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Hello chaps, I’m back from holiday. Did you miss me? I missed you. It’s been tough adjusting to life back at my desk, but the UK weather has made my reintroduction into reality a much smoother process.

As always before a holiday, I got a gel-manicure to ensure my nails were on point for the full two weeks away. But as predicted, on the plane home, the inevitable happened – my polish started to peel. As soon as I walked through the door, before even going to the loo, I put Love Island on (I had two weeks worth to catch up on) and grabbed my nail kit to give myself an at-home mani.

Here’s what I used:

Elliona Gel Off Nailpolish Remover, £6

Gone are the days when you have to make the trip back into the salon to get your gel polish removed. Brands realise that people a) can’t be arsed and end up picking them off (F.Y.I you definitely shouldn’t do this – it’s sooo damaging) or b) they just don’t have the time. Elliona is one of those brands. Their Gel Off remover is beyond easy to use. As the technician would in the salon, buff the top layer of polish off with a rough nail file. Next up, apply the clear liquid directly onto the nail, wait 60 seconds whilst it gets to work at breaking down the polish, then scrape off the polish with a manicure stick. Simple. So much easier and so much quicker than a removal at a pricey nail bar.

Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Nail File, £10

Not enough people buff and smooth their nails. And trust me when I say you need to introduce into your routine. Nothing preps your nails better than this and it such a satisfying thing to do. Whenever I’m about to apply polish, before I even look at base coat, I use this Deborah Lippman file on my bare nails. It has four handily numbered sections to it: two different buffers – one coarser than the other – a smoother and a shiner. I start on buffer one, which is really gritty, to shape the nail tip and remove any residual polish I might have lingering on the nail, then move to number two to file at the ridges in the middle of the nail. I turn it over and smooth out any lumps and bumps with number three and finish off with number four, which makes my nails shine so brightly it looks like I’m wearing clear varnish. This creates the blankest canvas and gets my nails into tip-top condition before I pop any polish on.

Nails Inc Back To Life Recovery Treatment & Base Coat, £15

I love this product so much for two reasons. It’s excellent on post-gelled nails – it strengthens and moisturises because it’s stuffed full of rich active oils. And it’s that perfect nude-pink that you wish your nails naturally were, but most definitely aren’t. I either use it as a base coat before popping on another colour or do two coats for that ‘I’m so sophisticated and chic, look at how perfect my nails are’ look.

Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer Kundalini Hustle, £19

In my opinion nothing, nothing, is more classic than a pillar-box red on my fingers. In my eyes, this is the ultimate palette cleanser. No matter what I’ve had on my nails previously, I always know that two coats of a red will set me straight. And Smith & Cult’s Kundalini Hustle is exactly that. It’s not too bright, too dark, too pink, or too blue. It’s perfection in a tiny little bottle.

Nailberry Little Treasure Nourishing Cuticle Oil, £17

My worst habit is picking at my cuticles. If I see a rouge bit of skin hanging off my finger – it’s got to come off. I really don’t care where I am or who I’m with. I do it when I’m on the phone, on the tube and even when I’m on a night out. I’m pretty sure I’ve done it in a job interview. To stop this habit getting too out of hand (some would argue that it’s too late), I try and drop some of Nailberry’s lemon-scented cuticle oil onto my nails as often as possible. I keep one on my desk as work – that way I don’t really have any excuse, as it’s sat there just staring at me, saying, ‘Katie, sort your life out. Your cuticles are a disgrace.’

POW_ER TIP: Cuticle oil can also be used post mani, as oil helps polish dry faster. After you’ve applied your topcoat, apply a drop onto each nail.

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