Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nail Care & Polishing Basics

Last week I was asked to share with my beautiful readers some of my nail care and polishing techniques.  While I am far from an expert I know what works for me and how to achieve good results.  Let's start with basic nail care...

I use a four-sided buffer to make small refinements to nail shape as well as to even out and polish the nail bed surface.  The Swisa Beauty buffer is far superior to any I have tried before - when I use it to buff my nails the buff lasts for at least a week, if not longer.  All of the other buffers I have tried do not last more than a day.

A 240 grit nail file is great for getting rid of jagged cuticles, hangnails, and any tough skin around the nail area.  Use it like you would use a file to bring down tough skin on your feet.  Never, ever, cut, bite or rip your cuticles!  It can be painful and does little else but exacerbate the problem.

If I have a nail that needs a lot of filing because it has been damaged I always reach for my crystal file.  Crystal files are great for making quick work of nail filing, but be careful not to use it for small refinements as it will take off a lot of length before you realize it.

I almost never use nail clippers to clip my nails unless I have a broken or split nail.  Using a very gentle file each day to clean up the ends of your nails will keep them in good shape and allow them to grown fast and strong.

Your nails can be as beautiful as ever, but they won't look that great if your hands are not properly moisturized.  I am obsessed with Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion, it soaks into your skin quickly and continues to moisturize through multiple hand washings.  

Before bed each night I massage a generous dollop of Aveeno into my hands, and top that with a bit of Aquaphor, which is primarily made from petroleum jelly.  I just recently learned that petroleum jelly does not penetrate your skin but creates a protective layer allowing lotion to penetrate deeply into your skin while you sleep.  

If you are struggling with really dry skin try sleeping with moisturizing gloves.  I use Earth Therapeutics Aloe Infused gloves when my hands are feeling particularly dry.

Once your hands are sufficiently moisturized it's time to focus on your cuticles.  I have three go-to cuticles oils that I love, actually four...Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is another great product.  Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil is what I keep by my bed at all times.  While I'm reading at night or watching something on my laptop I gently massage the apricot oil into my cuticles and nails.  

Cuticle pens are great for the girl on-the-go.  Two of my favorites are Theraneem Nail & Cuticle Pen and Elf Nourishing Cuticle Pen.  Theraneem is made with neem oil, which has been used in Ayurvedic treatments for thousands of years.  This pen has a soft bristle applicator that gently distributes the oil.  When the applicator needs more oil just twist the bottom - easy, simple, and effective!

The Elf Nourishing Cuticle Pen is another good pen for the busy girl.  The felt-tip applicator applies a quick-dry formula of vitamins, avocado and almond oils to your cuticles.  I especially like this one because it doesn't leave your fingers feeling greasy.  I can use it while I'm waiting for an appointment or sitting in the car.

Next up is a good base coat - I know that to some a base coat seems like an unnecessary waste of time and effort but it is really important to protect your nails from staining and there are myriad base coats out there that offer other benefits as well.  I have struggled with splitting and peeling nails for as long as I can remember, but I never tried any of those "so-called" nail strengtheners because I thought they were just another way to get us to spend money.  Recently, upon a recommendation from my local beauty supply store, I started using Orly Nail Defense - it really does work!  I have not had a single split nail since I began using it well over a month ago.

I'm jumping ahead a bit but I also want to share with you some of my favorite top coats.  If you have the time it is best to use a conventional top coat such as Essie Super Duper Top Coat, this one offers a very glossy finish and extra wear out of your manicure.

If you're in a hurry for your nails to dry reach for Essie Good To Go.  Often times quick dry top coats don't offer a shiny finish, however Good To Go is super glossy and leaves your nails shiny and smooth.  I am completely obsessed with this top coat.  If there is only one top coat you invest in it should be this one!

The next question I got was, "How do you get such perfect semi circles at your cuticle?"

Here is a step by step guide on how I paint my nails:

1) Place the brush with a small bead of polish onto your nail bed about 1/8" away from your cuticle. (see image below)

2) Push the brush and the bead of polish toward your cuticle leaving a little less than 1/16" between the polish and your cuticle. (see image below)

3) Draw the brush slowly down to the end of your nail.

4) Lift the brush from your nail and place it on your nail bed to the left of the polish you just applied. (see image below)

5) Slowly draw the brush down toward the end of your nail and follow the curvature of the nail bed.

6) Repeat on the right side. (see image below)

7) If necessary you can draw the brush down the center of the nail bed again to even out the polish.

If you make a mistake don't worry, there is a very easy way to clean up mistakes.  As you can see in the photo above I flooded my cuticle when drawing the brush down the right side of my nail, but not to worry - we are going to fix it right up!

You will need a few supplies to perfect your polish and clean up any mistakes.

First you will need some acetone based nail polish remover or pure acetone, and a brush.  I have a full, square brush for cleaning up big mistakes and a small, tapered brush for touching up small mistakes.  Because I flooded the cuticle of my pinky finger I opted for the smaller brush.

8) Dip your brush into the acetone, lightly touch the brush to a cloth or cotton pad to remove excess acetone.

9) Draw the brush over the area that needs to be cleaned.  Wipe off your brush and dip into the acetone often.

It really is that simple!

See?  You would never know I had made a mistake when painting my pinky!

Another question I received was, "How do you paint your non-dominant hand?"  Unfortunately, I don't have a fancy answer for that one.  It just comes down to painting slowly in a well lit area and practice, practice, practice!  If you give it a bit of time and patience you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Finally, how do you know when it's safe to do stuff after painting your nails?  To this question I do have a fancy answer, which I learned from the lovely ladies at Oh So Pretty.  Gently touch your nails together, like this - if they are still tacky you need to wait a bit longer, if they don't stick at all you are good to go!

Phew!  We made it through.  I realize this post is crazy long but I really hope it helps those ladies out there who are struggling with entering the wonderful and amazing world of polish.  

Nail polish is a great way to express yourself, so have fun, don't hold back, and show the world how truly amazing you are.  Toodles!

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