Q: How can I copy a professional manicure look at home?

A: Until our health-care plans cover manis and pedis, many of us have to choose between trips to the salon and the newest, hottest shoes — and it’s hard to make your own shoes! So I went to Carolyn Cianciotto of nail care line Carolyn New York for advice on making your at-home manicure look like it was done by a pro. She says:

“Keep it simple! Don’t try to do all that a professional does. File straight across and gently buff to remove any residue wash and polish. Apply two thin coats of polish. After nails are almost dry, apply Carolyn New York Miracle Oil to your cuticles. Let the oil soak in and you will look as though you just came from the salon.”

Q: When choosing a nail salon, what are some of the things you should be looking out for to ensure that it’s clean and safe?

A: We go for manicures and pedicures to be pampered, not to pick up a nasty infection! So I asked Carolyn for advice on how to find a good salon.

First of all, she says, “The Nail Tech must be organized. They should have everything they need available and not be getting up every minute to grab miscellaneous intruments.” In addition, you should pay attention to your surroundings: “The client should see with their own eyes that all instruments have been cleaned and disinfected. The client has the right to request new files,” she adds. “And most of all, the salon should appear clean — because what you see is what you get.”

Q: What are the trends in nail colour for fall/winter 2006?

A: Carolyn gives the following short-but-sweet answer:

“Purple, brown, bronze and a big yes to RED!”