Beauty & Style

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Best Home Manicure Kit

Sometimes we just can’t get to the salon. Sometimes we need to polish those nails ourselves. (Imagine that!)  How? For those who didn’t perfect the art during all those teenage slumber parties, local pros suggest the must-have home tools to help nail the perfect manicure.


Photo by John O'Donnell

Fingernails grow about .02 inches a week, or nine inches a year: Nine Inch Nails, indeed! They also split and peel and crack. That’s where your nail file comes in. You want one to gently pare the nail down while shaping it. Oddly, the hardest material—diamond—turns out to be the gentlest on nails, proving once again that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Lorraine Frustace, owner of Shine Salon and Spa in Ossining, swears by the Diamencel file: “It doesn’t split or crack nails like inexpensive emery boards can, and it lasts forever.” Diamancel File $60; available at Shine Salon or through

First things first: you have to take off the old polish. It’s important to use real cotton balls instead of the synthetic “cosmetic puffs,” which don’t absorb the remover. Sadly for the environmentally conscious, polish remover has to contain acetone to dissolve the old polish; otherwise, fuggedaboutit. Frustace of Shine Salon likes the Spa Ritual Fluent Conditioning Lacquer Remover because, in addition to acetone, it contains essential oils to counteract acetone’s drying effect.
Spa Ritual Fluent Conditioning Lacquer Remover $8 for 4 oz; available at Shine Salon or through


“You run the risk of splitting
your nails right down to the quick if you use clippers,” Frustace says. “You should only use a file to shape your nails.” But for hangnails and messy cuticles, she recommends high-quality nippers. “Good nail tools are to a manicurist what good knives are to a chef, so it’s worth
it to invest in professional-grade cuticle nippers,” Frustace advises, “and hands-down, Mehaz are the best.” They’re pricey, but have a lifetime guarantee and offer free sharpening. Mehaz Cuticle Nippers $50; available at Shine or through

Whether you decide to polish your nails or go au natural, your final step in a home manicure is to buff your nails. “A buffing block is something that no manicure kit can go without,” says Angela DeAngellis, who owns Angelface Day Spa in Yorktown Heights. “It smoothes out ridges in nails, then buffs them to a natural shine for those who prefer not to wear polish.” Buffing Block $5 at Angelface Day Spa; $8 at Shine
Quick Paint Job
We didn’t hear about this from the pros, but when our senior creative director showed us how easy this absolutely mistake-proof nail-polish pen was to use for a quick gloss of color, we became instant fans. Sally Hansen Color Quick Pen $5; available at most major retailers.

Pretty in Pink

Finally—environmentally conscious cosmetics! The Protected Paradise Eyes and Face compacts are as pretty as they can be, but carry one heavy message: as you sweep the pouf over the sweet little fishies swimming through sea grass, you’re to consider over-fished and endangered sea creatures and habitats. Five percent of
proceeds from sales will be donated to the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.

Chantecaile Compacts  $90 each
SpaceNK, 24 Harwood Ct, Scarsdale, (914) 472-1214,



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