Take it off!
“Acetone has such a drying effect — the harsh chemical can cause breakage — so opt for a non-acetone remover with built-in conditioner to take off old polish,” says Kay. Douse a cotton ball and wipe from the base of the nail toward the free edge to avoid getting polish on your skin.

Shape up!
Shape your nails before soaking your fingertips. “To avoid fraying, never saw!” says Kay. “Always file in one direction and follow the natural shape of the nail.”

Buff stuff
“A gentle buffing once a week encourages nail growth by increasing blood circulation,” says Kay. If done improperly, however, buffing can make nails soft and fragile; don’t overuse the abrasive side of the buffer.

Ritual soak
Kay recommends soaking fingertips in a solution of mild soap and warm water. Soak for three to five minutes.

Hang 10
Use a rubber-tipped orange stick to gently push back the cuticles. Rub in a cuticle balm or cream, and then wipe away the excess skin with a clean towel. Condition the cuticles with oil. “An olive-oil massage works best,” says Kay.

Paint job
To prep nails for polish, remove excess oil with soapy water. “Always use a clear base coat to protect and strengthen,” says Kay. “It also helps the colour adhere better.” Paint in one direction — from the bottom of the nail to the free edge. Start the first stroke in the centre, then move to the sides. Allow several minutes for polish to dry, then add a second coat. A final coat of clear polish seals in colour and guarantees an ultra-shiny finish.