The Complete Guide To Nailcare
Perfectly manicured nails are indeed a wonderful accessory!
This certainly brings everything together, as the nails can make
or break a look. If you just look marvelous everywhere else,
even with that tailored suit, your worn and
chipped nail polish will look off-key. Not only that it
is bad personal hygiene to have jagged unclean and uneven
nails. You do everything with your hands and you surely do not
want to risk an infection. Please treat your hands nicely,
you'd be surprised at how many people notice your hands
following paragraphs we will discuss manicures and care for
natural nails as well as acrylic, silk wrapped, gel tipped and
pedicures. I am even going to include a section on acrylic for
your toenails because I lost both my big toenails from skiing 3
days in a row with cheap ski boots (I am stubborn, okay.). I
again lost one of my big, newly grown out toenails again
skiing in those same boots the next season before I broke
down and bought a pair of new pricey skiboots. Needless to say
I applied partial acrylic to my toenails to make them pretty
again. I could NOT wait for them to grow out because toenails
take about 7 to 9 months to fully grow out. Nothing like the
speed in which your fingernails grow out. I know this sounds
gross, but my feet are cute and I don't think they are gross.
This really affected me. I mean how else would I be able to wear
those gorgeous Stuart Weitzman Cinderella slippers I bought at
the forum shops at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas??? What
Caring For Natural Nails
The Basic Tools
of the Trade:
Cotton Balls/Cotton Rounds:
I prefer the rounds. You know, the little cotton 'discs'.
They seem to work better for removing polish and you also
don't waste polish remover. Good bonus for this is that when
you are doing a polish change on your toenails but want to
keep the polish intact on your fingernails; rounds are less
likely to soak up extra remover and run down your fingers.
Nail Polish Remover:
I prefer the
non-acetone polish remover with moisturizers added. I fond
that the non-acetone version takes a little more elbow grease
(especially the cheaper brands) but is less harsh on the nail
bed and surrounding cuticle.
Nail Files/Emery Boards:
(different colors for different grit) I find those little
cheapy orange-brown emery boards too coarse for the typical
natural fingernail, but okay for the natural toenail.
I use the larger double-sided blue files used for acrylic
nails (Also known as, what else? The Blue File). I think the
light blue side (finer grit) is a good file for fine tuning or
smoothing down the ridges. Yet the coarse side (Darker blue)
is strong enough for acrylic but not too strong as to damage
the nail. I don't like the diamond files nor do I care for
any of the metal nail files.
Orange Stick: Named
appropriately for being made out of the wood of orange trees.
Very creative. Why necessarily made from orange tree wood? I
have no clue -- it just is. You can also use a plastic
"cuticle pusher" but for individuals with sensitive cuticles
-- use an orange stick. You should never use a metal cuticle
pusher as this can severely damage the cuticle and nail bed.
A cuticle pusher is also used for cleaning underneath
Cuticle Softener: This can be a
very harsh chemical. Especially is you have damaged
cuticles. It is like an acid to soften the hardened stubborn
cuticles. There is beauty book Stephanie Seymour wrote and
she suggests applying cuticle remover and then placing your
hands in a dish of warm soapy water.
Cuticle Nipper: There are
nippers for acrylic which are stronger and nippers for
cuticles and hangnails (those painful little tags of skin that
appear out of nowhere) which are not as strong. Don't pull
off hangnails or excess cuticles, use the nipper and NEVER a
pair of scissors! I don't care how small they may be, break
down and buy one.
A Bowl of: Warm water with a
little bit of mild liquid soap, which you will use to soak
your hands in. This helps soften the cuticle but also relaxes
you. You can add a very small drop of essential oil like
Jasmine, Tea Tree or Evening Primrose along with a nice mild
soap. Don't add too much liquid soap, you only need a few
drops. This also helps loosen the dirt under the nail.
Nailbrush: Uh, for brushing the
nails? Yep, you guessed it.
Cuticle Oil: A good oil to use
is SolarOil by Creative Nail. This has almond
oil and vitamin E among other ingredients to moisturize the
cuticle. I love this stuff. It lasts forever,
For soothing and
softening your hands after a manicure. You can also use an
AHA (alpha hydroxy) cream at night to help with your skin's
natural renewal process.
DO NOT! I repeat, DO NOT
use one of those corn/callus blades. And don't let anyone
else use these on you either. A lot of the cheaper, low
budget nail salons use these. It is considered surgery and is
illegal for them to use it in their salons. The
instruments are actually a handheld razor with a guard so as
not to cut the client's foot but effectively remove corns and
calluses. It is unsanitary as your skin and possible blood is
airborne. Not to mention you can risk an infection or foot
fungus from improperly sterilized equipment. Calluses grow
for a reason. I will talk more on this later.
desired. I mean it isn't necessary. But if you don't like
Naked nails then you'll need this, as well. A higher quality
polish is recommended on natural nails as polish doesn't last
as long as it does on acrylics.
