Lesson Six: Hand and nail care.
WARNING: The naked nails you are about to see are terribly stained and may cause dizziness or vomiting.
This is by no means a "by the book" manicure, but it is how I do my nails and care for my hands and cuticles. I have tried a lot of different products and procedures and this is the one that has held up and become my go to routine.
To start out I want to stress the importance of DRY nails. I have done the whole "soak your nails" thing and it basically does nothing but weaken your nails and hinder their ability to absorb the products we are going to put on them. We want our nails to be dry and at their full strength through the filing and buffing process to prevent breaks. We also want them to be nice and dry so they can suck up all the lotiony goodness we will be slathering them in.
To start my routine I like to set up a nice area to do my nails at. It makes me feel professional and cool. When I feel that way I tend to do a more thorough and better job. So, set up a cute little station and let's get rolling.
I use these particular products.-
- A THICK lotion meant specifically for nails/manicures
- A bright light
- A buffer block
- non acetone polish remover, usually one that says either "strengthening" or "protein enriched".
- A nail file (not pictured)
- a terry cloth rag or towel
- normal hand lotion.
The first thing I do is buff my nails. I use a 3 way buffer block but almost never use all 3 sides. I just use the roughest side and give my nails a quick buff, don't worry about accidentally buffing your cuticles it wont hurt them. I like to leave my nails just barely buffed like this because I find they break a lot less if I leave slight ridges in them. Also, buffing your nails until super shiny by using all 3 sides of the buffer block makes polish chip easier and IMO lets your nails become stained easier. If you really hate ridges I recommend a ridge filling base coat.
Time to file! I only file my nails about once a month or when I feel a snag or get a break. An important rule to filing is to NEVER file the sides of your nails. Filing the sides will weaken your nails and allow them to bend and break easier. Not to mention if you never file anything but the tips of your nails your nail shape will always stay uniform as your nails grow. The only exception to this is if you have a snag on the sidewall of your nail, in this case only file the bare minimum amount to smooth the snag.
Once my nails are all buffed and filed I slather my cuticles in my thick manicure lotion. Make sure you fill your entire "cuticle gap" so it looks like your nails are outlined in lotion. I let this sit about 5 mins.
This is BY FAR the most important step of my routine. Instead of pushing my cuticles back with a tool I push them back as I remove my lotion. What I do is use a terry cloth rag and using a good amount of pressure rub off all the lotion, pushing back toward my cuticles as well as in a side to side motion. Really get in there and rub the lotion into your cuticles with the cloth. This will push them back and remove any dead skin that might be there, as well as make them super soft.
Once you have finished removing your lotion/pushing your cuticles it's time to prep for polish. I just use the same terry cloth rag and swipe my nails with non acetone remover. Just a quick swipe on each nail to remove any residue.
Next, I apply a base coat. In this case I'm using "yellow out" base coat, because my nails are terribly stained. Take care when applying any type of polish to avoid getting any on your cuticles.
Time to paint! Do your best to avoid contact between the polish and your newly soft and manicured cuticles. Once your polish is dry apply a small amount of regular hand lotion and you're done!