Looking "done" has never been more chic. Is it any wonder, then, that well-groomed nails have taken centre stage? "Nails are becoming more important than ever," says Jamie Ross, creative director at The Doneger Group, a trend forecaster based in New York. "With less disposable income, women pay more attention to the little luxuries of life." Models at DSquared2 and Dior sported jewelled cuffs and bangles on their wrists, while their nails - in darks, shades of classic red and two-toned looks - became extensions of these statement-making accessories. Debbie Zoller, makeup designer for the retro-inspired TV show Mad Men (which, coincidentally, provided inspiration for Michael Kors' fall collection), calls red nails "the ultimate statement of femininity." As Zoller explains, "It's the equivalent of the little black dress in a woman's wardrobe." Meanwhile, a new classic - the dark nail - is here to stay. "It makes a bold statement," says Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice-president and artistic director for OPI. "It started a couple of years ago, and it has become a year-round staple."
Follow these tips for a salon-worthy manicure at home.
• Before applying polish, prime your nails with a base coat. A base coat is a must - especially when using dark shades - because nails can be porous and absorb colour, creating a yellowing effect, says Doug Atkinson, executive trainer and spokesperson for Coty Beauty Colour Cosmetics.
• Dark colours require flawless application, says Julie St-Laurent, a senior makeup artist for M.A.C. For even colour distribution, use the three-stroke polish technique favoured by aestheticians: Apply one stroke in the middle, one on the left and one on the right. "The fewer the strokes, the smoother the application," says St-Laurent.
• For that coveted mirror-like sheen, finish your polish with a shine-enhancing topcoat. Atkinson suggests Sally Hansen Mega Shine Top Coat. "It gives that gleaming, sleek wet look," he says. Apply it seven days a week to keep your mani looking fresh every day.
• Pamper your hands. "Keep your cuticles in good shape by using a cuticle oil twice a day, especially in winter," says OPI's Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. "And when you moisturize your face in the morning and at night, don't forget your hands."