From acrylic nails to nail designs, shellac nails to nail art, what are the dos and don’ts for making ring fingers look their best on their big day? We find out
What are the definitive rules for nailing your manicure on your big day? With the guestlist, the wedding dress, your wedding hair and your makeup at the top of your to-do lists, nails can easily become the least of your worries. That being said though, no one wants to be lifting a chipped, red raw finger when it comes to the exchange of rings and giving nails and hands a bit of TLC in the lead up to the occasion is actually refreshingly simpler that most of us think.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect nail polish colour for bride or bridesmaids, or how to make nails look their best, let these top tips from session manicurist and celebrity beauty therapist Jenni Draper act as your go-to guide. Here are the 8 top nail tip-offs that every bride needs to know...
Tip 1: Wedding day prep
Nails will only be as photogenic as the level of groundwork you put in, so keep nails in tip top condition by allowing enough time to right any nail care sins that may have happened while you were single. How long before the big day should you start the prep though and how often should you see a manicurist? “This depends on the state of your own nails,” says Jenni. “If you are a biter, then I would suggest a weekly visit at least 6-8 weeks before. For normal nails that need a tidy up and help with growth, then 1 or 2 manicures before the big day manicure should be enough to keep nails and cuticles in check.”
Tip 2: Lay good foundations
The quality of your wedding day manicure and how long it lasts for are entirely dependent on the condition of your nail beds. If cracked, ridged or dehydrated, chipped nails will be as inevitable on your wedding day as the questionable moves on the dancefloor. Therefore, invest in a good conditioning treatment that you can wear as a base coat or on its own. “Always keep nails protected with a polish or at the very least a nail hardener or strengthener,” recommends Jenni.
So which products really work? “I like Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails , £4.75 for strength and a polish just makes you more aware of them. Always use cuticle oil, 2-3 times a day - massaging it into the cuticle area will promote growth and keep them healthy. CND Solaroil , £11.95 is a favourite of mine.”
“A good hand cream is a must - Sisley Hand Cream , £60.50 is luxury but worth every penny! A great nail strengthener is Mavala Scientifique , £6.25. It really works!” We also love the handbag-friendly Lanolips Rose Balm Intense , £9.50 which provides the perfect antidote for particularly dry hands when on-the-go.
Tip 3: Makeover your French manicure
Is the French manicure out? If you’re looking for an update, Jennie recommends turning it into a delicate nail art design instead. “A polish fade or ombre nail is a good alternative. I have often used a soft pink on the nail and then faded it into a white or even a glitter or metallic at the base of the nail,” she says. It’ll also act as the perfect way to subtly highlight your colour scheme too.
Tip 4: Get a Vinylux fix
“It's fantastic, it dries so quickly and lasts a week on most people if not more,” says Jenni. We can’t get enough of the stuff either . Available as a salon manicure and for individual purchase at select salons nationwide , it offers all the best bits of Shellac but just in a more convenient package. It’s extremely long-lasting but not so much so that you can’t change up the colour should you feel a little antsy after a week, plus it dries in eight and a half minutes too. Bonus.
Tip 5: Manicure maintenance
If you’re short on time, there are a few clever beauty tips and tricks which you can do from the comfort of your own bathroom. For a quick and easy manicure at home, follow Jenni’s foolproof Friday night plan: “Do it all pre and post-bath or shower time. Use a foot file on hard skin before and file nails. Exfoliate the whole body including cuticles and hard skin on the feet, shower off and afterwards push back cuticles gently with a towel. Apply body moisturiser all over hands and feet. Now just wipe over nails with nail polish remover and apply your base coat, polish and top coat.” Beats after-work drinks any day of the week.
Tip 6: Is nail art a no no?
Is it tacky to dip your toe in a spot of nail art on your wedding day? Not necessarily. Just proceed with caution. “For me, everything about a wedding and the photos should be timeless,” says Jenni. “My idea of wedding nails doesn't include palm trees! Having said that, a few well-placed gems or a bit of glitter can look beautiful. If you really can't live without it on your big day then the toes can be a good canvas to showcase something a bit more daring.”
Tip 7: Guidance for gel nails
If you’re looking to put your best foot forward from aisle to honeymoon with acrylic nails, gel nails or Shellac nails, condition is key in ensuring that your nails still remain in the best of knack. “If you can't get great nails from a course of manicures, then these can be a great way to have beautiful nails for your wedding day,” says Jenni, “As long as they are applied and removed correctly by an expert, then they won't damage the nails,” she adds.
“Make sure the nail is well-conditioned by applying a cuticle oil to the base of the nail 2-3 times a day. This will promote healthy new nail growth and never ever let the nail technician near your natural nail with a heavy grit file or e-file!”
For a dose of daily conditioning, apply OPI Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil , £14.30 twice a day to nails. It leaves surrounding skin soft, supple and suitably quenched.
Tip 8: Don’t forget about manis for the bridesmaids
Hell hath no fury like a bridesmaid scorned. So to avoid making an enemy for the rest of your married life, just stick with the classics if you want to stay safe, “It's fun to match the colour scheme, but if you want to keep everyone happy, the a classic French or modern nude is least likely to offend!” suggests Jenni.
If you’re looking though for a modern way to experiment with colour that acts as a compromise, opt for one of the MAC Transformations nail polishes. Created in collaboration with top nail technician and Get The Gloss Expert Marian Newman , each adds a subtle two-tone effect to its base colour, to subtly pick up the accents of your bridesmaids’ dresses. We particular love the Liquid Pigment Top Coat in Pink Pearl , £10 for giving neutral nails a multi-dimensional edge.