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Getting your first bright pink nail polish is practically a rite of passage for young girls in the cosmetics world, and as fashionable kids grow older, it becomes a well-used part of their beauty regime – albeit in slightly different shades. There’s not much to think about with nail polishes when you’re a child, but these days there are so many colours to choose from, not to mention properties that make them last longer, condition nails, resist chipping, the list goes on…

Nail polish essentials

It takes more work than you would think to produce the perfectly polished nail, and usually at least two bottles.

Base polish – In the same way as you would do a base coat for painting a wall or part of a car, you need a base coat when you paint your nails. They are normally clear, and do the job of priming the nail for a layer of polish, and protecting it from any dark colours that might stain it. Clear polish can also be worn on it’s own as a way of making natural nails sparkle.

Coloured polish – This is available in every colour you could possibly imagine. You can buy matte, or glittery, or pearl finish, and even glow-in-the-dark nail polish. Using different colours and effects on your nails is a really fun way of expressing yourself artistically. There are also some varnishes that can condition the nails, help them grow faster, and prevent chipping. Fast drying polish is a very popular choice, who wants to sit around waiting for their nails to dry for hours?

Generally, the coloured coat is followed with another application of clear polish; this will protect the colour and the nail. This is an easy way to prevent fading and chipping – if you can’t afford the top-end ‘miracle’ products that claim to do that without help.

If you have a very physical job where you work with your hands all day, there’s no reason why you still can’t have pristine nails. Breaking and chipping can be avoided with strengthening polish; they contain conditioning chemicals and vitamins to make the nails stronger, and in some cases can deal with other problems such as peeling, ridges, and brittle nails.

For the biters, there is a polish on the market that can help you too. By coating the nails with a bitter tasting varnish, it will hopefully put you off chewing them.

Choosing a nail polish colour

With so many different tints and shades on the market, it’s hard to pick one from the multitude, but it’s not as perilous as some other cosmetic products, it’s far less embarrassing to chose an ill-matched nail varnish than it is a foundation or eyeshadow. With that in mind, selecting a nail polish can be a fun process, where you can mix and match different shades or really glam it up with glittery, shimmering colours. Testing varnish can be entertaining too; you’ve basically got ten fingers to try, so knock yourself out!

Match Nail Polish with Skin Tones

Pale skin – As with shades of eyeshadow and lipstick, those with paler skin tones should opt for a lighter colour of nail polish. Although, fun, flirty berry colours, like bright reds and pearly pinks will also compliment a fair complexion.

Medium skin – What is medium skin? Well it’s more or less the one in between light and dark, so it’s a big category to narrow down to one palate. Generally speaking, any nail polish colour will work with a medium skin tone; try out metallic shades or bright, neon polishes to inject a little colour into your fingertips.

Dark skin – Deep plums and violets work really well with darker skinned people. A nice chocolaty brown or red wine colour nail polish would also look great.

If you really are blind to which colours match which outfit, you can always let nature dictate which shade you should choose. The seasons offer a useful palate to match your nail polish with. Winter colours are dark blues, reds and purples, whereas summer should be lighter pinks and pastel tints.

Applying nail polish

Painting your nails can be tricky, if you don’t have a steady hand or you’ve just never done it before, you might end up in a mess – keep the nail polish remover nearby, just in case. Always start off with a base coat, it’s important to protect your nails and it will make the coloured coat last longer. Here are a few pointers to perfect your technique:

1.Paint the varnish on in three even strokes, starting with a thick one down the middle of the nail, then a thinner one down each side of it.

2.Don’t apply nail polish all the way up to the cuticle, it will look clumpy and messy, and it will take longer to dry.

3.Resist the urge to touch them to see if they’re dry, you will inevitably try too early and make a mess of your nails.

4.If it’s a thin colour, paint another coat over the top, using the same three-stroke method.

5.Apply a topcoat to seal the polish and protect against chips.

For your toenails, use a separator or some cotton wool to keep the toes apart and prevent smudging. Lastly, don’t leave polish on for weeks on end, nails need to be allowed to breath, otherwise they can become brittle and discoloured.