Wednesday

French Manicures

Mention the words "French Manicure" around nearly any woman, and you'll immediately see their face light up like a kid on Christmas morning. This is because many women regularly indulge themselves in this classic beauty routine, whether they go out to a salon or do it themselves at home. It has become known as a common form of manicure in the United States, as it most resembles a "natural" look for fingernails. It's very universal in that the look is ideal for day-to-day life, weddings, proms, special events, or nights out on the town.

The history of the French Manicure is thought to go back to the mid 1970's when a man named Jeff Pink, president of the popular manicure company Orly, attended a fashion show where he noticed several of the models were using a white pencil to whiten the tips of their fingernails. He immediately realized this could be major fashion trend and brainstormed a way to recreate the look. The result was a kit that contained two shades of polish; a light pink base and white polish to paint the tips of the fingernails. He also included adhesive strips to place at the baseline of the nail so that women could effortlessly create a stunning, perfect look when applying the white paint.

French manicures are still sold in this form today, but have varied slightly since their beginning. Today you can choose from a classic light pink shade, a nude base, or you could even choose a pearl-based shade to add a bit of glamour to this classic manicure. Several kits contain jewels or other accents to add to your newly manicured nails if you are looking to "kick it up" a notch or two. Of course these kits are meant to be applied at home, but if you'd rather head to a salon, you'll find French Manicures to be a popular choice among salon clients.

Sometimes nail technicians at salons will use acrylic tips when providing a French Manicure. This is usually done when the actual nails are not long enough to get the stunning white tip look. The technician will place long tips on your fingernails, cut them down to your requested size, and sand them down so that tip blends with your actual nail. They will then apply an acrylic foundation that hardens your nails to make it smooth and even, then proceed with the French Manicure techniques. After painting your nails with a base shade, the technician will then add the white paint to your faux tips and finish them off with a drying spray.

For a French Manicure without acrylic tips, prices usually range from $10-$15. You can expect to pay around $30 at a salon for a French Manicure using the tips. The kits to do it yourself at home are sold at any drug or department store for around $8. If you decide to go to a salon, you can rest assured that nearly any nail salon will be trained in the French Manicure application.

Popular French Manicure (DESIGNS)

French manicures are a popular trend among women in America today. And for very good reason - the French manicure is very universal, and is just as appropriate for jeans and t-shirts as it is a wedding or prom dress. The classic French manicure has a light pink or nude base coat, with the tips of the fingernails painted bright white. Nearly every nail salon in America is familiar with this manicure and provides them to clients on a daily basis. But sometimes women like to add a bit of glamour to the French manicure, and this is easily accomplished by incorporating designs to their nails.

French manicure designs are normally done in nail salons. This is because salons carry all the equipment (and talent) to create some amazing designs. A popular method of applying a French manicure is through an airbrush machine, which gives the nails a smooth, even line when painting the tips white. Often manicurists will use the airbrush machine to create stunning designs. For example, instead of airbrushing a classic white line on the tips, you can use a stencil to create upward points (resembling triangles). This gives you the classic look of a French manicure while providing a special and unique touch. If you prefer to add color to your French manicure, you could have the manicurist draw or airbrush a small design on your fingernail. Popular designs include symbolic holiday designs, such as Christmas trees for the winter, pumpkins for the fall, or hearts for Valentine's Day. Other designs frequently used for French manicures are flowers, palm trees, or letter initials.

Other designs popular among French manicures include the application of tiny gems or stones. These add a small touch of "sparkle" to your manicure. The stones can be applied singly or with a painted design to complete your desired look. The manicurist applies them using small tweezers and a bit of nail glue, then coats them using a clear top coat. This helps to seal the stones and prevent them from chipping off. You can choose to add these to one fingernail on each hand, or apply them to all ten nails for extra special glamour.

Another popular design used on the French manicure is known as "nail tattoos." These are transfers rubbed onto your nail directly from printed paper. They are very similar to the application of faux tattoos, and are then covered with a top coat to help maintain longevity. These come in a wide variety of designs, and the salon should be able to provide you with a selection of available nail tattoos.

