Half-moon Manicure Tutorial


We all love a good red nail polish, it has become an iconic colour with many vintage starlets wearing it.

But did you know that red nail polish was used as a status symbol as far back as ancient Egypt?  Colours were used to signify class rankings, with lower classes often wearing nude/light colours and the higher classes wearing red.  Obviously, the ingredients have changed over the years, but it’s interesting to think how much we still love this vibrant colour.

In more recent years many nail fashions and trends have come and gone, but the elegant half-moon manicure, which was popular in the 1940’s, is making a huge come back thanks to such vintage beauties like Dita Von Teese.  As in ancient times the half-moon manicure was also an indicator of social status and health, it was said that if you had large half-moons then you were healthy and in the 40’s healthy meant you could afford the best food!  So, health was fabricated by faking a half-moon shape with nail colour…  Plus, it looks super stylish and elegant!

So, we decided to create this super easy tutorial, so you can create your own:

You Will Need:

A good base coat – We recommend the O.P.I Natural Nail base coat as it protects the nail and prevents staining

Circle Guides – Hole reinforcers also work, but make sure they are the paper ones

A good Pillar-box Red nail polish – We recommend O.P.I Red Hot Rio, it’s a stunning colour which you can see as its the colour we used for our tutorial!

A fast-drying top coat – We recommend the Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat as it’s the best fast drying top coat we’ve ever used!  And its super glossy

Nail Polish Remover – We recommend one with acetone in as it doesn’t smear the red as much as non-acetone

Nail File – Either an emery board or glass file.  Don’t use a metal nail file as they split your nails

  • The first thing you need to do if file your nails into the correct shape.  For this type of manicure your nails need to be an almond or stiletto shape if they are long, or rounded if they are short (pic 1.).  Square or coffin shaped nails won’t work with this manicure as the tip of the nail should mirror the half moon at the base of your nail.
nail shape

Pic 1.

  • Once you have shaped the nail, wipe off any access dust with nail polish remover.  This also removes any surface oil, making the polish adhere to the nail better.
  • Next paint a thin coat of base coat over the whole nail (pic 2.).  The base coat is extremely important as it creates a smooth base for the colour, prevents the nails from staining and it can also help the colour to last longer.

Pic 2.

  • Once the base coat has dried a little position the circle guides (Pic 3.) with half over the base of the nail and half over the cuticle area (pic 4.).  Make sure the guide arch is central to the middle of the nail, in line with the arch of the nail tip and press down the edges to seal it in place.

circle sticker 2

  • Apply one coat of red polish over each nail up to (or even over) the guides (pic 5.).  Allow to dry for a couple of seconds and then apply a second coat of colour.

Pic 5.

  • Let dry for about 30 seconds and gently remove the circle guides with a pair of tweezers (pic 6.).  Start with one side of the sticker and gently peel it away from the nail, left to right (or right to left, which ever you prefer).  You must take the guides off when the polish is still wet, otherwise it can pull the edges of the colour off when you remove it, meaning you lose the crisp half-moon line.

Pic 6.

  • Allow the polish to dry again for a good 5 minutes.  The clean up any edges where you might have got colour on the skin or on the negative space of the half-moon area (Pic 7.).  The easiest way to do this is by using a cotton bud (or Q-Tip) dipped in nail varnish remover, this is where it is important to use a remover with acetone in it as it will remove the polish without staining the skin.

Pic 7.

  • Once the nails have been tidied apply a generous layer of top coat and then allow your nails to dry for a good hour (Pic 8.).  Your polish may feel touch dry within a few minutes, but they will still mark or smudge if you knock them.

Pic 8.

Now your talons have been titivated, you’re ready to take on the world.

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