Nail Care

So it took me a bit of time to decide whether or not to write this post.  I figure who wants to read a mile long page of text, right? But I've gotten quite a few questions regarding nail care and the like so if I can help somebody out there, it'll be worth all the rambling that I'm about to do. I tried separating everything into sections with noted titles so feel free to skip to the parts you like or read it the whole way through or even be like "eff this!" and skip it altogether. Alright, you ready? Let's go!*

  • I probably get most of my questions on this. My biggest piece of advice? Moisturize. Do it. In fact, do it right now. Go. I can wait. 
  • Oh wait. I'm supposed to be giving you advice on what to use. My bad. 
  • These bullet points are supposed to make things easier to read by narrowing down the important info. I am pretty much abusing them and I haven't even started getting into the nitty gritty of it all. My bad again.
  • Seriously now, there are a few products you can use for moisturizing your cuticles:
    • Cuticle oil: I use this myself. My HG is Mango Magic from Sally's. There are also others out there like CND Solar Cuticle Oil.
    • Cuticle cream/gel/balm: Popular ones are Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, Lemony Flutter from Lush Cosmetics, and Mango Mend from Sally's.
    • Extra virgin olive oil: good for you, inside AND out.
    • Homemade oil: Self-explanatory. Frankly, this sounds like too much trouble for me but if you are the creative type, feel free to mix your own. Ingredients can include any mixture of oils including EVOO and extracts such as sweet almond and the like. You can look online for other "recipes".
    • Nipple cream: Oh whaaaat? Yeah, nipple cream. Specifically Lanolin (Lansinoh brand). This stuff is like magic! Great for overnight application.
    • Vaseline: Can't this stuff be used for practically anything?? Also great for overnight application.
    • Hand lotion: Last resort if you really really don't have anything.
  • It's always handy to keep an extra cuticle moisturizing product in your purse. Moisturize when you're bored, moisturize your friends, moisturize your boyfriends, just moisturize whoever you can. They'll love you for it.**
  • Apply freely and frequently! Rub it in and around the cuticles. Don't forget the undersides of your nails as well. Be liberal with your application.
  • Please don't cut/pick/bite your precious cuticles. No matter how tempted you are, just... don't. There must be a reason why we call them "cutes" for short, right? If you're pickin' and proddin' at 'em, they ain't gonna be so cute no' mo' (wow, look at all that apostrophe usage!).
  • Cuticle upkeep:
    • 1x a week, use cuticle remover (shouldn't do this too often):
    •  Cuticle pushing tools:
      • I use an orange stick, just resharpen with a metal file when it gets dull. One stick = a million uses.
      • You can also use a curette (but I don't really recommend metal tools on your nails unless you are SUPER duper careful, too much room for user error = nail damage on this I think).
    • Don't push your cuticles too far back! Be gentle my friends, gentle.
  • Moisturize
  • Here's an awesome video by the wonderful Miss Loodie on cuticle removal.