Finally, for those looking for a more extreme approach to nail designs, a popular trend called nail piercing is now available at several nail salons. Nail piercing is usually done on acrylic nails rather than actual nails. This is because once a real fingernail is pierced, it is nearly impossible to repair the nail later without having to cut it down. Using a small ear piercing gun, the manicurist pierces the nail with a tiny earring. These are usually studs or small gems. This procedure costs about $10 extra to your manicure.

With so many options available for French manicure designs, women now have the ability to customize their manicure and go beyond the classic look. Ask your manicurist for ideas on different nail designs.

The Lurking Dangers of Manicures and Pedicures

Manicures and pedicures have become a common luxury among Americans. Not just for women either; it isn't surprising to see a male having his feet pampered at the local nail salon. It's a treat available even to those on a budget, as it's easy to create your own makeshift spa in the comfort of your own home and create amazing manicures and pedicures. However, if you plan to head out to your favorite salon or spa for your next manicure and pedicure, there are a few things you should be aware of before dipping your feet into the pedicure whirlpool.

First and foremost, it's a fact that not all nail salons and spas are created equal. They may look the same on the inside or outside, have employees with the same salary, and charge the same prices, but there are major differences. Think of the restaurants in your town - at least one of them probably has (or has had) a failing health inspection score that you're blissfully unaware of as you scarf down that plate of spaghetti you've eaten many times before. Well, the same holds true with nails salons and spas. You won't catch salmonella or see a health inspection score posted when you walk in, but there are standards that these places must hold up in order to safely serve their clients.

When going to a salon for a manicure or pedicure, be observant of the staff and your surroundings. After the completion of a pedicure, make sure the foot bath was drained and thoroughly cleaned using an anti-bacterial solution. Watch the employee to ensure that the bath was not just effortlessly wiped down, but scrubbed with a brush and cleaner. As luxurious and comforting as those warm foot baths may seem, they are an ideal residence for many types of bacteria when not cleaned properly. Not only do these footbaths harbor such infectious bacteria, but they also contain hair and skin pieces from previous clients. One reputable salon in California was shut down when women began experiencing large, painful boils on their legs after receiving a pedicure. This was found to be due to improper sanitation of the footbaths. With manicures, the instruments used (tweezers, nail files, cuticle sticks, etc.) should be soaked in a sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs from one client to the next. If a client is nicked during a manicure, it provides an entry for harmful bacteria and can be very dangerous if the salon fails to properly sanitize their equipment.

In addition to thoroughly cleaning their tools, manicurists should also ensure their workstation is properly cleaned between clients. This means that clean paper towels and a cleaning solution (such as Lysol or Clorox) should be used to wipe down the work area to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Before you go get your next manicure or pedicure, there are some tips to follow to protect yourself. Ask around about the salon or spa you plan to visit and see if there any complaints about the service. Once you're there, ask to see the manicurist's license and look for disinfectant containers - be sure the solution is fresh and not old. It's perfectly acceptable to bring your own manicure tools, just to stay on the safe side.

One Minute (MANICURE)

Is it really possible to get a one minute manicure?  The answer, surprisingly, is yes. I too was a skeptic until I tried a few of the products out there that promise a one minute manicure.  These products are aimed at the target market of busy women.  Well, these days, what woman isn't busy? The suppliers of beauty products know that the busy woman is a huge target audience.  What with careers, family, and fitness, who has time to keep those hands looking gorgeous?

Well, thanks to these new at home products on the market, we all have time to pamper our digits.  There are many products ranging in price from a few dollars to well over thirty dollars. They vary in scents, as well. You can find anything from sea salt to cucumber and melon.  You can purchase these products just about anywhere.  You can check department stores, drug stores, and lastly don't forget about the internet.  You can buy that one minute manicure product without leaving the comfort of your bedroom.  There are even huge retail chains devoted to helping us to keep our hands and bodies looking their best.  Most of these stores offer their own variation on the one minute manicure.

But do you really get a manicure in one minute?  Well, not really.  Minus the polish and the salon, the results are similar to a professional manicure.  I have tried Sally Hansen one minute manicure and pedicure products.  They are available at a wide variety of stores from drug stores, to discount stores, and even the local grocery stores.  Basically, you just rub this product, which is an exfoliating scrub, onto your hands. The tube says that you can either start with dry or wet hands. I have found that if you start the process without water, the treatment will result in a deeper exfoliation.  For the few dollars that I spent on the product, I would say that the results were satisfactory. I would not compare this to an actual salon manicure, but, if you are looking for a quick fix, it works nicely.

