What do you think is the best time of day to give yourself a manicure? I reckon it cuts both ways. On the one hand, there’s the morning (do you ever have the urge to have beautiful nails just before going to work hoping that waving hands about will dry them) but there’s always the danger of the smudge. On the other hand, you don’t eat or handle things while you’re asleep so maybe night time is best. See, I toss and turn and scrunch the duvet around my hands at night, so I reckon late evening gets my vote for the safest result several hours before bed.

The nail polish colour reflected the mood of each fashion collection

It’s wishful thinking that I’d ever have the time (or skill) to change my polish each day to suit every outfit, but peeping over the shoulders of the nail technicians backstage at London Fashion Week (Fall 2011 Ready To Wear) who changed the nail colour for every single show I hoped to at least learn how to apply my nail polish fast. The nail polish colour reflected the mood of each fashion collection, so I’d lots to learn.

If a model arrived backstage with a broken nail, her nails were filed swiftly to the same length as the broken nail and then all were shaped to match. Technicians used a diamond or crystal file mostly using the Leighton Denny one. Several technicians also buffed the nail bed to eliminate ridges with one of my favourite nail tools the 4 Ways Buffer by Nails Inc. Technicians say buffing prevents peeling varnish (polish clings longer to a smooth nail surface).

As for colour, the spectrum ran from neutral nude tones with OPI Dulce De Leche nail lacquer set in thirty seconds by a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti Chip Top Coat at Todd Lynn to OPI Samoan Sand set with a spritz of OPI Rapid Dry Spray at Marios Schwab. In both shows the clean and refined nude nail colour reflected a very structured, clean collection and the dark polish OPI Lady in Black on the toes at Marios Schwab complemented the fiercely structured black shoes.

But dark polish can sometimes stain a nail and seeing as the models were walking several shows and changing their finger and toe polish for each, technicians used a neat trick to prevent the black colour staining the nail by first adding a layer of OPI Chip Skip . A coat of this before applying the first base coat also prevents chipping.

With up to thirty models walking each show (that’s a lot of fingers and toes) technicians had to dry several coats of nude polish fast. I’m often rushed and asked if one coat of nude polish would be ample to get that clean nude nail look? All technicians I asked agreed that when time-strapped it’s best to avoid nude polish and choose something with a strong pigment and consistency. But I love the nude nails so was advised to invest in a bottle of OPI drip dry if I wanted perfect nude nails. Two drops on each nail will set any polish in record time. Another drying trick at Marios Schwab was the fan; the dreamlike equivalent to the office hand dryer, propped up hairdryer or furious blowing. I’m currently on the hunt for one.

Ready to wear Fall 2011 collections with vibrantly coloured touches on the runway used the same attention-grabbing shades. Nails were bright at Vivienne Westwood with Illamasqua Viridian, a peacock green with a metallic finish and flashes of pink were given with the limited edition Eyeko Coral Polish.

While candy-coloured or dark rich shades make a visual impact, so will any application errors. When these colours chip or smudge, eyes are immediately drawn to the mistake. To prevent chips, technicians suggested creating a smooth canvas for polish by buffing the nails (yes you guessed it, the 4 Ways Buffer by Nails Inc strikes again) and using a good base and top coat like Diamond Shine Top and Base Coat by Sally Hansen.

Or Leighton Denny Miracle Drops was used to help set the polish quickly and tidy up cuticles and a fine-tipped paintbrush dipped in OPI Expert Touch polish remover was used to gently wipe away any dark polish colouring mistakes. This remover even swiped away glitter polish which was rather hard to shift.

I could always follow one backstage technician Angie Jay’s lead with her grey nails (a huge trend for many brands come autumn/winter 2011) and have the three week manicure applied at Nails Inc in Debenhams. The bio sculpt gel is applied, heat cured under a lamp and a technician then mixes any of the bio sculpt colours together to create a bespoke shade. Regardless, I love the idea of adding this little bunch of colours to my nail kit and I’m especially excited about hunting for that lovely fan.