Chances are you’ve probably spent ages considering your wedding day hair and makeup and might have even booked a treatment or two in ahead of the big day, but have you thought about your nails? We’re not talking the colour you’re going to paint them (although we will get onto that), we mean taking care of the nails themselves.
From cuticle care to nail growth and moisturising, there are plenty of steps to ensuring your hands and nails are w-day ready. While it may all seem like a lot of extra effort that you just don’t have time for in the build-up to your wedding (honestly, we hear you), it’ll be worth adding these steps to your routine when it comes to showing off your brand-new bling. Everyone from your colleagues to your great aunt will be asking to check out your wedding band and great nails will set it off perfectly.
The good news is that while you’re investing time in your nail care, you won’t need to invest a lot of funds – great news for the wedding budget, leaving you more funds to spend on, say, a make-up artist or a skin-plumping facial! Most nail care items are inexpensive and the rest is mostly changing your habits to better protect your talons.
If you’re looking to indulge a little more or simply fancy a pamper, you can always head to your local beauty salon for treatments, too. In salon indulgences include paraffin wax treatments to soften skin, hot mitts and expert manicuring, all of which can help to give neglected digits a boost. You can always make a nail salon visit part of your hen do or bridal shower, to turn it into a group pamper session with your bridesmaids or your mum.
To get started on the road to wedding day nail glory, scroll through our fool proof guide below. Trust us, you’ll totally nail it.
Nail care guide
Keep your hands clean
Before you can get started on your nail care routine, you need to make sure your hands and nails are squeaky clean. Remove all traces of old nail colour with a non-drying, acetone-free remover and use a nail brush to gently scrub up those fingers.
Be gentle with your nails
Your nails are actually pretty delicate and it’s time to start treating them that way. If you often use metal implements to scrape out dirt or push cuticles, stop! You could damage the skin around the nails or even lift the nail from the nail-bed – ouch! Don’t even get us started on using your nails to scratch and chip at things…
Trim your nails regularly
While long nails may be in, it’s best to keep them at a reasonable length as shorter nails are less prone to snaps and breaks. How often you trim depends entirely on your nail growth rate, so start with a bi-weekly trim and adjust to suit you.
Carry a nail file
Buy a multipack of nail files and keep one in each of your bags so you’re never caught without one. Having a file on-hand can mean the difference between a small snap and a jagged nail disaster. If you’re looking to reduce the overall length of a nail, always trim it and then shape with a file, never saw down a nail with a file as it will result in frayed edges and a weak nail.
Leave cuticles to the professionals
Your cuticles seal the base of the nail and so, while it may be tempting, it’s best to leave them exactly where they are. There are occasions when cuticles could benefit from some TLC, but we think this is definitely a job for the professionals, so book into your local salon. One thing you can do for your cuticles yourself is rub on some cuticle oil a couple of times a week for a moisturising boost.
Apply a base coat
Whether you’re wearing a colour or not, regularly using a base coat can help to strengthen nails and reduce the chance of snapping. If you are planning to apply colour afterwards, the base coat will reduce the chance of staining. Look out for strengthening formulas that have repairing properties, too.
Hold the gel
If you’re a regular gel polish customer, give the LED lamp a rest and go naked (with your nails that is). Removing and applying gel can be tough on nails, no matter how skilled your nail technician is, and so it’s best to avoid gel manicures for a couple of months ahead of the big day to give your nails the best chance to grow long and strong. Worried your nails won’t look good every day? Get into buffing. We’ve tried several over the years, but by far the most effective is the Margaret Dabbs Super Shiner Buffer, £7, which adds a gorgeous gloss – it’s so good, you might not ever go back to nail varnish…
Moisturise your hands and nails daily to get them looking smooth, plump and hydrated. Make it easy to remember by putting your hand cream or oil next to your facial night cream and simply add it to your pre-bed routine.
Whether you’re scrubbing the bath tub or doing the dishes, make sure you wear a pair of marigolds to avoid harsh chemicals weakening your nails and drying out your skin. It’s also important to wear gloves in particularly chilly weather to avoid wind-chapped skin and lock in your moisturiser.
Eat plenty of protein
Like hair, nails are made from protein and so your diet can have a big impact on their health. Lean proteins like chicken or fish are a great place to start, along with beans and nuts. A change in diet will also result in improved skin and shiny hair, so it’s totally worth the effort.
Invest in a gentle, natural exfoliator and gently exfoliate your hands once a week to shift dead skin cells and gently lift hangnails. Always moisturise straight after exfoliating.
When it comes to deciding on your wedding day nail look, the key is to consider your look as a whole. Are you going for a vintage style with a red lip? If so, you may want to match up your nails. Boho styles suit nudes or floral wedding nail art and classic looks work perfectly with a subtle french manicure. Lighter shades tend to look best on longer nails and deep tones look modern and cool on shorter lengths. Quirky brides may want to try out bold and funky designs and girlie brides may find a lacy design is just the thing to pair with their gown. Oh, and if you have a coloured stone in your engagement ring, you’ll want to consider a complementary nail shade.
Basically, there are no set rules and just because it’s traditional, you don’t need to go for natural or nude shades – let your nails show off your personality!
Aromatic repair and brighten hand cream, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, £28
Intensive Hydrating Hand Lotion, Margaret Dabbs, £25
Cuticle oil, French Girl at Net-A-Porter, £19
Salted coconut hand scrub, Lush, £17
Tropical matchbox nail files, Superdrug, £0.49
Strength & Growth treatment, Boots, £8
Prep your skin ahead of w-day, too with the best pre-wedding facials for brides.