Another product that I have tried is by Beauty Control.  Now, I don't know too much about Beauty Control, I think that you have to buy the products through a representative, similar to Avon.  I have to tell you that I was thoroughly impressed with the product.  The "manicure" consisted of two steps.  The first step was similar to the Sally Hansen product, in that it was an exfoliator; however, it also had some essential oils in it.  The oils left my hands feeling smooth, but not greasy.  The next step in the one minute manicure is to put on a lotion.  I was amazed.  In just a couple of minutes, my hands felt like I had just had a salon manicure.  My hands continued to feel great for the rest of the day.  Even after washing my hands several times, they still felt great. Unfortunately for me, however, they don't offer a one minute polish.

Manicure Sets- Why they are Handy

Manicure Sets can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.  You can purchase a basic manicure set at the drug store or your local discount store.  A basic manicure set will probably consist of a nail file, tweezers, nail clippers, fingernail scissors and a cuticle pusher.  I remember the kind that my grandmother used to have.  It was a leather case and each item had its own little elastic compartment that held it in place.  The case could be closed with a zipper.  She always had it handy in case of an emergency hang nail or broken fingernail.  It was basic, and absent of any frills, but in a pinch it did the trick.  

Well, nowadays the manicure kits can be a lot more complicated than that. Mine for example is probably the most elaborate of its types.  I use a small silver train case as my manicure kit. I have all of the basics mentioned above, except a cuticle pusher.  I never much enjoyed that part of an at home manicure anyway.  I did replace the cuticle pusher with an orange stick which accomplishes the same basic thing.  I also have some cotton, fingernail polish remover (I have both the bottle and the jar that you stick your fingers into), sticky tapes for fool proof at home French manicures, tons of different polishes, and of course one of those cute little toe separator thingies.  Mine is hot pink and has palm trees on the end.  This is a manicure kit that would make my Grandma proud.

In addition to the old fashioned manicure sets you can purchase all kinds of kits at all different kinds of stores.  Some kits will have cute little carrying cases like mine (well not as cute as mine, but cute nonetheless). There are kits aimed at the target market of teenagers and small children.  You can even purchase a manicure kit with Dora the Explorer on it.   There are also more sophisticated kits that cater to an older more sophisticated target market.  These can be compact for the frequent traveler or huge and strictly home bound like mine.

If in doubt, you can purchase one of these preassembled kits and then gradually add to it.  You can get all of the basics in the beginning, and add new pieces as you need them.  After all, who doesn't need one of those cute little toe separator thingies.

It is a good idea to go through your manicure set periodically and purge any old and outdated manicure supplies.  You should replace the orange sticks and emery boards pretty regularly in order to avoid spreading fungus and bacteria that live under our nails. In addition, you should throw out polishes after about a year.  I am guilty of adding fingernail polish remover to that last favorite bottle of discontinued perfect red.  You know this particular beauty sin; the polish is real thick so you thin it out using remover.  Well stop doing it, its ridiculous. Buy a new color already!

Men's Manicures in Phoenix

The process of getting a manicure is something that is frequently done by women. Women of all different types get manicures.   Whether they are professional women who get regular manicures, or perhaps teenage girls who get manicures for special occasions, it is not uncommon for you to hear about a woman getting a manicure.

Surprisingly, the same is becoming true of men.  What was once considered to only be for women is now becoming a little more gender neutral.  I am not trying to say that you will walk into a nail salon in Phoenix and see more men than women in there receiving a manicure, but I am saying that it would not be uncommon to see one man in the nail salon.

More and more men are receiving manicures.  I wouldn't argue that is becoming mainstream, by any means.  However, men in professional positions like management for example have been known to get a manicure on occasion.  I think it is a sign of strength to seen a man with nicely groomed hands.  I am not arguing that it would be nice for men to have pretty pink polish like we women, but it wouldn't be so bad to have those jagged edges smoothed out once in a while.  It would also be nice to have those dry hands be a little smoother and less cracked.  It could only add to the value of a good strong hand shake, if that hand shake was given by a smooth hand.  

