Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nail Care

Last week I gave my baby sister a mani/pedi in preparation for a wedding she was attending and had to give a deeper thought than usual to nail care. Usually I just apply base coat + colour + fast drying top coat, but I do have the accessories for a longer routine should I wish to indulge. I'm always curious about what other people are using to maintain their own nails, so here's a peek at mine. I show you mine, you show me yours, yes?


Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover


I picked this up on sale for around $5-6 when I really started to get into nails and blogging... and rarely use it. I don't like messing with my cuticle since it's generally smooth and healthy. I don't do anything fancy with my hands like doing regular scrubs or moisturizing. I always apply a rich hand lotion after washing my hands and try to work that into the skin around the nails where they are prone to hardening. Then at night I use a thick body butter as an overnight hand cream and never really have issues with raggedy cuticles or hang nails. (And when the skin around the nails get really tough as they do regardless of how much I moisturize... I clip off the surface with the nail clipper while I cut my nails. Gross or do you do it, too?)

But on days when I feel extra particular, I squeeze a drop of this instant cuticle remover over each nail along the edge and wait a few minutes. Then I gently push back the cuticle with the flat end of...

...this Nail Cuticle Tool (it doesn't have a fancier name??)



I prefer using the flat edge to push everything back evenly and I'm not even sure what the rounded edge is supposed to do! Hmm... I thought myself kind of a pro but this post is showcasing how much I'm not!

Nail Buffer


Then I use the four-sided nail buffer to file, buff, polish and shine. Usually I like to cut my nails and be done with it, but sometimes I do need to clean up the uneven edges with the file. Then having filed it, I'd feel the routine lacked a little more and go all the way with the buffing and polishing and shining. I do have ridgy nails so the buffing is probably not a bad thing, though I don't like the idea of buffing the surface of the nails too much. Luckily my nails are fairly thick and strong and they break due to trauma rather than splinter regularly. (So, I know that glass files are the rage right now but I'm just not yet at the level where I need to invest in one.)

Essie Protein Base Coat


This is only the third base coat that I've ever tried. The first was China Glaze and the second was Sally Hansen. I sent them both to the waste basket at about the halfway point as they got goopy and weird. I decided to splurge for the Essie Protein after my nails became brittle due to (a) general health/nutrition, (b) changing my polish too often, and (c) using overly harsh products too frequently (Sally Hansen all-in-one coat as base and Sally Hansen polish remover). So far I like it. I wondered at first if the milky look of it would provide a better base for colours but it dries almost clear on the nails so that's not really a factor. I changed up a couple of other things in the routine as well so I can't say that the protein base is bringing the wow, but everyone from the girls at Trade Secrets to the real pro nail bloggers (like Mimi at Makeup Withdrawal) say this is a good one, so I'm just going to trust them on it.

OPI RapiDry Top Coat


I have some complaints with OPI, one of which is their sly tactics to trick customers into buying extra things, and another being their stupid ass names for their shades. But my Seche Vite got left in the Philippines with the other sister and I ended up with this one somehow. And to be fair, it's a very good fast dry top coat. I don't have dragging or shrinkage issues with it and it dries to a nice glossy finish. I'm not going to say that it's the best ever, but I'd buy this again over Seche Vite.

Zoya Remove + and OPI Polish Remover


After I gave up on the Sally Hansen polish removers (they'd leave white streaks on my nails and the surface of my nail would peel off if I pressed too hard or left the soaked cotton pad over them too long), I caved and got the Zoya Remove + in March after hearing rave reviews about it. I was pretty amazed at how well it removed as well as how gentle it felt and how it smells like lavender. It's the least offensive nail polish remover I've tried. But it's quadruple the cost of a Sally Hansen remover and now that I'm not quite as flush, it's going to be a real splurge to buy that again. Luckily, I came across the jumbo size of the OPI Polish Remover at Winners, going for about $12 instead of the usual $30+. The OPI also removes well and feels gentle on the nails, so I'm quite happy about that. Since I'm also not polishing as much lately, these two should last me quite a while.

Also, I figured out why I wasn't so crazy about the recent Essie purchases. Though the blues and greens are calming and pretty, what I really needed for perking up was juicy and vibrant pinks, reds and oranges!

* * * W A R N I N G * * *

TOE PICS!!!



