  • First of all, if you're a nail biter...stop. Step away from your nails. I repeat, step away from your nails. I have never been one but here is an article that may help you with that problem. If anything, you can scare yourself shitless by taking a look at this picture and this picture. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  • Brittle/dry nails break easily so... you guessed it, moisturize
  • Some people find that taking Biotin helps. Biotin is a vitamin that helps with nails, hair, and skin. You can read this article for more information. I've heard of people taking upwards of 5000mcg (read: that is MICROgrams, not milligrams. That is a 1000-fold difference. If you don't know what this means... well... it's a crap load, let's just say that.) a day. I don't know the specifics of this so please, do your research.
  • Nail treatments to help with growth:
    • Instant Artificials: Adds a thick layer for increased strength during growth.
    • Gelous: Same as above. However, I've heard of gelous giving some girls peelies =(. That's a huge no-no so if it doesn't work for you as a strengthener, you can always use it for hungry glitters (refer to polish application section below).
    • I've also heard good things about Qtica Natural Nail Growth Stimulator and OPI Nail Envy.
    • Brands like Barielle and Nailtek usually have treatments designed to target specific problems. 
  • Be aware of labor intensive activities that involve your hands. Or rather, any activities that involve your hands. Sometimes, you end up with the worse breaks in the stupidest of situations (i.e. smacking your hand on a shopping cart or pulling out a shower knob that feels stuck GRRR). Wear gloves when you can! 
  • Keep them polished! Layers of polish add strength to nails and therefore allow you to grow them longer. This is an awesome thing!
  • For some of us, nails will curl and break when grown to a certain length no matter what we do. Take a cue from your own body -- don't grow them out too long if they tend to do this! We are all different and some of us are just blessed with the natural ability to grow thick and strong nails with rarely ever a break... lucky beezies. Doesn't matter though. Love thyself.
  • Don't go in with unrealistic expectations. You will definitely be able to grow your nails out if you take the right steps in doing so but the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for disappointment. With that said, sometimes a simple change in certain daily routines is all it takes to make the difference.

  • So once you're able to grow out your nails, the next thing is to be able to get them to your ideal length and shape, you should try a variety of different shapes to see what works best for you. Refer to this post from Lacquerized for nail shapes. I personally love the square or squoval shape because those are easiest for me to maintain. They also work well for my own nail shape as I have uneven C-curves that make it really hard to get nice looking oval or rounded nails. (I really did try! Those shapes just hate me.)
  • I highly highly highly advise against actual cutting/clipping of nails. This can cause micro tears that will lead to easier breakage over time. Instead, I suggest to use a file! What kind of file(s)?
    • Glass/crystal files: Great for general filing. Lasts for-evuh. Good for emergency breaks (keep one in my purse). Nailtek file FTW.
    • Grit files: Comes in varying grades. The lower the number, the rougher the grit. Use different files for taking down length, shaping, and sealing.
    • Buffing blocks: For general smoothing and sealing. 
    • A more in depth look at files found here.
  • How to file your nails? Honestly, Loodie's blog is the nail care bible. Allow me to direct you to this filing series guide. Practically a treasure trove of information at your fingertips. No need for me to repeat/change anything that's already been detailed there. If it ain't broke...
  • One thing I will emphasize is the importance of "sealing the edge"
    •  This basically means to buff and shine the edges of your nails, essentially creating a smooth surface to "seal" it from potential breaks. Brilliant? I think so. 
  • If you're more of a visual learner, watch this video.
  • One last thing: Don't you DARE file your nails when they're wet. That's just asking for trouble.

  • What? You can repair nails? But how? Yeah, this was news to me when I first started out too. 
  • For repairing minor nicks and mini tears:
    • Middle of the nail nicks: A most excellent post on Orly Nail Rescue by Sarah of Chalkboard Nails.
    • Side tears: The teabag method (teeheehee. why yes, I am 12 years old, thank you for asking) detailed by The Nail Buff here. Video by MissChievous here. Teabag! Whodathunkit??
    • Silk wraps: Same concept as the teabag method using store bought products like this.
    • Shellac Fix: Detailed here by none other than the fantabulous (this is a word because I said so) Loodie.
    • Worse comes to worst, you can always file down to the damage (the horror!) and grow out your nails. I know I know, this is not what you wanted to hear. But girl... shit just got real.
  • I've gotten acrylics 2 times in my entire life. First time was for prom (stupid teenager!) and second time was because I wanted to be stupid again (Trying to relive my youth? I don't know. Shut up.). After taking them off, I promised myself never to get them ever again! For repairing damage from acrylics/fake nails:
    • Okay, you have to accept the fact that the damage caused by fake nails need to grow out. This can take months. Relax, at least it's not permanent damage. Eat a sandwich. Read a book. Just don't stare and think about your nails all the time.
      • Please refer to the nail growth section above!
    • Remember to keep your nails moisturized during this sensitive period. But really, I can't even think of a time when you shouldn't keep them moisturized...
  • Replace your fixes every several manis in. Don't want it to start looking janky 'naw mean? This includes damage of both the nicks/tears and the fake nails variety.
  • Keep in mind that when you do have repairs, it is suggested to use non-acetone removers as those that do contain acetone will dissolve/destroy your fixes. 

