Harriet Westmoreland Shares Her Top Nail Rules

Harriet Westmoreland is the A-list manicurist behind many of the nail looks you see on the red carpet and Instagram. With a celebrity clientele including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Zendaya, what she doesn’t know about nails isn’t worth knowing. We asked her to share her best tips, as well as the products she wouldn’t be without…

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#1: Shape The Right Way

“The key to a really good nail look is to create a shape that’s neat. File your nail flat across the free edge – the top bit of your nail – then bring the file down to each side, filing just a soft corner. Don’t go over anything too much and always work in the same direction – going back and forth can cause brittleness, so try to stay in one direction if you can.” 

#2: Skip The Soak

“I’m often asked to share my best hacks, and really the old-school rules still stand. My biggest tip is to never soak your nails before attempting a manicure. My manicures are always done dry. If you soak your skin, it can be difficult to see if what you’re trimming is dead or alive. It can also cause your nail to swell which results in premature chipping of polish. It’s a golden rule not many people follow.” 

#3: Stock Up On The Right Products

“I always use the Navy Protocols Doris Tool to gently push back any dead skin on the nail plate. I then use the Katey Super Fine Nips to remove any dead skin that’s sat nearby. Both tools are easy to use, even for nail novices, and in my opinion they’re essential if you want a clean, smooth shape that’s ready for polish.”

#4: Do Use A Good Base Coat 

“I absolutely swear by the Dior manicure range. There are three base coats that suit all skin tones: Dior Base Coat Abricot, Diorlisse Abricot 500 and Diorlisse Abricot 800. I love layering and mixing them together to achieve the perfect colour – sometimes this is all you need, especially as these formulas have a hardening base that give a gel effect to the nails. I also recommend buying a good hand scrub and a rich hand cream – my favourites are Byredo’s Hand Scrub and Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream. The skin on your hands and nails is no different to your face, so you need to maintain it and keep it in check. I love the Sisley Black Rose Mask and La Mer Hand Serum too – both are so nourishing.” 

#5: Keep Neutrals Handy

“I have three nail colours I always carry in my kit. They’re all by Biosculpture: Crème, Rose and Spun Out Of Dreams. I love neutrals – if you ask me, nothing beats a sophisticated, clean finish. The Biosculpture polishes are great as they also nourish and hydrate the nail, and never leave them stripped or dry. The new Hermès Les Mains Collection is worth having on your radar as well – the Rose Porcelaine and Rose Coquille shades are beautiful.” 


#6: Take Your Time

“My biggest rule is to take time getting the foundation of your nail perfect. This includes the cuticle and making sure they’re neat and tidy – both of these steps are key to a great manicure. Yes, it takes time, but it pays off in the long run and will make any future manicures easier. To nurture your cuticles, use a facial oil. My favourites are Augustinus Bader’s The Face Oil and the La Mer Face Oil, but you can use any you have at home. They have a richer texture than traditional cuticle oils so they offer even better hydration.” 

#7: Nail Your Technique

“My most asked question is: how to do a flawless, skinny French tip? This comes down to the brush you use as you paint the line on, which needs to be very thin. It’s worth investing in one, especially if you enjoy playing with different nail art looks. Try decanting a bit of white polish onto a mixing palette or piece of tin foil, then dipping your brush into it, painting just the free edge of your nail. If your nail is short, you can apply the thinnest line and paint slightly down the sides – this creates the illusion of a longer nail bed. If you go wrong, just use a lip brush dipped in nail polish remover to clean up any mistakes. You also need to spend time choosing the correct base for your skin tone. Have a play with different shades and look for sheer browns, pinks and nudes to see which ones you like best.” 

#8: Avoid Clipping The Nail

“Nail clippers are still a good tool, but when they’re not used correctly, they can cause splits and damage. The tools I recommend owning include a cuticle pusher to remove dead skin from your nail plate – this will help polish last and make application much easier – and a high-grit file. The lower the number on the file, the courser it will be; the higher the number, the softer it will be. You want a grit of 180/220, directing it upwards on your natural nail to get the right shape – be it coffin, square, rounded or oval.” 

#9: Never Ever Pick

“This goes for the skin around your nails, but also your gels. Never ever pick or peel them off – it’s really that simple. The long-term damage it can cause is sometimes reversible but always get them removed by a professional where possible, so you can maintain good nail health.” 

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