Essie e-nuff is e-nuff























And finally, sometimes people ask me how to keep nails from chipping and all I have to offer is:
  1. must apply base coat to bond the polish effectively
  2. apply 2-3 thin or medium layers of nail polish with ample drying time in between layers 
  3. finish with a top coat
Because I work in an office and in a department that doesn't even deal with physical papers or files, my hands have it pretty easy. The most rigorous thing I do is type, which isn't rigorous at all. So as long as I follow the three steps, my nails don't even experience tip wear until a week later. But lately I've been helping my parents with a lot of manual labour and found the polish chipping after a few days. To that I have no answer and I think if you work with your hands a lot, there's no magic product out there that can prevent chips from occurring. You might have to cap off the tips of the nails with an extra layer of top coat, but when the nails are banging against dishes and other hard surfaces, there's only so much that can be done, ya know?

So, what do you guys use for your nail care routine? I'd love to see some posts on it or just hear your opinions in the comments. And if you have additional tips for preventing chips and such, bonus points!

34 comments:

  1. My nails are usually in scary condition because I do inventory/stock at a bookstore, so they are constantly being chipped on the edge of shelves or books! To be honest, last year I finally found out what a "cuticle" was haha. It's funny that you post this because just the other day I decided I'm going to start taking better care of my nails and making them look fabulous! I'll be working on the sales floor instead starting next week so my nails won't have to experience such trauma again :)

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    1. You work at a bookstore?? Awesome!

      This is the beginning of your nail polish whoredom journey. JOIN US - IT'S FUN HERE. >:D

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  2. My nail polish doesn't last very long, but I LOVE Essie First Base basecoat - it doubles the length of time nail polish lasts for me, though sadly that means it lasts about 2-3 days instead of 1-2.

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    1. Hey, 2-3 day is no joke! That's a mani twice a week instead of 3 or 4! I'll have to try First Base when I'm tired of "nourishing" my nails. ;)

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  3. I'm horrible at keeping my nails in shape. I've been using the Zoya Remove+ for a couple of years now though, and it's good stuff. One of those bottles has lasted me all the time I've been using it, and they usually do great deals (although I dunno if those apply to CA?) which make them even cheaper. It's good that you found something else to use in addition, though, that's cost-friendly! I don't do my nails often enough to justify buying massive things and DIY-ing it.

    As for base/top coats, I have no idea. I used Zoya for a while but my top coat finally got goopy, so I switched to an Essie quick dry coat and I don't find it lasts as long. I think I may need to move into higher end type things (Butter London or Deborah Lippmann) as the other drugstore brands just don't cut it for me - chips galore! I've heard good things about BL's base and top coats.

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    1. Nah, we don't get any of those awesome Zoya deals. I have to buy this stuff at regular price at the beauty supply stores. But since I do use removers by the gallon (when I'm in my proper beauty mode), I'm going to look into DIY removers courtesy of advice per Mimi and Loodie.

      I was thinking of giving Lippmann base/top coats a try eventually. You'll have to do a post for us when you do!

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  4. I never use a base or top coat. Need to keep those tips in mind. Awwww. So sweet of you to spend time with your baby sister before her wedding.

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    1. I never used to either but I started to once I got serious about nail polish.

      My sister was married almost 2 years ago. This was for someone else's wedding that she was attending. ;)

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  5. I'm working on a post like this, too! (Well, sort of; I've had a draft going for a month, but school and stuff has kept me from actually writing it...) I've tried so many base and top coats and currently think I like Sally Hansen Nailgrowth Miracle and Insta-Dri best, respectively, but that may change by the time I actually get around to posting about it! I haven't tried the Essie basecoat, but it's now on my list; ditto the OPI top coat. (Also, I never buy OPI because a) it's hard to find for me, and b) I HATE THEIR NAMES SO MUCH OMG. But I've heard such good things about their Nail Envy basecoat that I may cave and try it, too.) And I've used cuticle remover before (Blue Cross huge bottle for, like, $6), but haven't actually had great results, perhaps because I've not been using a metal cuticle pusher, just a rubber one. I like cuticle oils and creams, because I find hand cream alone doesn't quite cut it, but I also make sure to trim them when they get too thick!

    And wowzers, tl;dr. Great post!

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    1. I actually haven't heard anything about OPI Nail Envy. And OPI is sold at almost all the salons here, more than Essie. It's always so interesting to hear about the regional differences. And I didn't even know there was such a thing as a rubber cuticle pusher! Learned something new. :)

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  6. The rounded thing is actually ear wax remover. :P My mom had used that on me when I was little.