How To Give Yourself a Manicure
The Basic Tools of the
Wipe the nail bed with
polish remover. Work the cotton round/ball towards the tip.
This way you don't expose your fragile cuticle to unnecessary
drying from the remover. For stubborn polish rub it a little
or place a saturated round/ball on top and hold it there for a
few seconds, then wipe.
- File Your Nails:
you do this
before you soak so as not to damage or file too much of
the nail away. Your nails get soft after soaking them in
water. Use a softer grit to file natural nails. Do not file
deep into the sides of the nail tip as this will weaken a
- Cuticle Softener:
cuticle softener to the cuticle area. This may burn a bit.
Let it soak in for a minute two.
your nails the warm,
soapy water for about 4 minutes. You don't want to get that
wrinkly-raisin skin on your fingertips.
- Push Cuticles Back:
I use an orange
stick. Stephanie Seymore (Beauty Secrets for Dummies) Skin
suggests that you wrap the orange stick in cotton or use a
towel to push the cuticles back. Just be careful when doing
this because you can damage your nail matrix which is
where the nails are produced. You don't want to risk damaging
You can take a good
moisturizer and massage it into the cuticle area and into the
nail bed. I only do t his if I don't want to polish. But it
can be done in addition to polishing as well.
- Nipping Hangnails:
I suggest using
a cuticle nipper to remove excess cuticle or hangnails. Do
not pull hangnails off or you will be VERY sorry. Be careful
while doing this, you don't want to bleed. Make sure the
nipper is sharp enough to remove skin cleanly.
- Buffing: You can get various
buffing tools to remove ridges an otherwise add sheen to your
nails. Warning: Be careful when you buff, it may get hot from
the friction and will burn your nails, not to mention hurt
like the dickens! When I have natural nails I use one of those
shiny dark gray buffers. this will make your nails smooth and
shiny. These get hot, too. Be careful.
- Polish Remover: Yes, again. this
removes any excess oils you may have or soap residue. This
will provide a nice smooth base for your polish. The polish
will not adhere as well if you have oils on the nailbed.
- Basecoat: You can choose a
basecoat like, Sticky by Creative Nail or any
good quality base coat will do. Apply one coat of the
basecoat working from the cuticle to the free edge (tip) of
the nail. Let dry for a bit.
- Polish: Roll the bottle of
polish back and forth between your hands or fingers to mix.
Shaking a bottle of polish actually makes minute bubbles in
the polish which will surface as it dries. Dip the brush once
in the bottle, drag along the inner side of the bottle lip to
remove excess polish if need be. Sweep the polish on from the
top center of the nail bed to the free edge and then one sweep
to each side of the nail. Two coats should do it. This
results in a smooth distribution of polish. Also this way
excess polish isn't deposited on the side free edge of the
nail. This may take some practice but it comes in time.
Remove the excess polish you may have accidentally gotten on
your skin or cuticle area.
Use a good topcoat,
like OPI Topcoat or Beauty Secret Fast Finish
polish dryer & topcoat. Apply it as you did the
polish. This gives your polish protection an adds shine. You
can add a coat of clear polish every other day to prolong the
life of the manicure/polish. Except! Sally
Hansen's No Chip Top Coat -- It peels off and
yellows, too. Well, it does for me.
- Nail Oil:
I love and
swear by Solarnail Nail Oil (by Creative
Nail). This stuff is great! It has the right concoction of
ingredients and a bottle lasts forever. It smells good, too!
Brush a little oil on your cuticles after the topcoat is in
the tacky stage. Not exactly dry but not going to rub off
onto your Nail Oil brush. I speak from experience.
- Hand Cream: Let the oil soak in
a bit and then moisturize your hands with a good quality hand
cream or moisturizing lotion. Be careful to to hit your
hands. Some people do this step at the same time as
moisturizing the nail bed and cuticles. Whatever suits your
How To Give Yourself a
Feet Need Lovin'
Remove Polish: If
necessary, remove old polish with a moisturizing polish
File: File your toenails or clip
them straight across. If you round them or take
too much off on the sides you'll get a nasty ingrown toenail.
Remove Excess Cuticle: You may
use the liquid cuticle remover, a nail drill (gently!) or a
fine grit nail file to remove excess cuticle. But this is only
if you are doing a polish change. If you are doing the Full
Meal Deal then apply the liquid cuticle remover and then soak
your feet in a nice foot bath, a large bowl or tub with enough
soapy water to cover the feet. Soak your tootsies for about
10 to 15 minutes. You may add a little sea salt, Epsom salt,
orange peels, or essential oils if you like.
