Monday, January 9, 2012

Nail care - Angie edition

So everybody and their grandma has a nail care post, but here's mine.  I've gotten quite a few emails, and other messages on other networks asking how I keep my nails/cuticles so nice, and I thought I would put together a post talking about what products I use, and I will have some tips at the end.  So put on your most comfy sweatpants....this will be a long post!

So first thing I start off with is cuticle remover.  I can not express how important this product is in my arsenal.  I see a lot of nails where I say "oh if only they had cuticle remover".  Right now I only have these two.  The Mango Miracle cuticle remover I got from Sally's, it's an ok product.  But the Adios Creamy Cuticle Remover is excellent.  I found this at.......Bartell's......or Walgreens (sorry, can't remember!), and I really like it!  It's super thick, unlike the mango one which is really runny.  What the product does it softens the hard bits, and dry skin that hangs around your cuticle area, it's easily removed by a dry paper towel or cotton round, or whatever you want to use.  I also find that this helps remove stubborn color that hangs around your cuticle area after you've removed, say a blue polish that doesn't want to leave your cuticle area.

I use a cuticle remover a couple times a week, or whenever I think my cuticle area is looking haggard.  What I like about the Adios remover is that it is super moisturizing, it always makes my cuticles feel nice.

One of the things I knew I would forget to take a pic of is my nail brush.  After I have removed my polish or after applying and removing cuticle remover, I scrub my nails with a nail brush.  It helps to get the last bit of polish off (especially if it's glitter!), or the last bit of dry skin that maybe a paper towel didn't get to when using my cuticle remover.

After I have removed my polish, used my cuticle remover, and scrubbed with my nail brush, I am ready to use a base coat.

Now I have to say, I have TONS and TONS of base coats and nail treatments, but these are the ones I used the most (thought I don't know why I included that OPI, as I don't use  From L to R, Julep's Nail Therapy, OPI Original Nail Envy, Nail Life Nail Revitalizer, Color Club's Vitabase and OPI Natural Nail Base Coat.

Now I have to say, one of the things I look for in a good treatment, is how well it works as a base coat that anchors my polish.  Out of the 5 I have pictured here, only 2 of them I currently use on a daily basis.  The Vitabase was my go to base coat, I had never known that I could get polish to last more than a day without chipping, till I picked this baby up.  I've gone through 3 bottles already.

I had heard excellent things about Nail Envy, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy it (it's not cheap at $16.99).  And I have to say I love it.  I've been using it for about a month now, and it works excellent as a base coat.  Now I have some time before I see if it's made a difference to my nails, but so far, it does leave a my nails nice and strengthened when I have this one.

Another reason I use these two products the most is they dry super fast, which is a plus for me as I just want to get on with my polish!

These are kind of a miscellaneous treatments.  Nail-Aid's 3 Minute Artificials and Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat.  Both of these products leave your nails super hard (that's what she said, lol!! couldn't help myself) after applying.  I don't think these have any benefit to the actual nail itself, so I don't use these anymore as base coats.  Though as many nail lady knows, these work very well as a coat over gritty glitter polish, to smooth everything out.  That's basically what I use them for now.

And then of course comes the topcoats.  These are the ones I currently use.  The most important aspect to me with a topcoat is how quickly it dries.

Now out of all of these products shown, Seche Vite is my go-to.  I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it.  I dropped it for a while there as I was sick of the shrinkage.  BUT I started wrapping my tips with not only polish, but a bit of SV, and I no longer have the shrinkage at the tips that drove me insane.  I still get shrinkage at the cuticles, but I try to make sure my SV coat overlaps my polish at the cuticles.

From L to R: Sally Hansen's Diamond Strength Diamond Shine Base and Top Coat (I kid you not, that's the name on the label!), Julep's Fast Dry Topcoat, INM Out The Door, SV, Color Club's Vivid Color Intensifying Top Coat and Color Club's 0-60 Speedy Top Coat.

The Sally Hansen top coat I was able to find super cheap at a Grocery Outlet by my house for $2, I bought two of them.  I actually quite like this topcoat, I was glad to find it cheap.

The Julep topcoat came with one of my Julep Maven boxes.  It's an ok top coat, nothing special about it, and definitely won't repurchase at the price Julep has set for it.

