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Nail that first impression with a perfect manicure

It's been said that you can size people up with a quick look at their hands. Ragged nails and dry cuticles say that details escape you; nails that are perfectly polished exude style. Here's how to get and keep a flawless manicure this season.

Haute hues

Spring is all about bright, spunky color. Essie's Neon Collection is perfectly on trend, boasting four shades including flirty fuchsia, funky limelight (a bright yellow), perky purple and punchy pink ($8 each at

Pink and orange rule spring, and Finger Paints gets the color story just right with Tangerine Tint and Pretty as a Picture pink ($4.99 at Another favorite is Dashing Diva's Drama Queen, a creme fuchsia, and Miranda's Law, an opaque coral ($8 each at Butter London's 3 Free lacquer line — so named for its lack of formaldehyde, toluene and DBP — serves up brilliant spring color with Jaffa, a juicy orange, and Underground, a hardcore pink ($14 each at

For those who dare to go beyond basic color, celebrity manicurist Alisha Rimando of NYC's famed Dashing Diva nail salon created an almost ombre look for models at Akiko Ogawa's New York Fashion Week runway show. Rimando, who has polished the likes of Jennifer Hudson, combined a light pink base and faded pink tip using Headliner, Dashing Diva, Cosmopolitan and Debutante.

Perfectly polished

To keep that sweet spring color from streaking or smudging, Rimando recommends drying each coat of polish for one minute before applying the next coat, allowing solvents from the polish to evaporate, thereby creating a hard coating of color. Next, apply a quick-dry silicone or oil solvent.

If nails should end up smudging, Rimando swears by this flawless manicure secret: Using a liberal amount of polish remover on your finger, lightly rub the top of the nail to smooth out the crease or smudge, let dry and the reapply a top coat.

When you head to your favorite manicurist, extend the life of that manicure by bringing your own high-quality base coat, color and even quick-dry system. Not only will you always have the right hue on hand for touch-ups, by insisting on using the products you trust, you can really lengthen the life of your manicure.

I travel with Zoya's Anchor Basecoat, Armor TopCoat and Hurry Up Speed Dry Drops, so that no matter where my quest for the perfect manicure may take me, I know that the polish color I pick will last. Plus, the fast-working Speed Dry Drops assure that I avoid the heartache of ruining a new manicure by grabbing my car keys or putting on my seat belt.

Carolyn Brundage is the founder of Need beauty advice? E-mail her at [email protected]

Nail that first impression with a perfect manicure 04/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:30am]
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