Smooth Feet: Remove your feet
from the water and pat dry with a fluffy towel. Use a foot
file or pumice stone to gently remove dead skin and calluses.
You may not want to remove you calluses all of the way
(especially if you work on your feet). The calluses form for
a reason. Check your shoes or insoles. Add extra cushioning to
the sides where your calluses form. Then work your way into
removing them completely.
Push Cuticles: Push them back
with an orangestick or plastic cuticle pusher. Do this
gently, you don't want to damage your matrix. Remove
hangnails if need be.
Scrub: With a soft nail brush,
gently scrub your cuticle area to thoroughly remove the
remaining loosened excess cuticle.
Moisturize: Pat dry and
moisturize your feet with a good lotion, foot cream or Shea
nut butter (unless, you are allergic to nuts or nut oils). You
may massage this in really well. If leaving your toenails
naked then apply a thicker layer of lotion and put on some
thick cotton socks. If not, then go on to the next step.
Prep-work: If choosing to polish
your toenails, remove the moisturizer from the nail bed with a
saturated cotton ball or round or an orangestick with cotton
or gauze wrapped around its tip. This will create a nice,
clean surface for your polish.
Coat: You may or
may not need to separate toes to polish. If you do there are
many cheapy one-size-fits-all separators -- or use a paper
towel snaking above and under each toe, respectively. Apply a
good base coat to the nail bed in the same fashion as the
Polish: Just as if polishing
your fingernails. Remember, one strip in the center, then one
on each side. Two coats should suffice.
Top Coat/Freeze Dry:
Wait for the polish to dry to tackiness and then apply the top
Nail Oil: Apply nail oil to the
cuticle area after the top coat has dried to tackiness or you
will suffer the consequences of getting polish on the nail oil
brush. I hate that. They say "patience is a virtue" -- well
I must not be very virtuous.
Most women go to a
nail technician for their acrylic nails. But if you can't afford
it or don't want to go, here are some tips. This was
before I chose pink and whites. I have gone back and forth
and now my nails are naked.
As I said before, I prefer
Absorbent Paper Towels:
Make sure that is doesn't litter or shed its fibers. Fold
over a high quality thick paper towel then fold it over again
to create 4 layers. Or use one of those disposable nail
towels. These are so cool! I love them.
To scrub your nails with
after you file and smooth to prepare it for polishing.
Use a non-acetone polish
remover. Acetone removers will destroy the artificial nail
tips and acrylic overlay.
I use the larger
double-sided blue files used for acrylic nails (Also known as,
what else? The Blue File). I think the light blue side (finer
grit) is a good file for fine tuning or smoothing down the
acrylic overlay on the sides of the tip and near the cuticle.
Yet the coarse side (Darker blue) is strong enough for the
acrylic overlay on top of the tip, around the cuticle area and
even for taking down length of the tip. You'll find a happy
'Block' (or 3-way filer):
This is a rectangular file
with grit on all four sides. I use the white blocks
(different colors for different grit). Although it doesn't
last as long as the purple ones it is softer and doesn't tear
up my cuticles as bad if I accidentally hit them. They bend
easier, too. The finer grits take more elbow grease but it is
easier to take off a little at a time rather than to add more
later and wait for it to dry and THEN file it some more.
like the cuticle nipper but stronger for cracking through old
Artificial Nail Tips:
There are many types out
there. I don't care for those rounded types nor do I care for
the really long talons. But, these are for your nails
so it is your choice.
Glue: Try a good
quality glue or even the InstaBond or
Nailbond brands will work.
Liquid Acrylic: I
use the primerless liquid acrylic by
Creative Nail, but have used the cheaper ones when I
needed a quick touch up and was in a bind or am on a budget.
The cheaper liquids don't matter that much -- unless they are
contaminated!!! This means don't clean your brushes with your
liquid. Although a nail tech (mine as well) will tell you
not to use Supernail brand liquid (they
train with this product -- cheap.) but I have used it before
and had good results as long as a GOOD powder was used which
is the next product you will need...
This matters. The cheaper powders turn yellow with age and
with UV light exposure. This means tanning beds or natural
sunlight. I use Creative Nail - Solar Nail Ultra Blush
Powder and sometimes the Ultra Natural Powder.
These two are non-yellowing. I absolutely can't stand when my
nails get yellow -- it is so gross. plus! There is more
'lifting' when a cheaper powder is used.