  • Before you remove any polish, file your nails! Huh? But why would I want to do that? Well, because having polish already on your nails will give you a better sense of how they'll look like once you've filed them down. =)
  • Polish removal: 
    • "Regular" polish remover: I have used Onyx Moisturizing Polish Remover, Beauty Secrets Polish Remover and various other drug store removers.
    • Pure acetone remover: Onyx Maximum Strength 100% Acetone. Not advised to use this for normal removal (very drying). Great for clean up and glitter removal though!
      • Foil method: Freaking awesome post by PinkSith.
      • Felt: Cut square pieces of this stuff and use for glitter removal. Doesn't break down like a cotton ball.
    • Non-acetone removers: There are plenty out there. The only one I've tried is Butter London Powder Room Polish Remover which smells like pickles and baby powder. Gross. Why am I even suggesting it? I'm not. Tell me if you know a good non-acetone remover that won't obliterate my sense of smell when I barely twist open the cap.
    • Zoya Remove+: A popular remover among polish lovers. You can also make your own using Loodie's recipe found here.
    • Even though it's tempting, try to resist from peeling off your polish! There is potential there for taking off layers of your natural nail. We're trying to keep them from being damaged here!
  • Cuticle removal (see above)
  • What I like to do immediately after washing my hands from cuticle removal is to scrub around the nail with a toothbrush and some handsoap. As stated in Loodie's video, it helps stimulate nail growth AND it just feels so fresh and so clean clean.
  • If your nails are yellow/discolored/stained (due to POLISH, not some type of infection):
    • Whitening toothpaste! Seriously. Leave it on your nails for a bit and scrub. Should help a good bit.
    • I've heard that soaking nails in denture tablets work in helping to reduce stains.
    • Sometimes, a shower with naked nails surprisingly gets rid of the problem. =)
    • Check out this website for additional home remedies.
    • As a last ditch effort, if nothing works...and I mean nothing, you can LIGHTLY buff out the stains. Not good to do this on a regular basis as you're essentially taking off layers of the nail.
  • Use a cotton pad and q-tip to remove any residual dirt/oils and clean up any leftover polish on and under your nails.
  • You are ready to start polishing your nails! w00t.