Out The Door topcoat is nice.  I like it, but it doesn't leave a glossy finish like SV does.

Seche Vite, the holy grail topcoat for many.  This stuff dries at lightning speed, and leaves a super shinny, glossy finish.  If you can get past the drawbacks of this polish (shrinkage, smell (I happen to love the smell of it....), and thickness of the product), you will be in for a treat.  This is the reason I started polishing my nails everyday.

Vivid Color topcoat, this was my go-to topcoat after I quite SV for a while.  This stuff dries polish ALMOST as fast as SV, with the shine to boot.  I didn't find it intensifies nail polish like it states though.

And lastly, 0-60 Speedy Top coat.  While I like this, and it does dry quick, I get the shrinkage that SV gave me, without the glossy finish.

AFTER I paint my nails and make sure they are dry, I treat them with cuticle oil.  L to R: Nailtique Oil Therapy, Nubar Cuticle Care Oil in Passion Fruit, OPI Avoplex Nail and Cuticle Replenishing Oil and Julep Essential Cuticle Oil.

Now this right here is probably the biggest help to my cuticles, and I LOVE cuticle oil.  Of the 4 here, the OPI Avoplex is my favorite.  It really feels like it penetrates my dry skin and moisturizes it.  I can't say the same about the Nubar oil.  I feel like it just sits on top of my skin, smelling nice.  But I still use it. 

I also really love the Julep oil.  It has a rollarball applicator that makes it super easy to use on the run.  I keep it in my purse (OPI's Avoplex also makes a portable one that I use as well....thought I can't find it).  I can't say I will repurchase this product, as Julep products are not cheap.

Cuticle creams are very important to me as well.  I use these mainly at night since they are a little on the greasier side.

L to R : Lush's Lemony Flutter, Burt Bee's Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, Hoofer's Choice and Lush's Ultrabalm.

Now, Lemony Flutter is my go-to heavy cuticle cream of choice.  I *TRY* to remember to slap this on before going to bed.  I have to say, I have 2 pots of this right now, and if any of you are familiar with Lush, they have short expiration's dates (since they are handmade products, and they try to stay away from a lot of preservatives) and both of my pots are expired *blushes*.  The only problem I find with this, is the smell has changed. 

I really do like my Burt Bee's creme, and usually always have one in my purse.  It's not as greasy as Lemony Flutter, so that's a plus when carrying it on the go.

Hoofers Choice I picked up on a whim at Sally's.  I'm not a huge fan of it, but I will use it up.  Since it was originally used on horses, it does smell like a hoof treatment I use to use on my horses back in the day...thought I don't remember what that product was.

Lush's Ultrabalm is a wonderfully versatile product as well.  I use it on my cuticles, lips, and any dry skin.

Now to go along with cuticle oils and creams, hand creams are very important too.

Clockwise: Bath and Body Works Shea Cashmere Hand Creme, BBW Shea Cashmere Hand Creme in Dark Kiss, Julep's Glow On, Soap and Glory's Hand Food, EOS Hand Lotion and Lush's Smitten.

I have hand creme EVERYWHERE!  It's crazy!  I find them in random purses, drawers, my car....I literally have tons of these everywhere.  These were just some I found near my!  So I won't talk about each of these, but my go-to heavy duty one is Lush's Smitten.  It's heavy duty and greasy, so I only apply it when I know that I will have greasy hands for a while.  Unfortunately Smitten has gone retro, so you can only purchase it online.  And a plus, it smells like Lush's iconic Snowcake!

Ahh....nail files.  Such a hot debate in the nail world!  Anna from Loodie Loodie Loodie has absolutely AWESOME post's on nail files.  After reading her posts, I stopped using my glass file to do all my filing.

I will say that yes, I buff my nails.  I don't like having ridgy nails, so I buff them smooth.  Now I will say I ONLY file the base of my nail to smooth the ridges out.  The only exception to this rule is if I have really bad staining, then yes, I will buff my whole nail.

I love buffing blocks, yet I still purchase the file form of buffers too.  Make sure if you get these, to read what each color does.  My favorite files are the ones you see here by Tropical Shine that I get at Sally's.  You also want to make sure you replace them after time, they lose some of their grittiness (though I haven't had that problem with the Tropical Shine ones).