I think that men in Phoenix are more likely to give themselves an at home manicure than they would be to go to an actual salon and receive a professional manicure.  It's sometimes easier for a man to pamper himself in the privacy of his own home than in a public salon, especially one that is filled with a bunch of women.  Some men probably even solicit the help of their wives or girlfriends in getting an at home manicure.  I think that could make for a nice romantic date night.  You could have dinner, a bottle of wine and an at home manicure for two.  It's probably a good idea to skip the candlelight; however, you wouldn't want to risk cutting your partner's finger in the dark.

That being said, I don't actually think that men in Phoenix are really more likely to get manicures than men in any other city.  Perhaps if some of the stigma were removed from this traditionally female ritual, more men would be likely to receive manicures.  Maybe someone should open a nail salon that would cater specifically to men. Instead of serving wine and water to its clientele, they could serve beer and pretzels.  Instead of playing soothing spa music, they could have multiple televisions showing a variety of different sporting events.  Perhaps another good idea would be to have a salon service, where the manicurist would come to the men.  They could have a professional manicure in the privacy of their own home.

(INEXPENSIVE) Manicure Sets

With the hustle and bustle of today's crazy lifestyle, it isn't always possible to make it to the nail salon or spa to have our nails done professionally. Sometimes we find ourselves primping our nails on the go, like when we're driving to that all-important business meeting or flying out to the annual family reunion. While you certainly shouldn't attempt to give yourself a manicure while battling four lanes of 80 mph traffic, you can give yourself a great manicure if you know how and where to find good manicure sets.

Ever notice how the tools and equipment at professional nail salons look so expensive and hard to get? The truth is they really aren't hard to come by and don't cost a fortune. (In fact, you will find that the expense of your professional tools pays for itself when you add up all the visits to have your nails done at a salon!)  If you're looking to purchase manicure tools and sets that will last for years to come, then scout out where the beauty retail stores are in your area. These can easily be located through a search on the internet or by simply thumbing through your yellow pages. Beauty retailers will typically have the words "professional beauty supply" or something similar in their title. These are the places that sell the exact same tools and equipment to salons and spas, and while you may pay a little more money to shop here, the quality of the product is superior. These stores sell complete manicure sets, or you can choose to customize your needs by purchasing individual tools. If you're really looking for top-notch tools and equipment, they sell the fancy airbrush machines and electric nail buffers, too.

Don't forget to pick out your favorite color of polish while you're there - the brands of nail polish available at these stores are high quality and won't chip as fast as that bottle purchased from the department store.

If by chance you aren't able to locate a professional beauty retailer, then purchasing your manicure set from a department store is perfectly acceptable if you know what to look for. You'll find a wide variety of manicure sets ranging in prices from a couple bucks all the way $20 and over. If you're looking for something to just keep stashed away in your purse or car, then go for the lower-priced sets. You'll normally get a small set of nail clippers, nail scissors, a small file, and a cuticle stick. These are great for taking care of those annoying hangnails or filing down a broken nail at the office. If you plan to do your own manicures at home on a regular basis, then consider purchasing a manicure set that's a little more expensive. You'll get all the tools found in the cheaper kits, plus a few extras such as nail polish, cuticle and hand cream, and nail designs.

Finding a good manicure set is easy and with proper care, can last for years. Imagine all of the time and money you'll save by doing manicures yourself!

Men and Manicures - Not Just for Women Anymore!

When passing by a nail salon, typically all you see are women at first glance. You'll see them having their nails painted or soaking their feet in the amazing relaxation of a footbath. But sometimes if you take a second look, you'll see a man in the middle of all the estrogen. And no, he isn't there waiting on his wife to get her manicure. He's getting a manicure himself!

It's not totally uncommon anymore to see this type of thing at nail salons and spas. And contrary to popular belief, it usually has nothing to do with the man's sexual preference. Although it's not yet something every woman is accustomed to seeing, it certainly doesn't make the man any "less of a man". If women have the privilege of getting pampered through a manicure, why can't a man have the same right of passage without being labeled or laughed at? Granted, a man having his nails painted pink might just send out a snicker or two, but this usually isn't the case when men get professional manicures. In fact, it isn't uncommon for men not to have the actual manicure as a top priority when visiting a nail salon.

