Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Nail care: tips and tricks :)

As you have probably noticed if you've seen any of my NOTD posts, my nails are never in quite the best condition they can be- I'm not sure why as they've always been like that (I think I was just 'blessed' with bad nails...) but I've recently been on a serious mission to make them better (and fingers crossed, it seems to be working!) so I thought I'd share my new-found 'knowledge' with you all :)

My basic nail care routine:

1) Remove nail polish
I generally just use whatever nail polish remover I have to hand; perhaps I should care more about using an acetone free one, but I always wash my hand thoroughly (to remove remover residue) and moisturise my nails afterwards anyway, so I don't see it as too much of an issue.

2) Cuticle care
Cuticles are there to protect the skin under the nail from infection, so although removing the excess is important for healthy nails (nail growth is slowed down by having long/overgrown cuticles) you must never push them back too far! I like to soak my nails in a little warm water, then use either of these cuticle softeners before pushing them back (very gently and carefully) with a cuticle pusher. I prefer the rubber-tipped ones to the orange sticks, as I find them a lot softer.

If you wish, you can also use a cuticle removal tool (aka, weapon of torture) to take off excess cuticles around the nail. I only use this on really really dry icky bits, as I think this tool is a little harsh and can be quite damaging (it's quite easy to accidentally break the skin, leaving it prone to infection- plus it looks horrid!)

Cuticle Pusher

Cuticle softeners

Cuticle trimmer
3) File and buff
I cannot stand having nicks or really wonky, uneven nails, so I usually file them whenever I need to (I always have an emery board on me, there is probably one in every room in the house, and at least 2 in my bag...) but it's also important to make sure they are properly shaped (I prefer oval nails) partly from an aesthetic point of view, but also to help your nails grow stronger and more evenly. Make sure you only file your nails gently in ONE direction, filing from side-to-side will damage the nails tips, and can cause more peeling, splitting and breakage. I've heard great things about glass files, and one day I may invest in one, but for now I'm happy with the standard emery boards (and mine is pink!)

Nail polish adheres better to a smooth surface, so getting rid of the ridges in your nails is important, plus it will get rid of any peeling flakes too. I love the 4-way buffers (this one was part of a 4 pack from the poundshop, and works just as well as the one I paid about £2 for in Boots) as I find them really easy to use, and they give very good results. Remember not to use this too often though- if you buff too often the nails can become thin and even more prone to damage- I usually do mine about every other week (sometimes less, depending on the condition of my nails at the time)

My 4-way buffer and emery board

4) Moisturise!!!
I don't think I can stress enough how important moisturising the cuticles and nails is for healthy nails- nails are essentially dead skin and cannot really moisturise itself like skin and hair (which have oil glands to provide moisture) and having dried out nails is the main cause of peeling, hangnails and general poor condition (it's no real surprise I have problems with under-moisturised nails considering how dry my skin is!)

I've had the e.l.f. Nourishing Cuticle Pen for several years, and it's still going strong (absolutely no sign of drying out) it contains Almond, Grape Seed, Aloe Vera and Avocado oils, as well as vitamins A, C and E- lots of lovely ingredients- and the felt-tip-pen applicator makes it really easy to use (nice and precise for when I'm still wearing polish too) and mess free.

e.l.f. Nourishing Cuticle Pen, and Rescue Oil.

I recently bought Rescue Oil (which I excitedly posted about here) and realised that a lot of the ingredients (Peach, Almond and Evening Primrose oils) are similar to those of the e.l.f. cuticle pen, so I've been using it a lot to massage onto my bare nails, and I really like it, obviously it's little messier than the pen, but it works well at moisturising my nails, cuticles and fingertips :)

I know I've raved about this before, but the Neutrogena concentrated hand cream really got my hands through last weeks Brownie Pack Holiday- it's very rich and relieves even the driest of skin (it even works really well on the patch of eczema I have on my hand) I've taken to putting some all over my hands and cuticle just before bed every night- and I always wake up to soft and moisturised hands, and now I'm tempted to buy some of those cotton gloves to sleep in :)

Another important nail care tip is to have a 'rest' from nail polish once in a while- I like to remove my nail polish in the evening, give myself a manicure with lots of moisturisers, then leave them bare until the next morning when I'll paint them- this gives my nails some time to take in all the moisture and lets them 'breathe' a little between polishing :)

What are your nail care tips and tricks?


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