Nail trends may come and go, but a solid kit will last you a lifetime. With many years of lacquering up celebrity clients like Sarah Jessica Parker, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, and countless others, Deborah Lippmann certainly knows a thing or two about what goes into crafting the perfect nail kit, which we've often seen her haul backstage at New York Fashion Week to paint models' digits in record time. That's why we asked her to reveal all of the key elements we should be keeping in our own nail arsenal. Keep reading to find out about all of the essential items you need for a star manicurist-approved nail kit.
1. Nail Polish Remover and Cotton Balls
A nail polish remover like Lippmann's The Stripper ($19; nordstrom.com) paired with a handful of cotton balls is not only essential for swiping away the remains of last week's chipped polish, but also removing any oils from your nail beds, which can hamper the lifespan of your manicure. "Saturate a piece of cotton with nail lacquer remover, place it on the nail, and press down to cover it with the cotton," she advises. "Then, grab a second piece of dry cotton and place it over the saturated piece. Hold it for five seconds, then gently pull it forward toward the tip of the nail."
2. The Proper Tools
Lippmann recommends keeping a buffing tool on hand, like her Smooth Operator version ($12; nordstrom.com), to prep your nail beds and file away any rough or uneven edges. "You should shape your nail so that it mirrors your cuticle and elongates your fingers," she says. "Remember to use gentle motions to prevent breakage." The pro also recommends having a cuticle nipper and a cuticle pusher on hand. We love Sephora's Tough As Nails Deluxe set ($20; sephora.com) which includes both, plus literally every other tool you'd ever need.
3. Nail and Cuticle Treatments
"Nail treatments are so important! Hydrating daily is key for optimal nail and hand health," says Lippmann. "One of the biggest problems women have is that their nails, cuticles, and hands are extremely dry. Think of your nails and hands like your face—it wouldn't occur to most women to wash their face and not apply a moisturizer, but they wash their hands over and over and don't apply hand lotion." We love topping off our finished mani with a generous dollop of L'Occitane Hand Cream ($22; sephora.com), but treatments like Formula X's The Fix ($16; sephora.com) are just as important for giving your nail beds some love on those no-polish days. Lippmann compares her Cuticle Remover ($20; nordstrom.com) to an exfoliator, which helps you push back your cuticles and remove the dead skin cells, though you'll still need an oil for hydration. We love Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil ($9; target.com).
5. Nail Polish
The last and most-obvious element to your nail kit? All of your favorite lacquers, of course. It's easy to get caught up in every single color trend out there, so try to keep your hoard to a few classic tones, with the occasional wild hue thrown in.
From Left to Right: Butter London in Yummy Mummy, $15; ulta.com.
Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Polish in Jezebel, $18; sephora.com.
OPI New Orleans Collection in She's a Bad Mufuletta, $10; ulta.com.
Deborah Lippmann in Before He Cheats, $18; nordstrom.com.