  • Go to the bathroom first! I can't tell you how many times... no wait, you don't wanna know...
  • Wear a head band, tie back your hair. Cuz gurl, that shizz is annoying.
  • Before you even begin, make sure the bottles of polish have already been well mixed. It's completely fine to shake up your bottle as long as enough time has elapsed for air bubbles to disappear (I'd say give it 15-30 mins -- you can do this ahead of time and go do whatever else). Otherwise, rolling the bottle between the palm of your hands should be fine if you are polishing soon after.
  • Types of polishes:
    • Base Coat: I love CND Stickey. I say experiment with this as there are quite a few out there.
    • Top Coat: My HG is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat hands down. I've always heard good things about Poshe Super-Fast Drying Top Coat and NYC Grand Central Station Quick Dry Top Coat, especially regarding the incompatibility of Zoya & Seche Vite for some.
    • Regular polish: While some polishes may just need a few drops of thinner, not all polishes will work for everyone. No matter how hard we want it to work, sometimes certain brands are just teh suckz0rz when it comes to application (see --> bubbling, chipping, application-from-hell type of results). It's okay, just ditch em. There are far too many fabulous polishes out there to have a poo poo attitude about one or two that won't work for you.
    • Glitter/flakie/finicky polish (pretty much any "hard to work with" polishes): 
      • Usually I do the "dabbing method" demonstrated by More Nail Polish in this post and video.
      • Glitter polishes usually end up bumpy and gross looking. An easy fix is to top off with 2 coats of gelous (to even out the "hungry" glitters) and finish off with a quick dry, high shine top coat. I'm lookin' at you Seche Vite *pets her pretty*
  • Actual polish application:
    • Depending on what polish "position" works best for you (certain ways give people better control):
      • If you like to paint away from you, I suggest this video from MissChievous. Skip to the 9:30 mark for the application (but you can still watch the entire video if you're interested in her advice on doing a general manicure).
      • If you like to paint towards you, I suggest this post and video from Lucy's Stash.
    • I actually start out painting with my non-dominant hand. This makes it easier to avoid smudging when I am polishing using my dominant hand while it's drying. I'm clumsy as hell. If I can do it, you can too. Yes, I get my lines from infomercials. Shamwow baby.
    • Don't forget to wrap your tips to reduce chippage (I like this better than chipping, I don't know why). This is a great post from The Polished Perfectionist.
  • Polish clean up (because I don't care if you are the son of Zeus or everyone sees you as the pinnacle of perfection, there's no way you can polish all 10 fingers flawlessly every. single. time.):
  • Quick dry top coats are great for fast drying times but there are also sprays you can use like this Beauty Secrets Nail Polish Dryer that can be found at Sally's.
  • Don't forget to moisturize after!
  • Extending your manicure, one of two options I am familiar with:
    •  Don't use quick dry top coats on a dry manicure. Instead, re-polish with gelous (or any other clear polish) first then add Seche Vite after.
    • Use Barielle Manicure Extender.
  • Have fun! It actually doesn't take very long to paint my nails. I do it several hours before going to bed while watching tv or listening to music. They call me Captain Multitask. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. After all, practice makes perfect right? Yeah, I know... I hate cliches as much as the next person*** but really... the more you do your nails, the better you'll be at it. I promise.****

  • Honestly, there is such a wealth of information on Loodie's blog that it would be a sin against humanity for me not to advise you to check it out. So check it out, bro!
  • Take care of your body. Overall health can also be reflected in your nails.
  • Drink lots of water. Good for the body. Good for the soul. This is just a good thing in general.
  • I feel like I should have a list of do's and dont's. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. 
    • DO'S
      • Do moisturize (cuticles in specific and hands in general). Am I starting to sound like a broken record yet?
      • Do wear gloves when you can
      • Do keep all nail tools clean (ideally after every use!)
      • Do take pride in your nails. You are faaaabulous daaaahling =D
    • DONT's
      • Don't use your nails as tools (they are not extensions of your fingers!)
      • Don't use metal tools
      • Don't cut (trimming hang nails is okay)
      • Don't overuse pure acetone
      • Don't ignore inflammation or redness
      • Don't pick under your nails
      • Don't pick at your cuticles
      • Don't pick at hangnails
      • Stop it, why are you picking at crap. Seriously, don't pick. Period. Do I need to slap your hands? Oh, cuz I will. Don't tempt me. Serious business here.

A few last notes. If all this information seems overwhelming at first, don't panic. Before you know it, it'll be like second nature to you. As with all things, time and patience are key.  It's also good to keep in mind that everyone is different. Body chemistry is a huge factor that plays into whether a certain product will work well or crash and burn for you. My suggestion is to try a broad range of products to see what works best for you. Experiment. You only live once. Umm, variety is the spice of life? I'm grasping at straws here. Just do it dammit.

Okay! Whew, that was nuts. I tried to include everything I could think of. I'm no expert but I thought to myself, "if I was a newb at nails (not that long ago actually), what kind of information would I like to know? What information should I know that wouldn't even occur to me when starting out?" So yeah, I tried to include all of that in this one epic post. I hope this actually does end up helping some of you out there. If not, you're not allowed to sue me. Thanks for reading guys -- and I definitely mean it this time. If you even got halfway through, you deserve a cookie. Go on. Treat yo' self (I never said I was providing the cookies).

