Nailing it

The recession might be in full swing, but there is one area of business that is bucking the trend: take a bow nail bars which - according to retail analysts - account for more than 15 per cent of new shops in the past three years! Many - like my Mother - can't understand why nail bars are booming but time and cash poor 30 somethings such as myself get it: at around £10 - £15, monthly manicures are both quick and blissfully affordable. Furthermore I would go so far as to argue that the obligatory mani/pedi leaves you feeling more groomed than all the other beauty procedures (read masks, scrubs and the sort) put together; it’s almost part of your outfit…

So who does the best mani/pedi? I'm a fan of Divine - a swanky yet super cheap new salon in Northwood Hills. But whichever nail bar you make a beeline for, expect to do nothing save sit back and subject your nails to an MOT.

You’ll be asked to choose your shade of polish and chances are you’ll be dazzled by the display. Divine boasts some great colours and with so many fun options in all hues of the rainbow, the trick lies in choosing from a list a mile long. However, I recommend sticking to the bright shades; in fact the brighter the better.  Not only does a cheerful shade of rouge serve as an instant mood lifter, but it’s a damn sight more practical too. No matter how tempted you are to play it safe with  neutrals, they’re never as good for keeping feet looking clean.

Once you have picked your polish and sunken into your seat, your therapist will begin his/her work. Dead skin scraping, cuticle clearing (don’t panic – it’s all terrific, not terrifying) are the name of the beauty game before polish is applied by therapists with hands so steady as to make Petr Cech look shaky. And in under 30 minutes, you’ll be left with fab not drab hands.

Nail know how

I asked beauty therapist, Jessica Crowe, to share her top five ‘finger tips’ for nail styling at home.

Shape up! When shaping your nails, always file in one direction and follow the natural shape of the nail. And always use a glass or crystal file rather than an emery board.

Buff stuff By buffing your nails, you’re making them smooth so that polish goes on more easily.

Base note Use a base coat to protect nails against staining and to help strengthen nails. Today, there are many different base coats on the market – for example rehydrating base coats; great for nails that peel.

Paint job When painting your nails, paint in one direction – ideally from the bottom of the nail to the top. It’s a good idea to start the first stroke in the middle of the nail and then move to the sides. Wait for the polish to dry before adding a second coat. To make sure that your nail colour doesn’t bubble, shake the bottle upside down before applying the polish.

Monthly maintenance To keep your cuticles in good condition and for generally stronger, healthier looking nails, be sure to book in for a monthly manicure and pedicure at a professional nail salon.

By Kaye Holland