Sunday, 11 March 2012

How to: Manicure clean up!

Let's face it, sometimes your manicure just ends up messy. It could be a bad brush, your hands could be shaky from too much coffee, or you're just tired while doing your nails - it happens.

Fortunately, it's very quick and easy to fix!

What you need:

A bottle of pure acetone, a small dense paint brush, and a cotton pad or paper towel to wipe your brush on.

It's important to note that pure acetone is required here - regular nail polish remover just isn't nearly as effective!

This is a close up of the brush I'm currently using:

It's a small, very stiff angled brush that I picked up for a couple of dollars at an art supply store. The acetone will eventually destroy it, so there's no point in spending more than a dollar or two on your brush. You can see how mine's already started to deteriorate after about a month of use.

For this demo, I picked a nightmare of a polish to clean up: OPI's I'm not really a Waitress, a beautiful, deeply pigmented red with a shiny, almost enamel like finish:

Deeply pigmented reds are the hardest to clean up in my opinion, and you'll see why!

Here I've slapped two extra messy coats of polish on my nails. I'm not usually quite this bad :)

With your brush soaked in acetone, gently sweep away the excess polish. You want to brush all along the areas highlighted here:

It's important that your brush isn't too wet, and that you angle your fingers and brush so that any excess acetone drips onto your skin instead of your nails. Use your brush sort of like a broom, slowly pushing any polish off your cuticles and skin, down onto your finger. Wipe your brush off on your cotton pad occasionally to keep the excess pigments from building up.

I have deeply embedded nails, so I tend to pull down the sides with my thumb and then slide the brush along the edges there. Pardon the leftover glitter - it's from my last mani. Luckily this technique will get rid of it!

This is the result of an initial clean up one of my fingers:

You can see that the red pigment has dissolved in the acetone and run all along my finger. This is what drives me crazy about red! Just keep brushing it away from your nail and onto your skin, then take an acetone soaked cotton pad and wipe away any streaks from your fingers.

After just a few minutes, my fingers looked like this:

So much better! No more flooded cuticles or polish on my skin! There's absolutely zero photoshopping in this picture, other than my watermark. Just a couple of minutes with a small brush and some acetone took my nails from a hot mess to a close to perfect manicure.

This does take some practice - the first few times I tried this, I ended up swiping off way too much polish and had to redo my nails entirely. But it really only took a few tries for me to get it down pat, and my manicures were much nicer because of it!


  1. Wow, that's awesome! Great post :D

  2. Thanks. I have never used brushes. I tend to use my thumb nails on each of the opposite hands (or on my feet). I sometimes need to use a q-tip in acetone. Most of the time, I am not that messy on my fingers/toes - it's the area around my polish bottles that get hit - like the carpet! UGH. I now put a towel down under my feet with a paper towel over that. I have seems a zillion stiff angled brushes so will try this demo you did so well.