P.S. I am leaving this page open for comments. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like. Also, don't be afraid to add/suggest more advice. I will update the page when and if I see necessary. I will also try to answer any questions/concerns you have to the best of my ability! See, top notch customer service right there. I accept payment in polish form thank you very much. ^_^

* I'm lazy and pretty much suck at tutorials so my references will be linked to really awesome sources that I've used myself for help.
** No guarantees on whether they will really love you for it. In fact, you might get some really strange looks. I cannot be blamed.
*** I actually love cliches.
**** I can make no such promises. What am I, a wizard? But honestly, I think you'll be better than the first time you've ever applied polish so cheers to that!


Kristen said...

You are HILARIOUS! This probably was the funniest nail care post I've ever read! So thorough and I actually paused and moisturized my cuticles when you mentioned it the first time! I'm so guilty of picking at my cuticles! They seem to peel like onions, which absolutely drives me UP THE WALL but hey, I'm sure all of us 'naturals' fight something with regards to our nails. & I learned something new about the orange sticks! Silly me was just throwing them away after ONE use, wondering - why do people prefer these again?? So thanks for the informative info!

Jello Kitty said...

@Kristen - Wow, I can't believe you read the whole thing! I'm so glad you enjoyed it =P. I know how hard it is NOT to pick at the cuticles sometimes, I am also guilty ><. It's okay though, as long as you can curb the bad habits into a good direction, I think anything is fixable! I know I sound like a freaking preppy cheerleader about it all but I think anyone can have beautiful nails - honest =). So glad I could also help you with the orange stick sitch! Thanks again for reading! Makes me feel good to know people are finding this helpful!

Fabienne said...

Hi there! Thanks very much for this nice post. I actually read it all, looking for advice to prevent or fight peeling nails. My nails are weak and peel off at the tips. So they never grow long. Would you have any advice? I know its important to wear gloves when doing dishes and that nails are not a "tool". But that doesn't help me neither:(
Thank you very much!!!

Jello Kitty said...

@Fabienne - If your nails specifically peel off at the tips, I would suggest that you "seal off the free edge" often. I believe this will help quite a bit in reducing the possibility of peeling. As far as the general nail is concerned, you might want to try a different base coat (some base coats cause peelies!) and make sure to apply a nail treatment prior to applying said base coat. Nailtek has a few that have worked for some. You might want to try Nailtek Intensive Therapy for peeling nails: or similar products that will condition your nails back to a healthy state. I would definitely look into changing the base coat though. Often times, that's the culprit. I hope it works out! =)

Fabienne said...

Hi Jamie!
Thank you sooo much! Fortunatelly its only the tips which peel and not the whole nail. You wrote I should "seal off the free edge often". What does that mean exactly? I'm not a native English speaker, maybe that's the reason why I don't understand this sentence.
Thanky in advance!!

Jello Kitty said...

@Fabienne - If the peelies are at your tips, sometimes it helps to buff out the peelies with a four-sided buffing block using the one with the lowest grit. You can then smooth out your tips and edges (the end and both sides of the nail) with the smoothest side to a shine. This essentially creates a "seal" as to prevent your nails from peeling in the future. Also, make sure you get a lot of moisture both in the form of cuticle treatment and drinking lots of water too. It would probably be a good idea to invest in a treatment that helps with your overall nail care. =)

Anonymous said...

Thank you... i needed the inside scoop!!! I learned alot...and laughed too! Ya know what product has helped my peeling nails??? Nailtiques #2. Great stuff!!

Christine Hale said...

Loved reading this post and all your references and links~ with a smile. I'm moisturizing right now.



Ev said...

I love this post! It's really helpful and reading it is a pleasure :) Thank you@

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