Here's Why You Need to Try a "Nail Cleanse"

Bare nails

Arthur Belebeau / Trunk Archive

Similar to the way that giving up certain foods and "eating clean" can help detox your body, taking a break from polish can have a similar healthy effect on your nails. Especially when you're prepping for a wedding. "Taking a two- to four-week nail cleanse before your big day is ideal," says New York manicurist Jin Soon Choi. "Your nails will grow and rejuvenate more efficiently. Polish also lasts longer when your nails are healthy." So put down the varnish and opt for polish-free manicures from this moment forward. You'll be thanking us when you're sporting long, healthy nails on your big day.

Meet the Expert

Jin Soon Choi is one of the most influential nail artists in the beauty industry having built her reputation and brand since the early '90s. She is the owner of several locations of the Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa, and creator of her very own eponymous brand of nail polishes.

Alas, bare nails aren't nearly as effortless as one would think, you've got to maintain! If you don't want to shell out the time or money to go to the salon, here are Choi's recommended steps for getting the perfect no-polish manicure. If you're a usual at the local nail salon, you're probably already familiar with this circuit.

1. File Your Nails

Choi uses her Diamond Nail File, but any will do. If you choose a file with a slightly coarse texture, file in one direction since the rough grit can damage your nails, she says. If you use a file with a fine grit, it's okay to file back and forth in both directions.

2. Apply Cuticle Oil

Choi recommends using one that's enriched with vitamins and rubbing it into both the cuticles and nail beds. Try Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil.

3. Soak

Place your fingers in a bowl of warm whole milk (full-fat milk is the most moisturizing, she says) for three to five minutes. For even better results, add a few drops of nourishing vitamin E oil in the mix. Consider treating your nails, cuticles, and nail beds the same way that you would your face, hair (nails and hair are both made up of keratin), or body—with tons of restorative and enriching hydration.

4. Push Back Cuticles

Apply another helping of cuticle oil, then gently push them back with a tool like Tweezerman's Cuticle Pusher and Nail Cleaner. (It's Choi's fave!)

5. Clean

Saturate a cotton ball in non-acetone nail polish remover and use it to remove any remaining oil and grease from your nails.

6. Buff

To get that shiny top-coat-like look, take a two-way buffer—they're gentler, so you won't harm the nail bed—and softly rub the coarse side against your nails to even out the surface, then flip it over to the smooth side for that reflective finish. Choi likes Revlon's Crazy Shine Nail Buffer.

7. Moisturize

Finish with a generous dollop of your favorite hand cream. We love Avène Cicalfate Restorative Hand Cream.

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