File your nails

Skip the salon and save yourself $20.

Not looking for a fancy-pants French manicure? Anyone can master the basics for great-looking nails. Ji Baek, founder of Rescue Beauty Lounge (8 Centre Market Pl between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-431-0449, and author of Rescue Your Nails (Workman Publishing, $12.95), shows us how.

1 Wash your hands and dry them completely. Leftover moisture can cause your nails to tear or split during the filing process.

2 To shorten your nails a considerable length, use a clipper and start cutting on one side and work toward the other—never start in the middle. Otherwise, skip ahead to step 3.

3 Once you’ve reached the desired length, hold the file at a 45-degree angle to your nail. “This will prevent filing in uneven layers, which can cause nails to split and break,” Baek says.

4 File with long, even strokes from one side of your nail to the other. “Sawlike motions can break your nails, especially if they’re already weak,” warns Baek.

5 “Buffing is essential,” she adds. Running a buffing block on top of your nail beds and on the tips (again, in long, even strokes) smooths out the finish.

6 When speaking, use grandly exaggerated hand motions so people will take notice of your new claws.