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    1. We used those too but this isn't it. But you can buy it at the drugstores to pick your ears again, Arianne. ;p

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  7. I read from somewhere that recommended applying another base coat after colour polish and finish with top coat to help prevent chipping. I personally haven't tested this out yet because I change my polish two times a week so I don't have a problem with polish chipping. :P

    And my guess on that cuticle pusher is that the rounder side is for pushing the cuticles on the round edge where the nail starts to grow or it could be used to scoop and clean under the nail. But really there isn't a right or wrong way to use is as long as it gets the job done, right? ;D

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    1. Oooh, I hadn't heard that! I'll try it with my next mani and hopefully get to bang up my nails somewhere, haha.

      And YES, that's what the rounded edge is for! and you're right that it doesn't really matter as long as it works. :)

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  8. I'm quite blah about my nail polish removers & tools but my base coat/nail strengthener must be OPI Nail Envy (Original or Matte). Nail Envy is my HG - the Sally Hansen Miracle Growth is pathetic compared to it! Also love the Milani Glosse top coat! And I knoooow cutting cuticles shouldn't be done frequently but I do it and then apply liberal amounts of cuticle cream :X
    Aside from a good base & top coat, I find a glass nail file does wonders compared to emery boards.

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    1. Ahhh, don't make me want to try Nail Envy. Lalalalalalaaaaaaa~

      I feel like we also get addicted to certain habits. You like to cut your cuticles and I like to cut off the dead skin around the edge of the nail!

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  9. Guilty confession: I've NEVER used cuticle remover!!! Great post idea, so obvious that I should do one of these at some stage. You know I'm an OPI nail product devotee - I'm glad you like RapiDry too :)

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    1. REALLY? You're such a nail polish fiend I figured you must know all the secrets. ;) Please do a post!

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    2. Your wish is my command! I just need to get myself organized - been sooo disorganized lately. I have 101 post ideas stored on my cell phone and not enough time...

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  10. LOL, how much do I love that you have a warning for toe pictures?

    All I do is take off old nail polish with Zoya Remove+, trim my nails with a nail clipper, push back cuticles with an orange stick, then apply base coat (Julep Nail Therapy), colour, and top coat (Seche Vite). I don't buff or file or remove cuticles... :X

    "And when the skin around the nails get really tough as they do regardless of how much I moisturize... I clip off the surface with the nail clipper while I cut my nails." -- I DO THIS, TOO!

    My trick for non-chipping nails: change nail colours before they start chipping. WORKS LIKE A CHARM. :D

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    1. Some people hate feet! Myself included 99% of the time. Looking at all the unpedicured feet in the subway in the summer makes me feel physically ill. @_@

      So glad you do that cutting thing! Once someone was watching me clip and was like, "Ummmm, that's not your nail...!" But I also use that opportunity to scrape away any stray polish action. Hmmm... these methods sound a bit ghetto. :x

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  11. Heehee. Cute toes, Liz and lovely bright color you got there.

    I love all things that have routines. I love the stress-relieving routine of doing manicures especially. Learned a few things getting them done professionally and have incorporated some steps into my home version.

    I use Butter London Cuticle Melt Away, which softens stuff enough to push away with that handy dandy "nail care tool." (I think the smaller, rounded side is for getting the gunkies out from under the nails. Ewwwwww.)

    I clip and file away to the desired length. I also use a nail stone. Not sure what the real name of this thing is but I bought it at a local nail salon as I couldn't find it online. It is a grey narrow and longish stone stick. I love this thing for really smoothing away the nail edge which I suspect helps the nail polish adhere.

    I also use the 4-sided spongy thing just to very gently smooth the tops of the nails. This gives a nice not perfectly smooth surface for base coats to stick to. Speaking of base coats, I always use the Butter Nail Foundation. I actually bought a second bottle and I usually have a roving eye for newer things. Two thin coats of polish and I top with Essie Good to Go. As long as I don't apply too thickly, the finish is super shiny and there is no shrinkage.

    There is that trick of lightly coating the edge of the nail tip to extend wear, so I do that.

    If I do all this, then I get a good 5-6 days with maybe minial tip wear. And that's not so bad. Certain brands/colors/formulas are really fantastic for long wear. Discovering that Estee Lauder has a fantastic formula!

    (Love your blog, by the way and love your sensibilities!)

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    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Jane!

      Sorry, no clue what the nail stone is about! Apparently I don't know anything about the tools. :x

      And I have heard that Butter Nail Foundation is good stuff! I like to rotate and try new things, too, so that is on the list for "eventually". :)

      Yesterday I had a sudden urge to look for the glossiest top coat possible so it's nice to hear about Essie Good to Go as well!

