Nail Care for the Belly Dancer

Part of being a professional belly dancer is maintaining a high level of beauty aesthetic. Many dancers invest in professional manicures, pedicures, hair removal, eyebrow threading, microblading, lash extensions, facials, and more. A dancer can easily spend $500+/month just on personal grooming and maintenance, in addition to the cost of make-up, hair styling, and costuming/jewelry. I personally prefer a more natural aesthetic and approach to beauty, and would like to share my tried-and-true recommendations for at-home manicures/pedicures that will leave you feeling pampered and lovely, and also save you a pretty penny.

I have loved nail care since I was a girl, and my years of practice have improved my skills over time. Whenever I have my nails professionally done, I often leave disappointed, thinking “I could have done a better job.” The one caveat is garden season; no amount of nail care will save you from the toll gardening takes on nails.

Tools You Need:

- Glass Nail File: Hands-down the best nail file I’ve ever used. I bought a pack of three different sizes from Amazon years ago, and they are still as good today as the day I bought them.

- Cuticle oil: I make my own with a combination of beeswax, oils, and rosewater, but I also like Dadi’Oil or plain coconut oil.

- Orange Stick or Metal Cuticle Pusher: Either works. Use your thumb nail in a pinch.

- Cuticle Trimmer, Nail Clippers, Emery Board: Ensure each is sanitized before use.

- Essie Treat Love & Color Polish: Best. Nail. Polish. EVER! Often only one coat is needed.

- Optional Favorite Essential Oils, Epsom Salt, Baking Soda, Favorite Lotion

- Optional pumice stone and callus shaver

- Optional Paraffin Wax Kit


1. Remove any old nail polish. If you have gel polish on, first file off the top layer. Then soak a cotton ball in acetone, apply to nail, and wrap with tin foil. Leave this for several minutes, allowing the acetone to thoroughly loosen the gel polish. Use your cuticle pusher or similar tool to gently scrape off gel polish.

2. Wash hands and feet with soap and water. Dry thoroughly.

3. Cut nails to desired length and shape. I prefer oval to pointy, so I trim straight across to my desired length, and then trim the sides into a point.

4. File nails. Use the glass file to softly round any rough edges, and smooth out nails to avoid snags.

5. Push and trim cuticles while dry. Yes, while dry. I learned this trick from Nails by Shelby in Vancouver, WA, the best nail technician I’ve ever seen. Doing this step with dry cuticles ensures you will not cut too deeply, risking bleeding and infection. I also only cut toe cuticles. My finger cuticles are only pushed back. If you have not pushed cuticles in a while, you may need to trim, but do so sparingly.

6. Buff the tops of nails. Use your emery board to gently smooth the tops of your nails, removing any rough spots and ridges. This prepares your nail for polish, and provides a smooth, professional-looking finish.

7. Wash hands and feet again with soap and water. Dry thoroughly.

8. At this point, if you’re in a rush, apply your nail polish, let dry and go. If you have spare time, treat yourself to a foot soak and paraffin dip first:

- Add ¼ C epsom salt, ¼ C baking soda, 2-3 drops of essential oil to a large bowl full of warm water. Soak feet for 10-15 minutes.

- Gently shave or scrub off calluses and rough spots. Rinse with warm water, dry, and apply favorite lotion generously.

- Dip into paraffin wax 3-4 times, allowing to dry and harden in between each dip. Cover with plastic (I reuse plastic grocery and produce bags), then stick into large warm socks. Kick your feet up and relax with a good book!

- Once ready, remove wax, and rub any remaining lotion in. Wipe the tops of nails with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol (this dries nails and prepares them for polish).

- Apply nail polish, allow to dry, and walk out the door with beautiful, professional-quality nails!

I hope you find these beauty care tips useful. If you try this method, please leave a comment letting me know how it went and what you liked best!

Malia Christina is a professional belly dancer in Battle Ground, Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon. She teaches weekly classes and performs throughout the Pacific NW, USA and beyond. Malia is not a professional nail technician, so please take this advice as an informal recommendation and in the spirit in which it is given.

#nailcare #essie #athomebeauty #diy

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