How to: nail an at-home manicure

Black is still the hot colour for the party season - and who can resist polka dots?

Black is still the hot colour for the party season - and who can resist polka dots?

It’s time to put your salon appointments on the backburner and spend your money where it matters, on a bevy of new season lacquers instead! Now don't worry if you don't want to splash out on these newbies because if we're talking party season black is always a safe bet. Bright pinks and oranges are cropping up this summer, (check out OPI Nail Lacquer in Shorts Story, $19.95, below).

But old black isn't going anywhere and neither is nail art - and both are great for Christmas parties and New Year's Eve. But before you paint it's worth preparing your nails. Below are four simple steps guaranteed to get your nails into top gear for the party season.

 Step 1: Shape up.
Start by filing the nails to buff away at any discolouration and ridges to create an even plate for the polish. Although long nails are a runway staple, in reality the shorter the tips, the stronger the nails, which really means less chipping.


Step 2: Base notes
 For a quick treatment apply a vitamin-E based cuticle oil to the nails and leave it to soak for two minutes before removing. Oil works wonders at softening dry skin but it’s essential you remove the oil completely before applying nail polish to prevent the lacquer from bubbling. Sponging a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover across each nail bed will do the trick.

 Step 3: Under cover
The humble base coat is the first step in any professional paint job and it’s also the most underrated. Prepping the nails with a clear lacquer helps to give the polish that something extra to bind to, plus it creates a barrier to stop the polish from staining the nail bed.

 Step 4: Paint away
For lasting colour, always apply two coats of nail polish. You should be able to paint the nail in three even stokes, one on each side and one in the middle.

Open sandal season is upon us. Here are three lacquers worth adding to your polish portfolio. Below is Chanel Le Vernis in 'Island', 'Delight' and 'Holiday' - $39 each.