Photo: Arthur Belebeau
Whether you have two months, 30 days, or one week, we'll get you gorgeous in time for your wedding! We recently revealed how to get wedding-ready hair by the time you say "I do", but now we're tackling your bridal manicure. Follow this guide, filled with pro tips, to get the prettiest fingertips by the time you step foot down the aisle.
At 60 Days: Grow Strong Nails
Your engagement-ring selfie was just the beginning. For picture-perfect digits on the big day, try these tips.
Dial up your diet: If you boost key vitamins and minerals at least two months out, you'll see a difference, says Today nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer. Lean protein is crucial, as is iron (found in dried fruit, turkey, and spinach), zinc (nuts, Greek yogurt), and biotin (wheat bran, salmon, avocados).
Take a gel time-out: No question, a gel mani (the shin! the chip resistance!) is a brilliant choice for your wedding. But in the run-up, give your nails a breather. "If gel isn't removed correctly, it can leave ridges that take ages to grow out," says Nadine Abramcyk, of New York's Ten Over Ten salon.
Go easy on the buffing: "You can buff every so often to smooth ridges," says Lisa Logan, nail artist to stars like Beyoncé and Queen Latifah. "But doing it too much can thin nails."
At 30 Days: Find Your Perfect Nude
Bring your makeup bag and add some scotch tape to your next mani. "Grab some nudes that most closely match your foundation," says Gina Carney, founder of nail brand RGB. "Then apply a piece of tape to each nail and paint a different shade on each one." Step outside and view your options in the daylight.
Skip opaque and skew sheer instead: Color isn't the only variable in finding a pretty nude. "An opaque shade is less forgiving, while a semi-opaque glides into the cuticle more softly," says Kandalec.
At 7 Days: Act like a Model
In the home stretch, you have to protect those mitts! Professional hand models tell you how.
Dunk 'em: To deep-clean your nails, Ellen Sirot (a.k.a. the "supermodel of hands") recommends soaking in a 50/50 mix of water and white-wine vinegar for a few minutes. If your nails have yellowed from too much red or dark lacquer, a dip in denture cleaner — no joke! — can lighten the unsightly stains.
Soften up: Sirot suggests exfoliating hands with a DIY scrub of olive oil and sugar (1/4 teaspoon each). Mix together, massage in, and leave on for two minutes. After rinsing, pat dry and apply hand cream to still-damp skin.
Factor in some down time: It can take lacquer 15 minutes to harden into its smudge-proof best, so plan ahead. Get your nails done the day before your wedding, and block out as much drying time as possible. "If there's any way to just sit still, do it. There are a ton of quick-dry products, but the only way to really let polish harden is to take the time," says hand model Ashly Covington. So hands off that phone!