth the hype. At the very least, Saulsbery advises against using formaldehyde-based polishes. She swears by Gabriel Cosmetics Nail Polishes, which her celebrity clients Rashida Jones and Taylor Swift also love. “The nail brush doesn’t hold a lot of paint, so it dries very quickly and you can get a ton of coverage and pigment with just one coat, making the application much easier.”
6. Renew a Manicure With a Fresh Layer of Top Coat Every Few Days
Saulsbery likens top coats to dry shampoo for hair. “I’d recommend reapplying a top coat at least twice a week, if not every other day. It’ll keep your polish long-lasting and vibrant looking,” she says. But be sure to wash your hands before doing so. “If you have any lingering lotion on your hands, a polish won’t sit well,” she cautions. If needed, Saulsbery recommends brushing an additional layer of top coat to the base of the nail to fill the polish in.
7. Splurge on the Occasional Luxe Hand Treatment
And finally, for occasional at-home pampering, Saulsbery says, “Invest in a good hand mask and paraffin wax machine to keep hands looking and feeling healthier.” In addition to soothing overworked hands, a paraffin wax machine offers a boost of much-needed moisture to soften skin. Hand masks should be applied twice monthly to nourish and repair any damage like splitting, dryness, brittleness, wrinkles, aching and more.
So, while you can always spend a pretty penny on a professional job well done, Saulsbery’s tips just might be the golden ticket to getting as close to the red carpet as we can. A girl can dream.
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