And for the love of God, don't use metal nail files, and stay away from really gritty nail files, that shit will eff up your nails!  Again, read Anna's post's above about nail files and grit numbers!

And some more miscellaneous things I use all the time.  I love my orange sticks for everything from getting crap out from under my nails, to watermarbling.  I also purchased a plastic cuticle pusher from Sally's which is nice since you can clean and disinfect it.  And of course I have cuticle nippers for whenever I have a hang nail.

And last, but not least my acetone.  I use pure acetone to remove my polish, it works so much better than non-acetone remover.  If you follow Anna from Loodiex3 like stated above, you already know about her recipe for Zoya Remove + which involves adding some glycerin to your acetone.  So I encourage you to do it!

You will also notice the paint brushes in this pic.  These are what I use to clean up around my cuticle area.  I also have a small bottle of Sally's acetone I use for my cleanup process.  I get my paintbrushes cheap at Michael's.  Just remember they won't last forever, you are dipping them in acetone after all!

Now, for some tips I have learned over the years.

*If you want to know if your nail polish is dry enough to touch without leaving fingerprints, gently touch your nail to your lip (sans any kind of lip product of course!), and if it isn't tacky against your lip, it will be safe to *gently* touch.  This doesn't leave any kind of mark on the nail (except of course if the polish isn't dry at all).  My mom taught me this trick when I was a kid.  Did anybody else learn this too?  I would be really interested to know!

*The way I know my polish is dry through all layers is to again *gently* touch my nails together, if they don't feel tacky against each other it's usually safe to say, dress for the day, lol!  Though this isn't always fool proof, it's a good guide.

*I always wash my hands following removal of polish.  And I use a nail brush to scrub any residue off my nails.  This has helped tremendously with application of polish.  I use to have lots of bubbling and uneven coverage before, due to crap I had left over on my hands (bad choice of words....I've never had actual crap on my hands!).  But as Anna will tell you, don't paint your nails if they are wet, as in submerged in water, after a bath or shower, etc.

*I always have a orange stick ready to use when painting my nails.  I use them if I happen to flood my cuticle with polish, I quickly will scrape the polish out while it's wet.  It makes cleanup a whole heck of a lot easier.

*I also always have a paper towel for cleanup purposes.  I wipe my brush off on the paper towel as I'm doing my cleanup process.

I hope this was helpful to someone out there!  And I am serious when I say check out Anna's blog Loodie Loodie Loodie, and prepair to have your mind grapes explode with the info she gives!  Not only does she give great information, but she is super sweet, and effing hilarious to boot!!  Show her some love and visit her page if you don't already!!

And, I would really like to know if anyone else learned the trick about touching your polish to you lip like my mom taught me!!


  1. OMG this post. It's like total nail care p0rn. I enjoyed ever inch of text.

    But seriously, posts like these take so long to write and put together, so thank you. I love seeing what other people (with sexy nails) use!

    Of course, thanks for the shout out!

    Now I have a couple things I want to try out! yea!

  2. I love Lush's Lemon Flutter and Soap & Glory's Hand Food.. I always repurchase them everytime I run out xx

  3. Suddenly I remember why my nails are so shit ... lol. I haven't even heard of half this stuff. You should be ashamed of me.

  4. thanks for all the great tips! I'll definitely look into picking up a bunch of these products!

    and yes my mother taught me that trick as well!!!

  5. And you should also check Amazon for the nail envy! It's significantly cheaper, even if you're forced to pay shipping

  6. Another trick (not for the faint hearted and chemical phobic though) to see if your nails are really dry is to wait until you think it's dry, then lick one. If it's dry on the surface but not dry all the way through, they'll have a faint chemical taste, but if they're completely dry then they won't have a taste at all. Obviously not one for everyone, and not something I do all the time, but it can come in handy for those times you want to go to bed but don't want sheet marks!

  7. I use the exact same tricks to see if my polish is dry! No one showed me though, I think I just figured it out somehow. I thought I was the only one! lol

  8. My mom taught me the same trick for seeing if my nails are dry! I use it every time I paint my nails (which is often)!


I love hearing your comments, but please NO LINK SPAMMING!