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  12. Lol...I can't believe you posted a "toe pic" warning...you're hysterical, Liz!

    My nail care routine is a flexible thing; some days I probably go overboard and on others I'm minimal at best, but there are 2 solid mantras I live by: always moisturize and never, ever cut cuticles. I actually have little L'Occitane tubes of hand moisturizers (and possibly even one specific to cuticles) in every bag, and never allow my hands to feel "papery" - and once I apply the cream, I always work some into my cuticles, even gently pushing them back with my fingers ... this way I can stay on top of things and they're never allowed to become too overgrown. I also find that using an orange stick and or a metal version that Tweezerman makes, right after coming out of the shower when your skin is at its most pliable, is a fab way to keep up with cuticles as well.

    When I do paint my nails, I never skip base and top coats - no matter what. As to a buffer, I confess to never actually having used one as I don't think I've ever seen any ridges on my nails, but I am curious to see its effect. Even my base and top coats vary, as I'm constantly trying out new ones; some work with all brands, others - not so much, so it's always something in the works for me.

    Glad your sister was able to benefit from all the experience you've been collecting...she may just start asking you to do her nails from now on, no matter the occasion! Perhaps you should start charging for your services....I'm just sayin'! Lol!

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    1. Gotta do what I can to protect delicate eyes. ;)

      I have hand creams in all my purses, too! Well, in five purses that I rotate the most. I think our routines are similar except that I almost never push the cuticles back.

      I've been doing nails for my sisters for a while now, but they don't live with me anymore so the opportunities have been scarce. It was good bonding time. :)

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  13. I just picked up two new products: Essie's First Base base coat and Orly's In a Snap quick-dry top coat. Just used the two of them today actually, so we'll see how they fare! I haven't found a base coat I'm in love with, but I was fairly pleased with Revlon's Quick Dry Top Coat, as it dried fairly fast, was cheapy, and lasted ages without getting thick at all, which is HUGE in my books. I find my polish chips fairly quickly (on my fingernails anyway) which is frustrating but I think it's just due to some weak and split areas on a couple of the same nails all the time. I've been trying to keep them short to grow it out so they get back to where they were - I was using a craptacular polish remover and I think it created the problem.

    ANYWAY, love the cute little toesies and the polish shade, and this was a good post Liz - I might have to do something similar as it is interesting to see what people use!

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    1. Oh, thanks for the tip on Revlon!!! I didn't realize there were drugstore quick dry top coats. I was so disenchanted with the old Revlon nail polishes that I never looked.

      Please do a post, Toya! I want to see one from all my fave nail polish lovers. :)

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  14. wow thanks for doing this post!!! i will definitely be picking up some of the tools you used in this post.. because those toenails look AMAZING! i mean seriously professional!

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    1. My toes and I thank you! I find toes easy to do - no one's examining them at close range. ;)

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  15. Hi liz, Great post! I think a pushy tool is key, and I like the flat ones too. I've been using The Target brand up and ups acetone remover, and I like it. Maybe I don't get white patches that easily, or it seems to work well. I'm not sure! I like the regular OPI topcoat I have. I have a Sephora by OPI base coat, but the brush is small, unlike the OPI pro brush, which I don't like. I've been thinking about q cuticle remover, since I've been neglecting my cuticles lately.

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    1. You've got that slightly dry post-vacation beachy hands, don't you? *jealous* :)

      I always stayed away from acetone removers because I thought that they were harsh, but now I hear the thing to do is buy pure acetone and mix with glycerin for a cheaper dupe of the Zoya Remove+.

      Hear you loud and clear on the small brush problem! I find Essie brushes to be a tad too small but at least they fan out nicely to make up for the size.

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  16. Great post Liz!

    My base and top coat are Sally Hansen's and I'd say that my manis last about 24hrs before the first chip. But recently I bought an Essence 1$ nail polish and it did last for 5 days before minimal tip wear! I was impressed! but I broke a nail and took it off... I thought I had found a great formula and tried a different shade, 24hrs later, 4 fingers were chipped!! :(

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    1. Sometimes those things vary by shade, not the brand. It sucks extra much when the shade is awesome but the formula is awful. :(

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  17. I'm so lazy with my nails in comparison to your routine Liz! I usually just use a base coat + nail polish, and right now I'm really liking Essie Fill The Gap Ridge Smoothing Base coat, though in general I'm not that fussy about it. And I've never use cuticle remover!

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