If you were to ask any random guy if he would ever get a manicure, a good majority of them would probably say no. Why would they risk that type of judgement? But in the back of their mind, they're thinking, "sure, why not?" Some men will even admit to having a manicure with no shame. Unlike women, they don't visit their nail salon to have a French manicure or leave sporting the latest shade of ruby red. They are there to relax, unwind, and perhaps even to impress a lady for occasions like date nights or weddings. Everyone knows that getting a professional manicure is fun and enjoyable. You get to sit in a big chair that massages your back, sip on bottled water or tea, and enjoy the temporary escape from the world by having your hands and arms massaged with aromatherapy oil. Some nail salons even let you watch TV as you get pampered. And although the home should be a haven, you can't get this kid of star treatment when you've got kids and laundry piled up on the floor. It's the perfect mini-getaway for males and females alike!

A typical manicure for a man includes all the pampering the ladies receive, minus the nail painting and acrylic tips. Men are usually given a thorough inspection to remove any hangnails and calluses, followed by their nails being filed down and buffed to add a natural shine. Pedicures are usually performed in the same manner, as men enjoy the deep relaxation a foot massage provides. This is the real treat behind their visit to a once all-women escape place. There's nothing wrong with this type of pampering, regardless if you're male or female! Men experience stress just the same as women, and everyone has a desire to look and feel their best. What better way to fulfill these needs?

Manicure Implements

There are many tools needed to give a manicure.  Whether doing an at home manicure or actually being a manicurist, the supplies can be as endless as you want them to be.  If you are to be an actual manicurist, the first thing you need is some training and a license.  Thankfully, this type of skill does require licensing.  It is a huge relief to know that the girl scraping that razor blade over my foot is actually certified and licensed for doing so.

I am amazed at how many people actually get regular manicures and pedicures.  It can be a treat, I must admit. However, unfortunately it is one of those things that rarely make it onto my calendar.

When going to the nail salon, I noticed, how many supplies were actually necessary.  They had several pedicure stations. These were nice leather massage chairs.  They had tiny little Jacuzzi tubs in the bottom of each chair.  These were for feet soaking, and felt great.  The manicurist had a little stool at the end of the pedicure station.  In between each of the pedicure chairs was a little storage bin.  These bins held everything from polish to razor blades.  The manicurist needed cotton and some sort of acetone to take off my old polish.  She needed scissors and clippers for trimming my fingernails and toenails.  She also had a huge variety of buffers and shapers, scrubbers and boards.  All of these tools seemed confusing to me, but I think that she used every tool in that bin on my feet.  After a thorough cleaning and shaping, she applied lotion to my legs and massaged my feet.  It felt great and was much needed.

Now it was time for the polish.  The salon had those little foam things that they stick in between your toes to keep them separated while painting.  They also had these cute little disposable flip flops for me to wear home.  This way my toes could dry and I wouldn't have to worry about smudging the polish when I put my shoes on.  After my toes were polished, I was taken to another station entirely for the manicure.

At this station there was this funny little dryer thing for me to rest my feet on.  This was also supposed to help in the drying process and prevent smudging.  At the nail station there were even more tools than at the pedicures station.  The process was basically the same.  First I had to soak my hands.  The purpose of this is to soften the cuticles to make it easier to trim them.  If was kind of awkward though.  Every time I put one hand in, she would take the other hand and either trim or shape my nail.  Then she would put that hand back in the water and take my other hand.  Half the time, I had no idea what to do with what hand and my arms were overlapping each other all over the place. Anyway, I was surprised at just exactly how many supplies and tools were used during the manicure process.

Manicure Warmers- Why They are Handy

Why would you need a warmer in order to give a manicure? Well, that's a very good question.  The warmer isn't really for the manicure, and it's not really used in an everyday basic manicure.  A manicure warmer is saved for the purpose of giving a very special type of manicure.  This special type of manicure is a spa manicure.  A spa manicure, is a little pricier than its basic counterpart, but it is worth the splurge every once in a while.

