How to Wrap Your Nails, and Do a French Manicure.




Introduction: How to Wrap Your Nails, and Do a French Manicure.

 Getting your nails wrapped in Salons can be pretty expensive, anywhere from $25-$100. Salons usually use one of three types of material: silk, fiberglass, or fabric. The reason for wrapping the nail is to provide strength and to protect against chipping and splitting, or to mend a nail that is already split. I hate having to cut one fingernail if it starts to tear near the quick. I don't like having one nail shorter than all of the others. This is a fairly easy solution to that problem. This instructable isn't specifically for mending, but for providing strength to all of my nails (though, for mending one nail, use this same method.) 

Also, I show my easy way to paint a french tip on your nail!

Step 1: Materials Needed

Materials Needed for all steps:

For the Prep work:

Nail polish remover (if your nails are already painted) (non-acetone, and 100% acetone is what I used)
Cotton Pads or Cotton Balls
Birch wood manicure stick
Cuticle Shaver/cutter
Small cuticle scissors
Tea Tree Essential oil or olive oil (optional)
Small brush for applying oil (optional)

For the Wrap:

One tea bag
Nail glue or super glue
Small scissors
Fine grit nail file
Nail buffer 
Piece of plastic wrap (i'll explain later)
Small paint brush (optional)
100% Acetone (optional)

For the French Tip Polish:

White Nail Polish
Clear Nail Polish
French Pink or other color for the bed of the nail (I use a pink tinted translucent nail strengthener)
Non acetone nail polish remover
Short, flat paint brush

If you would like to know where I got any of these materials or the prices, just ask!!! 

Step 2: The Prep Work.

If you already have polish on your nails, you need to remove it.  100% acetone works really fast to remove all of the polish, if you don't have any, just use regular remover.  

Once you have removed any old polish, you need to remove any cuticles that are grown down onto the nail. For this I use Tea Tree Essential oil with the small brush to soften the cuticle (you can use olive oil if you don't have tea tree) then, use the Birch wood stick to push back the cuticle, the shaver/cutter to remove any obnoxious cuticles and the small scissors for any hang nails. 

When  you're finished with those pesky cuticles, go wash the oil off of your hands using soap and warm water. 

You are now ready to wrap!

Step 3: That's a Wrap!

Salons use silk, fiberglass, and fabric for their wraps, but for this method we will be using a tea bag. It's thin enough, so it's hardly noticeable, but still offers a lot of strength. You can also use a coffee filter, but they are thicker, and I've found that they don't last as long. 

Start by deconstructing the tea bag.  I used the small scissors to open the staple at the top and completely remove it. Most tea bags are just folded over and crimped, so you shouldn't have any problems unfolding it. Once you have completely unfolded the bag, get rid of the ground tea. I threw mine in the trash, but it doesn't really matter how you dispose of yours. I ironed the bag material flat, just because it bothers me for it to be wrinkled. Trim off the crimped edges and any holes from the staple.  You can get many wraps out of one bag, so just stash it with your nail supplies and use the same one until it's gone!

You should probably take off any rings before you continue.

Cut a strip of material from one edge, about an inch wide (unless your nails are longer than an inch.)

Estimate the width of the nail, and cut a small square/rectangle to fit. You can then use the small scissors to round one end to fit. You can press the material on the nail and get a rough imprint of the shape you need to cut. Only cut the rounded end, you will need to leave some overhang at the "tip" end so you will have something to hold on to.

Once you have the shape you need, it's time to glue it on. 

I use super glue for this, but you can definitely use nail glue if you have it. The gel glue does not work well, so I suggest using the liquid version.  You'll need to completely cover your nail with a thin layer of glue, be careful not to get it on the skin around your nails.  Once the nail is covered in glue, line up the small piece of material that you cut to match, and stick it on. You can move it around the first few seconds, just to get things lined up nicely.  When it's all lined up, use the piece of plastic wrap to press it onto your nail, and get out any air bubbles. This is very important. If there are any air bubbles, the wrap won't last long at all. Pull off the plastic, and let the nail dry. I like to dip a small brush in acetone and remove any glue that got on the skin, and under the nails. The sooner you do this, the easier it comes off.

Once the nail is dry, cut off the excess material hanging over the end of the nail.  Using the fine grit file, even out the end.  When you are finished filing, you need to put another layer of glue on top to completely seal things in. Try not to touch it until it's completely dry, and it will be a lot easier smoothing it out later. 

You can go on to the next nail while the previous one is drying. 

When all nails are dry, use the buffer to smooth out the top, but don't file too much, or you'll wear down the material, and have to start over. You're just trying to get a smooth finish on the top of the nail. The buffer I use, I actually bought at the dollar tree, and it is a "7 sided buffer" (though it really has 8 sides) and it has different grit files on each side, and even one to polish and shine. It works really well for smoothing the top of the nail.

