Argan oil, Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, manicure, nail care, nail color, nail polish, Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat, Sally Hansen, Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover, Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil, Seche Vite, Seche Vite top coat
I post a lot of nail polish reviews – you may have noticed! 🙂 This week I thought I would share my overall nail care approach and the steps I take when doing my weekly manicure.
I’ve had enough salon manicures to pay attention and remember what they do so that I can mostly replicate it at home. Step 1 is always to remove the prior week’s nail color. Some weeks I remove the old polish a full day before I plan to do my new manicure, to give my nails a little breathing room. But there are weeks when I remove and re-apply on the same day. I use an acetone-based remover, which is hard on my nails, but necessary to remove glitter polish, which I wear about half the time. I often give my nails a quick once-over with a non-acetone remover after the polish is gone.
Step 2 is to file my nails down to a reasonable length. I spend a lot of time typing, and long nails just get in my way, so I keep them fairly short. I used to use nail clippers, but I almost always ended up clipping my nails too short, and I was having problems with split nails. So now I just file. I use a fairly rough emery board to really hack them down, being careful not to saw back and forth, because that can weaken nails and also lead to splitting.
Step 3 is to re-file my nails with a metal file to clean up any jagged edges. I also pry up any nail debris that’s been caught on the underside of my nails and file that off.
In Step 4 I apply Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover gel to the cuticles of one hand and soak that hand in a small bowl of very warm water for about three minutes. After soaking, I use the nail of a finger on the opposite hand to push back the cuticles on the soaked hand, then give that hand a thorough rinse under cool water to remove the rest of the gel.
After drying my hands, Step 5 involves *carefully* scraping and trimming any dead cuticle tissue. I use the orange-handled tool pictured above to scrape off any residue. Then I use the trimmers to cut away detritus. I then repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other hand.
At that point, I’m ready for polish. I always use base coat, and lately I’ve been absolutely loving the Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat. It provides good coverage, dries quickly, and has just a hint of tackiness to help the nail color adhere to your nail.
After two coats of color, I seal everything with a coat of top coat. My go-to top coat these days is Seche Vite, which is ironic, given how hard I try to avoid chemicals in my nail color. Seche Vite definitely contains toluene (one of the five ingredients that “five-free” polishes do NOT contain), and it has a strong chemical smell. I’m careful to use it near ventilation and to not get it on my skin as I apply it. And with three coats of other products between it and my nails, I figure it’s probably not seeping in that way either. It’s worth it to me, because it dramatically reduces the length of drying time. And as a consumer, the amounts of toluene are far below (really far below) the amounts deemed harmful. (Nail techs working with it all day…now that’s a different story.)
I used to use a quick-dry finishing spray, but with Seche Vite (which means “Dry Quickly” in French) I don’t need to. I also stopped using the quick-dry spray when I accidentally ruined a manicure with it. Pro tip: don’t use it with specialized top coats, like Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat or CND Vinylux top coat. It destroys the shiny finish!
For ongoing maintenance, I apply either cuticle oil or cuticle balm before bed, and I always apply hand cream before bed and after washing my hands throughout the day. I like Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil, or just plain Argan oil.
From the time I start removing last week’s polish to the time the top coat is applied is about 45-50 minutes. The Orly Bonder is great because by the time I finish applying it to the second hand, the first hand is dry and ready for color. I leave a few minutes between my two coats of color. And I leave about 5-10 minutes between my second coat of color and the top coat. I like to make sure the color is set so I don’t accidentally get color onto the top coat brush and into the top coat bottle.