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As college gets closer and closer, I thought now would be a good time to go through what, in my opinion, the average college student needs to have (and keep) great nails during school. If you are a college student, or you have one in your life, you’re definitely going to need to read through this post! (Click any photo to enlarge it throughout this post.)
Must-Have Required Items
Of course, the first item on your list is going to have to be non-acetone nail polish remover, like Beauty Secrets Non Acetone Nail Polish Remover. A big bottle like this seems crazy, but it’ll come in handy throughout the year. Hand in hand with nail polish remover comes the next item on our list, cotton balls or pads. In a pinch, you can use the cotton from a tampon (yes, I have been this desperate!) but just keep a bag of cotton balls around!
I know there are some who prefer to file their nails down and not clip them, but I’m of the “clip then file” camp. My dad always had clippers on him when I was growing up, and so I just have always kept a pair of clippers close by my entire adult life (pockets, purses, makeup case, bathroom cabinet). I literally have a set of nail clippers in each room of my house, and in my car. That way in case you need to clip a hangnail or if (heaven forbid) you have a break, you can trim that up right quick! I have seriously had the same pair of Tweezerman clippers in my stash for at least 5 years – and I don’t buy any other brand. They just last (well, that is if I don’t lose them first!). After I clip, I use my crystal nail file to smooth and shape my nails. I picked up one from a local distributor (Coopers Gotta Have It) and I love the designs they have!
So now we get to painting our nails – YAY! First up, you’ve got to have a good base coat, and since your hands & nails will likely take a beating at college, get a good nail strengthener base coat, like OPI Nail Envy or Barielle Fortifying Nail Strengthener. I like both of these equally! Even if you never paint your nails with a color, my suggestion is to always have at least a good base coat on your nails. It will help keep your nails strong and protected.
In my opinion, at least 4 polishes minimum are required: a neutral, a bright, a dark, and a glitter. The four that I’ve chosen for this post are: OPI Don’t Pretzel My Buttons (neutral), Color Club East Austin (bright), Jessica Blue Aria (dark), and Finger Paints Peacock Portrait (glitter).
For finishing off your manicure, use a fast dry top coat, like Seche Vite (my beautician friend gives this top tip: also buy Seche Restore) or for a great indie version, Digital Nails Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That. I recently discovered this top coat and I already love it. You want to know why? (Of course you do!) I used it for my vacation manicure, and in the six days I had the manicure on, I had very minimal tip wear, no chipping, and still a beautiful shine. You’ll then want to finish off with a great cuticle oil, one of my go-tos is California Mango Magic.
Lastly, an organizer like the Caboodles Nail Valet is a must! You don’t want all your things to go flopping around everywhere and never being able to find what you need when you need it! The nice thing about the Caboodles organizer is that it has a pull-out tray, a nail polish separator, and elastic bands for brushes or files. Plus, this is super stylish, and great to tote over to a girlfriend’s room for a manicure night!
Nice to Have Bonus Items
I really debated about what was a “must have” and what is just “nice to have” items for this post. Assuming that you’ll already have body lotion, a separate hand cream isn’t necessary, but something like Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Hands Stronger Nails will come in very handy. (Heh, see what I did there?) I really like this hand lotion, it’s easy to find, it’s inexpensive, and if you use it before bed, you’ll wake up with soft and soothed hands.
If you really want to get fancy with your manicure, you can always grab Q-Tips Precision Tips or e.l.f. concealer brush for clean-up to get an extra clean manicure. You can also get a dotting tool set or heck, just grab some toothpicks if you want any kind of nail art.
Don’t Forget Those Toes!
In the grand scheme of things, are you really going to have a lot of time to do your fingernails and your toenails? Not likely. But that doesn’t mean you can’t at least keep them neat and trimmed. I would suggest getting a quality pair of toenail clippers (again from Tweezerman), a separate crystal glass file (Coopers Gotta Have It has file packages), and a quality foot file (I use this one available at Sally’s Beauty Supply, it hasn’t worn out yet after a year!). These three items will keep your toes (and feet) in check!
What You Can Create
So what kind of manicures can you create with only 4 polishes? Well, let’s take a look! The only “tool” I’ve used here (besides clean-up brush) is a toothpick for dots.
Let’s start with OPI Don’t Pretzel My Buttons. First, wear it by itself (left); or with Finger Paints Peacock Portraits on top (middle); or use a toothpick and Color Club East Austin for a dotticure. (Click hyperlinks for individual pins on pinterest.)
Now let’s start with Color Club East Austin! First by itself (left); or use it with Finger Paints Peacock Portrait (middle); or use it with Jessica Cosmetics Blue Aria for a distressed manicure (right). A distressed manicure is where you wipe off most of the polish off the brush before applying the brush to your nail. Chalkboard Nails is where I first heard of this technique, and I love it for it’s lazy-but-together flair! (Click hyperlinks for individual pins on pinterest.)
Now let’s start with Jessica Cosmetics Blue Aria as a base (left). You can apply OPI Don’t Pretzel My Buttons on one half (right), and then apply Finger Paints Peacock Portrait on top (middle)! (Click hyperlinks for individual pins on pinterest.)
Let’s do some mix-n-match for these next three manicures, alright? On the left, I’ve used Jessica Cosmetics Blue Aria and Color Club East Austin with a toothpick for a mix-n-match dotticure (you could do the thumb the same as the accent finger). In the middle, I’ve started with a base of OPI Don’t Pretzel My Buttons, did a stripe with Blue Aria, and dotted (with the polish brush) with East Austin. On the right, I started again with a base of Don’t Pretzel My Buttons on my pointer and pinky fingers; I used Blue Aria for a base on my middle and East Austin for a base on my ring finger. I used alternating colors to create a layered distressed manicure. (Click hyperlinks for individual pins on pinterest.)
Phew! I know that was a longer comprehensive post, and thanks for sticking with it to the end! I’d love to know what you, my readers, think are “must-haves” and what are “bonus items” for college students. Am I missing something, or did I add something you would’ve left out? Would you try out any of these manicures? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and please share this post if you’ve found it helpful!