The manicure warmer is actually used to warm wax used to give a spa manicure.  The warmer will heat and melt a paraffin wax.  The wax is then smothered onto the hands of the lucky recipient.  The wax acts as a moisturizer.  It replaces essential oils and moisture that we loose through every day life, especially through hand washing.  The wax will help to smooth rough hands and temporarily reduce fine lines leaving hands looking younger and softer. With regular spa manicures hands will continue to look younger, due to the softening of the skin.

Once the wax has been applied the client is left to relax and wait for the wax to harden.  The wax doesn't actually harden into a complete solid form.  It's not like the wax will be as hard as a crayon or a candle. It's also a very thin layer of wax, so it will come off with a gentle rubbing motion.  Once the wax has been heated and applied the manicure warmer is no longer needed.  There are many different types of manicure warmers.  Some warmers come with disposable cups that allow for ease of clean up, while others have to be emptied and cleaned daily.  For anyone who has ever had to clean up dried candle wax, you know that this can be an unpleasant task to say the least.

Some manicure warmers also can be used for other beauty shop purposes.  For example, some salons may use their manicure warmer to warm the wax used for waxing procedures, like leg and eyebrow waxing. These waxes are usually stickier and heated to a higher temperature than the wax used for a spa manicure or pedicure.  

These manicure warmers can be used to give spa pedicures as well as manicures.  Why should hands have all of the fun?  A spa pedicure can be a great treat for dry and rough or cracked feet.  I know that I treated myself to a spa pedicure after I ran the marathon, and it was just what the doctor should have ordered.  My feet felt rested, refreshed and most importantly moisturized. It is important for distance runners to take good care of their feet.  I have seen some pretty ugly toes after marathon training.  I wouldn't say that I get regular pedicures, but the few that I have gotten have helped to keep my toes looking good.

So that being said, I am thankful for the invention of manicure warmers.  Without them, we wouldn't have the greatest hand pampering known as the spa manicure.

Images and the manicure

Why go through all of the trouble of getting a manicure you may ask.  Well manicures are one of women's many secret weapons.  One of my friends says that she gets manicures because they are cheaper than therapy. A manicure can be a nice quick pick me up when I am feeling blue.  They also instantly make me feel prettier (or at least a little fancier).  There are pictures everywhere of women with perfectly manicured fingers.

You can't open a magazine or turn on the television without seeing a set of perfectly manicured digits these days.  Maybe it's the ease of which we can now get manicures.  There are nail salons popping up everywhere.   They are so competitive that some salons offer a first time free manicure, while others have half price days.

You see pictures of different types of manicures in magazines and catalogs.  Lately, I have seen a lot of different images put on the tops of people's nails and toenails. The last time I got a pedicure, the manicurist asked me if I wanted a picture of a flower on my big toe for a special occasion.  I thought about it for a minute before answering no. I guess it would have been cool to have a picture of a butterfly or a flower on my toe, but in the end I decided that this must be her way of getting me to spend more money.  After all, I'm not the trendiest person in the world and I'm not exactly a teenager either, so I would have probably looked ridiculous with a picture on my nail or toenail.  That being said, I think that pictures or images have their place in the manicure world.  I've seen a lot of other people with these images, and it looks great on them.

Every time I open a magazine I see a picture or an ad for a new type of polish.  Some polishes promise to be chip proof, while others advertise long lasting shine.  I even saw a picture of a dog with its nails polished.  I though it was pretty cute, as a dog lover myself.  The product they were advertising was called dog pawlish. Get it? Like, polish for the paws.  Anyway, I thought it was really cute and would have bought some, but my dog is a boy.  Dogs aside, manicures are important to all women at some point and time in their lives, even if they won't admit it.  

One time when every woman considers a manicure to be of the utmost importance is when she first receives an engagement ring.  I remember getting more manicures that first month, of being an engaged woman, than I did in the past year.  It's always fun to have freshly painted nails when you are going to be heavily photographed.  Manicure and pedicure parties are becoming a staple of all bridal parties.  Even if you aren't the bride everyone wants to compare rings with the other married women, so it's a good idea to have those digits polished.