When you've smoothed all nails, you're ready to move on to the painting! 

Step 4: French Manicure.

If you want to apply a base coat you can, but I usually don't.  You could use a ridge filler, or something along those lines, if you're worried about the texture showing through.  My clear top coat is very thick, so I don't worry about it. 

Starting with the white polish, paint the tips of each nail, just a little ways above where you want it.

Using NON ACETONE remover, dip the flat brush in, and carefully swipe along the top edge of the paint, making a natural looking curve. This takes some practice, once you get the hang of it, you can usually create a flawless curve on the first swipe.  The reason for using non acetone remover is so you don't mess up the wrap that you just applied. Acetone will dissolve the glue, and you'll end up with a gooey mess on your nail instead of a smooth finish. 

Once you have the nails looking how you like, you can paint over the whole nail with your french pink. I don't use french pink, because for some reason, it does not look natural on me. I use a translucent pink strengthener, and it looks very natural. I carefully apply it to the nail, not going on top of the white, because then it would just be tinted pink, and that's not the point. (see picture)

When that is dry, go over the whole nail with the clear top coat, and try to go over the edge of the nail, sealing everything completely. 

It's that simple!

Step 5: Wrap Removal.

 Your wrap should last at least a week, and can even be repainted, if you use a non acetone remover.  If a corner starts to lift off of your nail, you can use a toothpick to apply glue under the corner, for a quick fix. DO NOT peel the wrap off of your nails, this will do a lot of damage and make your nails very weak and brittle. If you remove them correctly, you shouldn't have any damage at all to your nail.

For the removal of the wraps, you'll need 100% acetone, cotton pads/balls, and 10 squares of aluminum foil. You could use regular nail polish remover, as long as it has acetone in the ingredients (it'll just take longer.) Non acetone remover won't work. 

Working on one hand at a time, saturate the cotton pad in acetone, place on the nail and use a square of foil to hold it on, completely covering the pad so the remover doesn't evaporate.

I do one hand at a time, because, well, it's hard trying to do anything with 10 foil wrapped fingers. 

Leave this on for about 10 minutes, then pull the foil and the pad off of your finger at once. The pressure from the foil helps to remove the wrap. If it doesn't all come off the first time, rub with the cotton pad until it is all removed.  

This seems like a lot of work, and the first couple of times you do it, it is a lot, but once you've done it a few times, it gets very easy.  You don't want to leave a wrap on all of the time. You should let your nails rest by leaving the wrap off for a week or so. I go three weeks on,  one week off.  

If you have any questions, or need me to clarify any of the steps, please feel free to ask.

***I am not responsible for accidents caused by carelessness while using any of these tools/glue.  Just because this works for me, doesn't mean it will work for you. I am also not responsible for any damage caused by using this method, as I have clearly stated correct ways for applying and removing without causing any damage to myself.***



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    9 Discussions

    Wow! A really comprehensive tutorial. Thanks. Following you now.

    hiya i was wondering: I have very short nails (due to my job) but once in a while want long nails without spending the skrill on acrylics (not to mention the damage it does to my nail beds). Can I use nail tips and the "tea bag" wrap to achieve the length I want without the commitment? thanks for the tute!!

    1 reply

    I'm not sure if this would work or not. You would still have to glue the tips to your natural nail. I'm not sure if that little bit glued to your nail without acrylic would be enough to hold it on, even with the paper wraps. Also, the wraps are so thin, you would have to file down the seam of the artificial nail so that it was even with your natural nail, or there would be a ridge once you put the wrap on. All I can say is, give it a try, maybe do one nail and see how it works. Do it on the weekend when you don't have anywhere to go, and see if it stays on all day. I'd love to hear if this works for you!

    So trying this! I love having my nails done but can't afford the cost. This is a very inexpensive way to have my nails!
    Thank you!!

    thanks for the instructable, I have wanted wraps forever but couldn't find any one in my area that does it.  I cann't wait to try it!:)

    That's great! You'll definitely notice a difference. Make sure there is no oil on your fingers at all, or the wrap won't last as long! Also, if you replace them one at a time as needed, it's a lot better than doing all 10 at once every week or so. Just an idea!

    Great idea, thanks!  I have a question:  Do you think I could use clear nail polish instead of glue - or would that defeat the whole purpose?  I'm not sure that my super glue is safe to use and I'm hesitant to apply nail glue to my natural nails.  What do you think?

    And a suggestion - a French 'Tip' (ha, pun intended) - scotch tape works well for a straight french tip line, and, although it is harder to do, you can also achieve a curved line with scotch tape. 

    Thanks for the awesome Instructable! :-) +5*

     Clear nail polish would work but not for very long, it would chip easily. Nail glue (the glue designed for artificial fingernails) is safe for your natural nails, and if you remove it with acetone, it will not damage your natural nails at all.