Regular readers of this little blog will know about my undeniable nail obsession. I’m often asked how I care for my nails so I thought it was about time I wrote a post on my favourite tools and products for looking after my nails. Before I get started I just want to stress that I’m by no means an expert, this is just what I’ve learnt and the products I enjoy using. From the number of products and tools photographed it might look like I spend hours caring for my nails but in all honesty my routine is fairly simple and I probably spend more time deciding what nail polish I want to wear next than caring for my nails! Most of the time, I look after my nails myself. But on the days where I decide to treat myself, a trip to the salon is generally exciting. I mean, if a lot of the salons I have previously been to improve customer care amongst their staff, maybe I would consider visiting them a lot more. But for now, I’m happy with doing this on my own.
Trimming, Filing and Shaping
I like to file my nails to the correct length rather than trim them using nail clippers or scissors because I find that I can be much more accurate. I’ve had my Champney’s Glass Nail File over a year now and it’s still just as good as the day I brought it so I’m a firm believer that it’s worth investing in a good quality glass nail file. I also have the Sally Hansen Sapphire File which I’d also recommend – this has quite a coarse texture so it’s good for the filing down to the right length stage. I then use my glass nail file, which has a very fine texture, to finish off. I aim for a squoval shape – a square shape with slightly rounded edges as it’s my favourite look and some of my nails grow to that shape naturally.
I also like to use a 4 Step Buffer Block. I like to use step 2 a couple of times a month to even ridges on the surface of my nails, followed by side 3 and 4 to smooth and shine the surface. If I’m not wearing any polish I’ll use step 4 on its own for a natural shine.
Cuticles and Moisturising
My cuticles don’t tend to need much work but when they do need something to soften and moisturise them I like to use Sally Hansen’s Salon Manicure Cuticle Eraser and Balm. I wouldn’t say this product erases cuticles but it does a great job at softening them. I have also found that it’s always useful to have some wooden Cuticle Sticks for gently pushing cuticles back.
On the rare occasion that I have a torn hangnail I use Sally Hansen’s Ultra Fine Cuticle Scissors to cut as close as possible to prevent it catching and pulling further.
I think moisturising makes a huge difference to overall hand and nail health as it helps to keep the nail bed supple. Throughout the day I tend to use Aveeno Hand Cream as it’s very fast absorbing. Overnight, I like to use something more intensive such as E45 Repair and Protect Overnight Hand Cream.
Base Coats and Top Coats
My favourite base coats are in fact nail treatments and I don’t think I’d ever go back to using a base coat that doesn’t have additional benefits to preventing staining and providing an even base. Nails Inc A and E Nourishing Base Coat contains protein and vitamins to promote healthy nails and Nail HQ All In One Nail Treatment contains argan oil and replenishing minerals to prevent breakage and help condition and strengthen. I have found that both treatments work to moisturise and improve the condition of my nails to prevent splitting and breakages.
Although not really anything to do with nail care I had to include top coats in this post as they are an essential step to my routine and really help to prolong my manicures. My favourites are Sally Hansen Diamond Flash Fast Dry Top Coat and Nails Inc Albert Bridge 45 Second Speed Dry Top Coat – both speed up the drying process, prevent chipping and add a high gloss finish.
More recently I have started paying close attention to the products I use for removing my nail polish, particularly trying to avoid acetone as it can be very drying. My current favourite nail polish remover is The Body Shop’s Almond Oil Nail Varnish which is slightly on the expensive side but has the added benefit of a gentle formula and also softens cuticles. It works just as well as any nail polish remover I’ve used and lasts me a good 3-4 months. I also quite like the Ciaté London Fragranced Nail Polish Remover Pots which has similar benefits (although I can’t quite smell the chocolate mint!). For any mistakes I like to use the Ciaté London Corrector Pen which does a great job of clearing any mess around the nail bed.
Top Tips for Healthy Nails
- Only file nails in one direction
- Don’t buff your nails too often
- Don’t get acrylic nails as they can cause damage, instead choose sns nails
- Ditch picking or biting your nails
- Don’t be embarrassed if you think you have an infection, check out sites like txhealthpool.org that have done reviews on products that can help you
- Don’t pick off your nail polish
- Avoid using your nails as a tool
- Use a nail treatment as a base coat
- Use acetone-free nail polish remover
- Wear rubber gloves when cleaning or washing up
- Keep a nail file handy for emergencies
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
Well done for making it to the end of this longer than usual post, I really hope you’ve found it useful! What products do you like to use to care for your nails?
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