How to Sneak a Manicure at Your Desk Without Getting Caught

Chanel-inspired manicure by Julie Kandalec. Hand modeling by yours truly (contact me directly for bookings. JK. But maybe).

Ooh girl, you’re goin’ out tonight! Even if you’re not, take a look at your hands. How are those nails doing? Healthy? Polished? Soft? Not exactly? Not a big deal.

There’s a short window between the work day ending and the salon closing for the night, especially when you have yoga/305/core fusion. And yes, it’s way too tight to sneak out at lunch for a mani and make it back for the conference call. You’re busy, I get it, me too!—we still deserve shiny, healthy, happy nails (and cuticles).

As for technique, Deborah Lippmann, manicure and nail care guru, weighed in on the sneaky desk manicure:

“To execute this quick, no-fuss manicure, try my special DIY trick: Start by laying your opposite hand flat on a table (or desk!) and angle it so your arm is parallel to your body. When you’re polishing, once you put the brush down, just pull it straight. Don’t try to curve it. To get into the nooks, crannies, and curves of your nails, put a little more pressure on the brush so that it widens, creating a curve. There’s enough bristles on the brush for it to do the job for you.”

Even with a hawk-like boss, you can still sneak in a manicure during work hours. The other trick is bringing everything you need with you, no hooky required. Here’s what’s what.



Nail health is gonna make this process so much easier and prettier, so get in the habit of moisturizing (all the time) with a rich hand cream. Go the extra mile with some cuticle oil. I’m a big fan of Byredo‘s hand cream (which is luscious and smells like you fell into a field in Holland, if you go the La Tulipe route), and I keep a cuticle oil pen in every handbag I own. The pen part makes it easy and completely mess free. You live and you learn and you become addicted to cuticle oil. Get it here and here.



In the moment and feeling ready to go for it? Take it all off and keep the mess contained with this wonderful invention from Deborah Lippmann, the Stripper To Go lacquer remover. These little textured mitts “come in a travel-friendly packet and removes all 10 nails of polish with one mitt, making it discrete and mess-free,” says Lippmann. They are perfectly sized and shaped to take off any remaining polish from previous manicures, sans spills and noxious fumes—these babies are lavender scented. Get them here.





When it’s time to file, reach for the Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer, which also offers everything you need for a polish-free mani. It’s “the ultimate multi-tasker since you’re able to shape, smooth, buff and shine your nails all in one,” says Lippmann. Get it here.



After applying your favorite base coat (Deborah Lippman All About That Base is good, like a CC cream for your nails. Also great, Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock, which works as a strengthening base coat and topcoat in one), choose something quick drying. You do have to get back to typing, you know. But did you also know that Marc Jacobs Beauty makes the fastest drying nail polish of all time? … is what I’ve discovered doing my own research. I’ve painted my nails with it and promptly forgotten, proceeding to wash my hair 15 minutes later and emerging NAILS INTACT. Manicure miracles do happen. Get it here.



Go for the quick dry. Marc Jacobs Beauty in Shiny works in a pinch, and you can get it here. OR, go crazy, and try out something like Pacifica’s just launched Rainbow Gloss 7-Free Top Coat. This swirling, shining sealer isn’t quite glitter, but it adds enough oomph that you can skip out on multiple coats of color (thereby saving time). For all the animal lovers out there, the brush is 100% vegan. Get it here.


Trying to look younger pretty much instantly? We made a guide for that.

Share Button

Facebook Comments