Acrylic Brush: A
good acrylic brush is a necessity. It will last you a long
time if you clean it thoroughly after each use.
Dampen Dish: Why do
they call it that?? You need a dampen dish to hold
your acrylic liquid when you are applying acrylic. They sell
these at beauty supply stores. I recommend the glass ones or
the VERY strong acrylic dampen dishes. These are much easier
to clean and fare well with the chemicals
Nailbrush: Any old
nailbrush will do. This will help remove the excess powder
after filing and smoothing, creating a clean surface for your
polish to adhere to.
Polish, OPI is a good quality line and they
always come out with new collections including all the newest
colors and hues. Creative Nail polishes are
pretty good, too. Although if you want to experiment with
other colors, the cheaper ones are fine. Where OPI
can run you up to $10, the cheapies are .99 -- and you can't
beat that! Especially when polish lasts 2 to 4 weeks
on acrylic nails as opposed to just 4 to 5 days on natural
nails. You can use the more expensive brands on your natural
nail to prolong its use. Your body's natural oils and the
bending of the natural nail just prohibits the life time of a
polish to just a few days unless you coat with a clear coat
every other day.
or Fast Dry, any good topcoat or quick coat
will do. Except! Sally Hansen's No Chip Top Coat
- It peels off and yellows, too. Well, it does for me.
Nail Oil: Again,
SolarOil is fabulous! I love this stuff
How To Apply An Acrylic Overlay To Nails
Am I breaking
some sort of code here? Am I not supposed to divulge secrets?
Nonsense! It will save you a bundle if you learn how to do this
yourself. Although it doesn't make up for the 'time off' and
therapeutic quiet time you get having your nails professionally
laying product well takes
practice, don't get frustrated. You can use cheaper product at
first to get the feel of it. Take care of your nail care
implements. You don't wan to risk infection. You really
shouldn't share implements unless you sanitize them between each
use. Shop around for different colors. There are so many fun
colors, sensual colors and natural colors available. A
perfectly manicured hand completes a look. People do notice if
you have poorly maintained nails, especially if you talk with
your hands. Don't skimp on this important step in personal
hygiene. It says a lot about you.
Step Instructions On Acrylic Application:
Uh, you know what to do...
Make sure it is a non-acetone remover for nails with prior
Preparation: If your
nails are natural, roughen them up a bit with a fine grit
filing block and trim the nails to just at the skin -- not too
much! You will have fine nail dust around your cuticle, don't
worry about this, you will scrub your nails later. Just brush
it off with a dry brush or towel. If you don't trim your
natural nails you can injure yourself if a tip tries to snap
off. Tips are more likely to snap off the nail bed rather
than the free edge area. It will bend or tear your natural
nail off should you smash a finger and have a lot of natural
nail length. Plus it looks really trashy to see
nasty yellowed natural nails under the tips. If you are just
doing an overlay without tips onto natural nail I suggest you
go for Fiberglass instead. If you have old
acrylic, carefully remove the acrylic near the cuticle. It
will pop off sometimes and hit you or the person next to you
in the eye, so beware! Then file the sharp acrylic edges a
bit, take down length if need be or remove any nail tip that
needs to be replaced.
Choose a good quality opaque brand, NOT those ridiculously
thick, full nail bed covering, yellowish-white tips. Tips
come in like 20 sizes. Find a size that fits your nail bed
exactly. If you can't, find one close and file it down a
little on the sides. You need one that is going to sit flush
against your nail bed. Have them all set out, next to your
glue, ready to apply.
Use just a drop to the tip
and place it on the tip up to the little indentation where the
free edge of your natural nail should go up to.. If you
accidentally apply it crooked, be careful it doesn't adhere
completely. Either remove it quick or you may have to soak
this one off. What a pain. If you can't function with very
long tips, to put the other hand on, trim them down a bit. If
you down a bit before you resume.
Use an artificial nail tip
cutter or a very large pair of toenail clippers. If using the
toenail clippers, cut from one side to the middle then from
the other side to the middle. Do NOT cut straight across with
a pair of toenail clippers. If you are a first timer, I
seriously suggest you start off shorter and work up to a
longer length. No self respecting nail tech will give you
much length if you are just starting out. You could
seriously hurt yourself. Compare each nail to get them
looking similar, It is always easier to cut off less than you
want and just file them down. You'll get the hang of it. If
this is your first time laying product then I really doubt
your nails are going to look very professional the first time
around. It takes a bit -- like riding a bike. But if it
does... Wow! You rule! You are a true glamour queen. It
took me a bit
File them roughly to
the length and shape you want them to be. You will be filing
again after the acrylic dries.
