16 November 2018Last updated


Confessions of a nail junkie

With a collection of over 100 polishes and Pinterest pins full of nail art, it’s safe to say our beauty writer Sonam Basantani is a bit of a nail addict. She gives us the lowdown on trends, top nail salons and DIY manicures

Sonam Basantani
22 Feb 2015 | 05:03 pm
  • Back in August, I was obsessed with tribal prints and this nail art by Nailtastic Salon was a reflection of that.

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  • This month, I’m feeling wintery, so the darker theshades the better! I went Berry Hard from Essie atThe Nail Spa – a favourite this season.

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  • Last Ramadan, I went with ombre nails at The Dollhouse Salon – this look is great because you can even choose to do just an accent nail asombre.

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  • At a recent Jergens event, we were pampered witha mini mani by Sugar Urban Nails. Shimmer isn’tusually my thing, but this shade was too pretty.

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  • I received these cool NCLA nail stickers from West LA – they were so easy to apply, just stick on, file down and slick on a top coat for durability.

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  • When new polishes land on my desk, I try to avoidtemptation. More often than not I can’t help but try a few out. I call this look ‘the pastelSmarties’.

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  • Here are a few of my favourite nail polishes frommy personal stash, which I have collected over theyears. I wasn’t lying about being a nail junkie.

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It’s hard to believe that I used to once bite the very same nails that I now cry over when there’s a hint of a split or chipped polish. I remember in my early to mid-teens, my mum would forcefully apply a clear but bitter polish on my nails in a bid to end the terrible habit – which, unfortunately, didn’t seem to work. But then I had my first mani-pedi experience – and it changed my world as I knew it.

I didn’t realise how something as simple as nail care could give me a whole new outlet of creativity. It started off with a classic French, but as months turned to years I became a nail polish junkie and, if I may say so myself, a bit of a connoisseur.

I had more than 25 different polish colours from drugstore brands and I even started creating my own by mixing shades and layering colours.

As I hit my late teens and early twenties, my career and my life were very much in tune with the fashion and beauty industry, and my nails became an extension of that (no pun intended).

As someone who was born and brought up in the UAE, I’ve become accustomed to the grooming expectations of women who live here, expats and all. Busy or not, women will try to set aside time, even if it’s just once a month, for a pampering session to treat their tips and toes. So whether they’re going au naturel or painting the town with an Essie Really Red, a woman’s hands and feet are extremely important not only for looking good, but as they signify some ‘me’ time.

As for me, I like to give my nails the special treatment, and take style cues from the fashion and beauty world. I found that often my nails wouldn’t only reflect the mood I was in but would also complement my OOTD (that’s a new-age abbreviation for outfit of the day, FYI).

From half-moon designs to palm trees, glitters and graphic lines – I have always tried to experiment with the latest trends for my talons.

Here are just some of the new trends I can’t wait to try out this season


Backstage at Bibhu Mohapatra, nails were hand-painted in white with criss-crossing graphic lines, while at Wes Gordon the lines were layered and interlaced to imitate the lines seen in his linen fabric designs.



At Ann Yee, nails had a nautical moment with blue and white stripes, while at Kye monochrome nails were all the rage with graphic detailing. 
I will definitely be trying the latter with this year’s new Pantone colour, Marsala.

DIY salon nails

Before you rush off to experiment with the latest nail looks, you need to know the basics when it comes to nailing hand care. Here’s my essential six-step guide to creating the perfect canvas for a DIY mani if you don’t have the time for an in-salon experience.

1 Clean: Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover and wipe off any existing polish. Follow with a fresh cotton ball soaked in a bit of remover and wipe off any oil residue from your nails (this will help your colour last longer).

2 Soak: Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and soak your fingers for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, apply cuticle oil to the edges and let it absorb.

3 Push: Your cuticles will have softened thanks to the water soak or cuticle oil, so they’re now ready to be pushed back gently. Make sure you do not cut your cuticles – if you do, you run the risk of an infection.

4 File: If your nails don’t need cutting then go straight to filing them with an emery board. Make sure you file in one direction; don’t go back and forth as it causes nails to chip and break. If you find that your nails tend to be weak, try a nail strengthener.

5 Shine: Buff up your nails to create a smooth surface. If you’re someone who likes to go polish-free some days, buffing your nails is a great way of adding a natural shine.

6 Scrub: Exfoliate your hands with a home-made honey and sugar scrub to remove any dead skin and leave hands soft and smooth. Top it off with an anti-ageing moisturising cream. Now you’re ready to polish!

It’s polish time!

Once your hands are perfectly prepped, you can move on to the polish. Here’s how to make it last…

Clean ‘em: If your nails have any discolouration, try rubbing them with a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Prepare the edges: If you’re worried about colour spilling out of the nail on to your finger, apply a light coat of Vaseline to the skin around the edges of the nail. This means if you do mess up, you can easily wipe it off once the polish is fully dried.

Solid base: Always apply a base coat and let it dry a little before you apply your nail polish.

Double up: When applying polish, double-coat your nails in thin layers. Thick layers are prone to smudging, take longer to dry and are easier to peel off. For an even finish, make sure your first coat is dry before applying the second. If you’re a busy woman who doesn’t get time to fix chipped polish, try CND’s Vinylux Weekly Polish, which promises to last a week.

Technique: Use a three-stroke technique. First, dot the brush at the centre of the base of the nail next to the cuticle and push the colour to the centre of the tip. Then do a stroke on either side, in the same way.

Top coat: Make sure you apply top coat right to the edges to seal in the colour.

My little black book of salons

If you’re anything like me, then you prefer leaving polish and arts and crafts to the professionals. Here’s my list of the five most fabulous salons that deserve a shout-out for being the best in town when it comes to nails.

Bellefemme Salon 04 395 3334

The Nail Spa 600544001

N.Bar 04 330 1001

Sisters Beauty Lounge 04 339 8500

The Dollhouse 04 385 4484

Sonam Basantani

By Sonam Basantani

Beauty Stylist and Writer