Saturday, April 27, 2013

Manicure/nail care tips (hurr hurr pun)

This is an amalgamation of tips, tricks and techniques I have learned from a wide variety of other bloggers. Don't take it as gospel, this is the stuff that works for my nails, budget and lifestyle. It's a good starting point if you don't know much about nail care. I will provide some links to more experienced and thorough posts at the bottom - so if you're already a nail junkie just skip to the end!
Right now my nails are the longest, and probably the strongest they've ever been. I've changed my whole routine in regards to my nails. Here's the low-down:

 Cutting, filing, etc
  • Nail clippers are for toe nails and hang nails! If you like having shorter nails, then you may want to clip them every once in a while. However, if you have the patience, filing is much gentler on your nails and allows far more control over the shape.
  • When you do file, do your general shaping with a cardboard emery board. Unless your nails are hard as rocks, a metal nail file can actually do a lot of damage.
  • All nicely shaped and smoothed? Do your fine-tuning with a glass or crystal nail file. Yes, these buggers are very expensive compared to your standard emery board, but they provide a super-smooth edge and do the least amount of damage to the nail. When you have your desired shape it's very easy to maintain with just a glass file. Plus if you manage not to break or lose them, they last much longer than emery boards.
  • If you need to buff, use a buffing block, not a file and be very sparing. NEVER file the top of your nail if you can avoid it.
  • Get some cuticle oil and some hand cream. Apply both as often as possible! An oil-rich hand cream is best, but if you don't like your mitts feeling greasy, a lighter cream is definitely better than nothing. Healthy cuticles are essential to healthy nails. I swear by Palmers Olive Butter with Vitamin E concentrated cream.
  • I don't personally push, trim or remove my cuticles but that's just because mine are super fragile. See the links at the end of the post if you want info on that.
  • DON'T soak your nails, and don't clip/file them just out of the shower or after doing dishes. Your nails are in a weak state when they're waterlogged and it's easy to damage. Wait until they're nice and dry before doing anything other than moisturise.

picture from
Because my nails are quite different shapes, I can't pull off squared nails, even though it seems to be a popular shape among nail bloggers (and looks amazing when done right). The almond shape suits my hands and camouflages oddly-shaped nails. It also prevents breaks in the side wall becoming an issue - I get a lot of those. You don't have to stick to one shape, either - do square one month and round the next! Experiment as often as you like. See what you prefer the look and feel of.

  • The most effective type of nail polish removers contain acetone. However, you will need to moisturise after using it because it dries the skin out quite severely. Make sure you're in a ventilated area too!
  • Don't peel your nail polish off. I know it's tempting, but whenever you do, you also pull away bits of your nail, making the nail bed weaker. Not good!
  • If you have problem nails, consider buying a treatment base coat - something that will harden/hydrate/whiten your nails even as you wear polish. I'm currently using Gelous Advanced Nail Gel Coat. I've noticed a huge improvement in the strength of my nails. This is because it contains formaldehyde, one of the 'big 3' nail polish ingredients. Read about the issues with formaldehyde in Lad Muffin's excellent Big 3 series here
  • Fast dry top coats make your manicures last longer and eliminate dry time. I don't paint my nails without it any more! I use either Revlon Quick Dry or CND Speedey.
  • Get a thin paint or eyeshadow brush and designate it for nails only. If you're a messy painter, you can dip this brush in nail polish remover and use it to get that clean, sharp edge on your polish. Works fine for getting polish out of cuticles too - just be sure to moisturise afterwards!

Anatomy of the nail 
Teabagging (repairing a broken nail)
DIY nail polish remover
Cutting cuticles
File guide
"Big 3" nail polish ingredients
Foil method for removing glitter polish


  1. Ahh thank you... I have clearly been doing more harm than good with some of my bad habits.

    1. Honestly, some stuff is very individual - it depends on what your nail problems are. My issues are splitting and peeling, so I find being very gentle with my nails, keeping them hydrated and using a strengthening base coat keeps them in good condition. Some people have naturally strong nails, can use any type of file with no repercussions and only moisturize to keep their cuticles nice! Nails are just like skin types, once you find out yours, you can better figure out what works for you :)

  2. Great tips :) I wish I could do square nails but I just seem to have a mental block whenever I try to do them that way and they end up rounded!

    1. One tip I didn't include, that Loodie recommends, is shaping your nails with polish on. Maybe that will help you 'ignore' your natural shape? I know that a lot of bloggers like Loodie or even Scrangie have rounded smile lines on their nails but shape them square!

  3. Great tip :) I'm terrible and cannot stop peeling my polish off. Naughty me!

  4. GREAT POST! I suck at nails. Thank you for bringing up that Gelous base coat, last year I actually got my nails to grow to a decent length and kept them looking really nice. This year, they seem to break every two seconds. The difference? I stopped using that base coat for a different one. I didn't realize it helps to harden the nails but it all makes sense now!

    1. I have a full post on Gelous coming up. It's a really underrated product!


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