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Nail tips

I’ve been painting my nails in earnest since the summer of 2012, so I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve also spent many an hour researching on the internet and watching “how-to” videos. It’s been a steep learning curve with some things. Hopefully some of these nail tips may help anyone just starting out.

Things I’ve learned

  • Basecoat. Always use a basecoat. All sorts of dark or strongly pigmented colours can stain your nails. Some polishes will even stain through a basecoat, so some people (me included) wear a base coat of clear gel polish.
  • Top coat. Equally, always use a top coat. It makes your manicure more shiny and gives added protection from chips. If you use a quick-drying top coat, you can pretty much carry on with your day once you’ve finished your manicure, rather than waiting an hour or more for it to dry and harden.
  • Smudges. If you dink your nail before it’s dry and get a smudge, then gently rub the area with your tongue and it will smooth it out.  Depending on the polish used, I’ve sometimes been able to recover a smudge so that you wouldn’t even think it had happened.
  • Nail clean up. Don’t worry if you splodge some polish onto your skin or cuticles. It’s easy to clean up using a small make up brush dipped in acetone.
  • Polish remover. Add glycerin to your pure acetone to limit the drying effects on your cuticles. There’s some great information on Wacky Laki’s post about how to do this.
  • Remover pads. Lint-free nail polish remover wipes do a much better job of polish removal than cotton wool balls or pads
  • Cuticle care. Jojoba oil is great for nourishing and rehydrating dry cuticles and nails. It’s apparently the one oil that has molecules small enough to penetrate the nail plate. I bought a small glass bottle and a dropper lid, plus some organic jojoba oil. I added a couple of drops of essential oils too to make it smell nice. I keep the bottle by my PC and at least twice a day I put a drop on the base of each nail, leaving it to spread around the cuticle for a minute or so before massaging it in. You can make your own cuticle oil too.
  • Repairing a broken nail. If you break or split a nail, you can repair it with a piece of teabag and some nail glue. Cut the teabag to size and glue it over the split  and leave to dry. You can then rub it down with a 6-way nail buffer. Just remember that the repair will come off if you use acetone, so use a non-acetone polish until the repair has grown out. (The best teabag I’ve found is from Lipton’s fruit teas – the pyramid shaped ones – as they are made of a sort of woven gauze that’s difficult to tear).


How to grow long nails

Assuming you don’t currently bite your nails, and you want to grow them, here’s my tips to get healthy, long nails.

  • Each time your wash your hands, moisturise them afterwards.
  • Use cuticle oil twice a day, and a hand/cuticle moisturiser twice a day ( in the morning and then again overnight).
  • File your nails with a crystal (not glass) nail file. I mainly use ones by GERmanikure and Leighton Denny.
  • Don’t do the washing up or cleaning without wearing rubber gloves.
  • Be careful after getting your hands wet for more than a few minutes – e.g. after a bath or shower. Your nails are weakened when wet.
  • Never use your nails as tools. Stop opening ring-pull cans. Don’t even peel off stickers. Use something other than your nails to do these sorts of job – or get someone else to do it for you!
  • Always use a base coat and top coat.
  • Keep your nails polished.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your nails and skin in great condition.