Pour the liquid acrylic
into your dampen dish that you have set on top of your paper
towel. This stuff stinks and can give you a headache -- at
least that's what I have been told, I am used to it. My
boyfriend gets a headache when I do this, men! Also don't do
this in a train or people will start leaving the car, I did
this in Canada. And never lay product in an airplane- - even
I haven't tried that one. I know I can't fly no
matter how hard I flap my arms.
Open you container of
powder, you can work right out of the container if you are not
in the habit of over saturating your brush.
is actually enough for beginning laying product over a new set
of tips - NOT a "fill".
Dip your brush into the the
liquid and wipe both sides on the paper towel. Sometimes
there is nasty residue left over from God-knows-where. Then
dip your brush in the liquid again (not all of it, about 1/4
of the bristles - depends on size of brush) and "wipe" the
bristles on the inner lip of the dampen dish once or twice
(like you would do nail polish) so there is not a lot of
liquid dripping into your powder -- ruining it. Then dip the
very tip of the brush into your powder. A little moist "ball"
of product should form at the tip. It shouldn't be too dry
nor too wet. You will learn in time. Apply this ball on the
seam of the tip and natural nail. Work it quickly to smooth
it in, not flat though! Wipe your brush on the paper towel to
remove excess product and re-dip your brush tip in the liquid
again and wipe if need be or just remove excess with the
dish-lip move. This all depends on how much your brush is
picking up or how much your are saturating your brush. Just
repeat the steps over and over, but do NOT get product on the
cuticle area! This will cause lifting as well as increasing
your possibility of developing an acrylic allergy later on.
You will have to do a build
up (*pinky is in process of build up) which is where you make
a tiny mound of product to mimic the natural curve of a
natural nail. Apply a coat to the tip as well at the free
edge. Although not as thick as you would the natural nail and
seam. Remember don't get it on the cuticle area! If you have
lifting you could get moisture between the acrylic and natural
nail -- developing mold or a fungus. Also, it will be awkward
at first to lay product on your dominant hand. As in, if you
are right handed, the product on the right hand may look a
little funny because you are not as talented with your left.
Acrylic on Toenails:
Most nail techs won't do this. The good ones will do it
because they understand that a missing toenail can ruin an
entire ensemble. *boo! hiss!* Do NOT apply acrylic to tender
broken skin. Let it heal first. It is ideal if a portion,
even an eighth, of the toenail is grown out. This is so the
acrylic will have something to adhere to. Apply the
acrylic about as thick as you would on a build up. Wait for
it to dry to a moldable tackiness and kinda create a free edge
with the end of an orange stick or plastic cuticle pusher.
The ending result being a natural nail look. Make sure it
doesn't settle into the cracks on the sides of the nail where
it meets the cuticle. You could get lifting. After the
desired build up and general shape is formed follow the next
steps as it were a fingernail.
have NO remaining toenail:
Use NewSkin®: or
mole skin to protect your skin from the acrylic. You can get
acrylic sensitivity if you keep exposing your skin to it.
Mole skin is the best but doesn't last too long, good for a
night out. And no I do not know if it is waterproof.
After your acrylic
is well dry, it takes less time to dry when you use the right
mixture of liquid and powder. It should take no more than 10
minutes past the time it takes you to apply it to all your
nails. And that is if your fast. I am ready to file about 5
minutes after I am finished laying product on all 10 nails.
File the sides and close to the cuticle with the a medium
grit nail file as well as shape the build up area to look more
rounded and natural looking. File the free edge as well until
you get to your desired length -- which shouldn't be much more
since you already did this to the approximate length. Make
sure you put the same name from the opposite hand next to each
other so they will be the same length.
Use a filing block
(I use the white one) to finish smoothing the nail so it isn't
all bumpy looking. This will also smooth out any build up
Scrub your new nails
with warm soapy water and a nail brush. This will remove any
acrylic dust, excess chemicals or oils and will prepare your
new nail for the polish of your choice. Also, scrub
underneath the free edge as well. It should only take you a
few seconds to do this, do not over do it.
on photo for a larger image
Polish: there is no
need for a base coat as polish adheres well to the acrylic and
will last you longer than a fill will. You'll need the fill
before you'll need new polish. Polish nails like previously
instructed. Some people polish the very tips of the free edge
(the thickness of the nail). I don't but, you can.
Fast Drying Topcoat:
Apply a good topcoat or a freeze-dry type top coat to enhance
shine and further protect your polish.
Nail Oil: I use it
just on the cuticles. This will re-moisturize and condition
your cuticles after exposing it to the chemicals and the
buffing/smoothing. And that's it! You're finished!
*You will need a fill about every two weeks depending on your
nail growth rate.