A perfect 10
Date: 24 August 2016

If your mani game needs a boost, follow these top tips from cult nail brand Ciaté - By Parizaad Khan Sethi

What’s your all-time favourite small luxury? For me, a manicure tops the list. It’s an enforced 45 minutes of you-time, and one of the rare tasks you must do without the presence of your fifth limb, the cell phone.

But—and isn’t there always a but—all manicures are not created alike. What sets apart a good manicure from a great one are small details. We raided the collective brains of the artists behind cult nail brand Ciaté for tips on achieving mani perfection. Share them with your manicurist, or deploy them yourself when you’re DIY-ing.


Cuticles are the dead scraps of skin you see on the base of your nail bed (not to be confused with the rim of live skin that seals your nails to the bed). In other words, the cuticle is skin found on the nail, not around it.

The cuticle protects from fungus and infection; assuming fungus-free is a state we all want to continually strive for, give strict instructions to your manicurist never to cut cuticles. Instead, use a rubber hoof stick to push them back towards the bottom of the nail after a shower or soak. Moisturise with jojoba oil or a cuticle pen like Beautiful Cuticles.


There is an art to everything, including filing your nails (true fact). The guys at Ciaté recommend a crystal nail file over the traditional emery board or metal file. Emery boards can split apart layers of the nail, while a crystal file smooths and seals edges. And always file in one direction, not back and forth like you’re using a saw. Carpentry class is down the hall, kids, this is nail school.

Pre-polish prep

After nails are cut and filed and cuticles dealt with, gently clip any dead, peeling skin. For all that is sacred, please do not clip healthy skin near the edges of the nail because you want to feel industrious. If the skin there is healthy, step. Away. From. The. Clippers.

If nails need some TLC, use an appropriate treatment. Bendy nails could use a strengthener like Nail Gym, while dry peelers can spend the night with Knight in Shining Armour, an overnight nail mask.

For very prominent ridges buff the nail gently. Buffing thins nails so do it sparingly, only when needed. Then cleanse off all oil (polish doesn’t adhere to oily nails) with a nail toner like Base Balance.

Underwear Base Coat is up next, and however tempting it may seem, don’t skip this layer; it really protects the nail from stains and polish.


Place the brush loaded with polish 3/4 of the way down the nail bed. First push the brush backwards to reach the cuticle, but leave a hair’s breadth between the polish line and the edge of your nail, to avoid ‘flooding the cuticle’. In a swift movement, drag the colour from base to tip up the middle of the nail and repeat on either sides of the nail which will coat the entire nail bed in even colour. Don’t forget to seal it in by sweeping the brush over the nail tip or edge, for extra staying power. Apply 2-3 coats, waiting a few minutes or more between each coat.


Let your polish dry a few minutes longer before lacquering them up with a top coat like Speed Coat. Don’t forget brushing over the nail tip to seal it all in. Reapply top coat after a couple of days if you want long-term commitment.

A perfect 10
Parizaad Khan Sethi

is a beauty and wellness editor based in New York. She was the former beauty editor at Vogue India and now serves as a contributing editor for the magazine. At age 5, Parizaad fell in love with an old cream blush she found in the back of her mother’s drawer, and has been in awe of the transformative power of beauty ever since. When she’s not writing about beauty, she researches advances in skincare as a hobby, and is constantly guinea-pigging herself in the name of beauty.