It's been a minute since I started doing my own natural nails at home and I've tried *coughs* quite lot of products myself during this decade [you can check out my Flickr album for reference] and I think I've finally come to know how to take care of my nails. For this, I feel like I can share a couple of tips without feeling guilty for doing so (e.g. not feeling "entitled" to do so ahahah).
If you've read my previous post on nailcare, the way I perform my manicure hasn't drastically changed. As a matter of fact, many of the things I've talked about in that article (link here) are still relevant.
However, in these last few years, I've learnt some new things.
The best way to take care of my nails and hands, for me, is by three separate phases, each of which consists of different steps:
- Dry phase
- Wet phase
- Oily/greasy phase
1. Dry phase:
- I start by removing old nail polish and wash my hands to eliminate remover residue (ok, this is not very dry xD). Favourite removers? Kiko Universal nail polish remover or the Gentle version and the Zoya Remove+, used together with Muji Ecru Cotton. When I swatch, something that rarely happens, and I'm not using staining colours I use Kiko Fast&Easy remover, that is pretty much like the Bourjois 1 Second nail polish remover.
- I wait for the nails to dry down a bit, usually a couple of minutes, to avoid manipulating nails whilst they're in a delicate state.
- Then I file my nails. Since I've started using glass files, that's all I've been using. And since I've started using Mont Bleu, that's all I've been using! I use a nail clipper to trim my thumbs. Yes, I know. Not the best option, but I usually keep my thumbs shorter than the rest of my nails. Afterwards, I file them to even the shape out. What's significantly changed in the last year or so is that I file the sides of my nails as well. As you'll see in the pic down below, the sides are not straight. First, because my nails tend to grow wider from the free edge, and that is not a nice look plus it makes them weaker and makes them curve a lot more. By filing them, I partly solve every single one of these issues, plus I find it more aesthetically pleasing and suited to me. I've never done this before because everyone and their mother's said it was evil doing so... So as you can see, sometimes you need to learn what works for you through experimentation.
- A step I find particularly important is sealing the nail bed. This is something I've learnt a looong time ago from the loodie loodie loodie blog (oh dear, who remembers her!?), but finding the right technique for me took a while. Now I use side "step 3" of the Essence Studio Nails Professional 4in1 nail file (don't know the precise number of the grit, I suppose pretty high). I flip my hands with the nails facing the floor, I keep the file at a 45 degrees angle in reference to my nail edge and I do very light strokes downwards and repeat for all nails. I then flip the hand back, so that the nails face the ceiling this time, and I repeat the same thing, with a downwards again, trying to "catch" a little bit of the nail bed as well. So this movement is slightly more fluid, almost resembling a small C. It's definitely more complicated to describe than to do!
- Now I'm ready to tackle the cuticles! Pretty easy-peasy-simple: I use a cuticle remover (favourite ones: Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover and Orly Cutique), let it sit in for thirty-ish seconds and gently remove excess product and skin with the Elegant Touch Professional Cuticle Pusher and Nail Cleaner. On a side note, I used the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and I hated it: made my nails supersensitive and wasn't even that effective. I suppose it's just a question of personal chemistry, though.
2. Wet phase
- I usually wash my hands immediately after having removed the cuticles, so I use the remover on one hand, wash and then remove cuticles on the other hand, and go to the sink again. At this point I wash my hands then I use a nail brush with a squirt of Cuccio Sicilian White Paste to really scrub and whiten my nails. Usually afterwards they have a very healthy appearance: pink nail plates, white tips and overall smoother.
- It's time to give a bit of love to the skin of my hands as weel. Lush Salted Coconut does miracles at smoothing and nourishing them! Hands down (ahahah) my favourite scrub for this body part. Plus, it's not greasy nor messy at all.
- Sometimes, I will take out the cuticle nipper and actually cut dead cuticles. Yes, another abhorrent thing to do. But so much more nail bed is revealed this way *sigh*... you just have to be careful. I do this before whitening my nails and using the scrub.
- Whilst the cuticles are still soft but not greasy, I use the Leighton Denny Hoof stick to push back them back even more and remove the last bits of dead cuticle with the plastic angular end (at this point I must have written the word "cuticle" tons of times, I can't think of an alternative word).
3. Oily/greasy phase
- Pretty self explanatory: slap on as much moisture as possible! I like to start with my nails and cuticles: I love, and repeat, love the Anny Green Tea Hyaluronic Shot. I got like 3 back ups of it. I'm that obsessed. It is quite an interesting and different product, but absolute pure genius: basically, it is a two-way formula. You've got a liquid and an oil and you shake the bottle to emulsify them then get the emulsion with the pipette. Application is a bit messy, but it worths it because the watery part plumps, hydrates and makes the oily part penetrate more, whilst this seals the hydration with a veil of nourishment.
- I apply hand cream, either L'Occitane 20% Shea Butter handcreme (scented ones are the best for me, as the original scent puts me off a bit) or KBShimmer hand lotion (fast absorbing, non greasy, very hydrating, amazing scents and there's an unscented version as well).
- I usually do this once a week or more realistically every 10 days or so, at nighttime. Finish with more cuticle oil (Famous Names Dadi Oil, ncLA Rich Oil or Badger Balm Cuticle Balm) and if I remember to, when I apply hand cream, I also mix in the Cuccio Naturalé Grapeseed Anti-Oxidant Hand Oil. I take my cute Leighton Denny Cotton Gloves and I'm ready to start a pantomime. No, I'm joking. Ah, ah, ah, such fun, I know. Go to bed and let all those products work their magic while I sleep. The next day I'll be ready to paint my digits with the colour of choice.
On a side note, one product I've discovered and that makes me use oil a lot more are cuticle pens, the ones with a twisty cap and a brush tip! Since finishing my KBShimmer ones I've been refilling them with the nail oils in my stash and I find this system so convenient.
There are some products pictured, but not mentioned, and that's because I wouldn't necessarily repurchase them: Cowshed Apricot Nourishing Cuticle Oil, KBShimmer Picture Perfect Cuticle Cream, KBShimmer Cuticle Pens (not that the oil is bad per se, it's just that I like the other ones better).
Taking a little trip down memory lane, here are some products I've used, don't currently own, but will probably buy again: Lush Lemony Flutter, CND Solar Oil, China Glaze Orange Cuticle Oil, Yes to Coconut Protecting Hand & Cuticle Cream, Pai Fragonia and Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream, Love + Toast Honey and Coconut hand cream, the last two are quite the treat, in terms of price. In terms of tools, I think I will invest in a Tweezerman cuticle nipper in the future.
I'm very happy with the products I'm using at the moment, I don't feel like I need to experiment anymore. I'd just like to try some different hand creams, especially mini or medium sized tubes to throw in the bag. There are some organic ones from Italian brands I'd love to try out (MaterNatura, La Saponaria and Biofficina Toscana above all) and a couple by Melvita, a French organic brand.
And here comes some "hot" stuff: my naked nails plus some before and after (in the before pic my nails were devastated...)
|My nails in good shape, but before I started filing the sides|
|Here the sides of the nails are filed: looking so much better!|
I know this whole article is rather "scary" and it looks like it takes me 5 centuries to do my nails. I promise that with time and practice it doesn't take me more than say... 30 minutes max to go from removing my nail polish to slathering cuticle oil on my nails.
I hope this has been somewhat useful to someone. In the next article concerning nailcare I will chat about some of my favourite basecoats, topcoats, treatments and the whole shebang.
How do you do your manicure? Favourite products?
Thanks for stopping by, take care beauties!