I've had a request to go over some basic nail care essentials and steps to take before you even start your manicure. This is basically your foundation. Your ideas can be great but not end up turning out as you had planned them if you don't take the steps to care for your hands and prepare your nails before applying polish. I'm going to go over things that I do to protect and nourish my hands/nails. Let's get started:
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover
Cuticle Pusher and Nail File
Here is my well-loved nail file of the moment...and cuticle pusher. Once you have your cuticles trained to stay in their proper form you shouldn't need it all that much, but once a week or so. Get yourself a nail file that has two different grit levels and see which responds best to your nail. The file I am using at the moment is a 100/180. I use the lower level grit for almost all jobs, but sometimes- especially with bad tears or rips that leave you having to match every nail to a now short one- you need a heavier duty file. You base it off of how your nails feel. You don't want to pick anything too harsh on your nail, causing too great ripage to the nail edge, and always file in one direction. There are many nail shapes, and you pick whichever you like. Google "finger nail shapes" and you can pick something that looks attractive to you. Another thing to keep in mind when you're shaping your nails is what shape is the most realistic to fit into your lifestyle. I like the "squoval" shape because it is a mix between square and oval and seems work best for my busy mommy life. You experiment :)
Argan Cuticle Oil
Here's another product I love. I think I got it for free during some promotion Sally's Beauty Supply was having and I try to remember to use it as many nights as I can. You just apply it to your cuticles and around the whole edge of your nail to soften and nourish.
If you want to have a beautiful-looking manicure, you need to have soft, moisturized hands. A big key for you will be to apply lotion to your hands like it's goin' out of style. Just think about how many times you wash your hands every day... and especially if you use a lot of hand sanitizer during your day- you need to moisturize woman! Here's one of the many bottles I rotate among. I especially like this one I found at Sally's because it doesn't give you that lingering oily feeling.
Now it's time to strengthen that nail. Just like anything, nail care is something you have to work at- as you've seen so far. Get yourself a good quality base coat polish. I was using OPI Natural Nail Strengthener, and when it got about this low I didn't like having to tip the bottle to get more product each time, so I switched to another good one by Orly called Nail Defense. You can not apply this stuff too much. Its vitamins are going to strengthen your nails against breakage and promote growth if that's what you're looking for. I still get nicks and rips in my nails because I just use my hands for everything, but I wouldn't even want to imagine what they'd be like if there wasn't a protective layer giving me a hand every day. Besides protecting your nails in times that you're not sporting polish- when you are these little babies defend against the polish staining your nails...as best they can. You're still going to have stainage if you're painting your nails consistently and a good trick to help with that is whitening toothpaste! Rub it into your nail and scrub it with a nail scrubber for a bit- you'll be happily surprised at how well this works. The other thing base coat does, before I forget, is to level out the surface of your nail for the polish to work with. This is important whether you're doing nail art or just a simple two-coat-job of your favorite new polish.
Nail Polish Remover and Flat Brush
These are tools you're going to be armed with for every manicure if you like your nails looking tidy. I mention them in this post because I like to moisturize right before I paint my nails so that my fingers look fresh if I'm taking pictures. However, you don't really want to put your base coat directly onto a nail bed bathed in lotion, so a quick swipe with your brush dipped in polish remover over your nail surface will pick that lotion up and you can immediately apply your base coat. If you aren't aware of how to use these products during your polish application- they are for clean-up. Do you look at nail art pictures and wonder "how do they stay on the nail surface only and not get any on their fingers? I always get the polish all over my fingers!" Well the answer is in the above tools. Dip the brush in polish remover(pure acetone works the best but also dries out your cuticles, so you decide) and run it along the edges of each nail and just tidy up. Easy Peasy! Once you realize the you can quickly pick up any messes you've made during polish application- it definitely makes the task less daunting. Take it easy ladies- all will turn out well in the end! :)
That's it- Nail Care and Prep in a nutshell. I hope you found that helpful and it gives you the kick in the pants to get started on making your own pieces of wearable art now that you've seen how achievable it is!
Love you, darlings :)
Song of the Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBy3LyC4OWI
Over and out.