While we love a perfectly polished nail, there is something to be said for bare nails. Round or square, long or short, a beautifully bare nail can also be considered a statement nail. And if you are a polish-a-holic, it is always nice to let your nails breathe. However, a bare nail does not mean un-manicured. You still want presentable hands and nails. Read on for tips on how to get that perfectly unpolished look.

If you have been wearing polish, make sure all traces are removed by using a cotton ball dipped in acetone nail polish remover. Use a nail brush to clean under the nails. Nails may have been discolored from polish, so you can brighten nails by using a lemon-water mixture. Mix the juice of two lemons with two tablespoons warm water and few drops of either cuticle oil or essential oil, and soak for up to ten minutes. After soaking, apply a hand scrub, such as Hand in Hand’s Sugar Scrub, to remove any dryness and smooth skin. Follow up with a great moisturizer, such as the Body Shop’s Almond Hand and Nail Butter.

Consider investing in a natural nail kit, which is amazing for polish-free manicures. If you have never used a natural nail care kit, you are in for a treat. We swear by these whenever going polish free and some of us have been using these kits for years. It consists of a stone file (which doubles as a cuticle pusher) and three boards. One is a cleaning pad, to further brighten and remove ridges. The second one is a conditioning pad, to stimulate circulation. And the third and final one is a shine pad, to buff nails to a glossy gleam (you can always skip this step if shine isn’t your thing). The stone file is gentle, yet fantastic for filing. Some kits also include cuticle cream or oil. Alternatively, you can use a four-way buffing board, which offers similar buffing and polishing.

After using a cuticle softener and pushing back cuticles with the stone file or orangewood stick, be sure to use a cuticle oil, such as Solar Oil, to protect and repair cuticles. For really dry cuticles, you can use a cuticle cream over the oil to help it penetrate into the skin. File nails into the desired shape. If you are not using a stone file from a kit, this file is really great. Once nails are filed, you can begin buffing with the boards, following instructions. After buffing and polishing, you’ll be left with gorgeous, shiny, natural nails.

Sometimes after weeks or months of polish, gel manicures, and everything else we put our hands and nails through, nails may feel thin and brittle. A strengthener, such as OPI’s Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, can work wonders. And though it is a polish, there is a matte version as well, if you prefer that. A few weeks of using the nail strengthener will improve weakened nails so you can go polish-free in the future.

We hope you dare to bare your nails!