Thursday, May 5, 2011

By request

The other day, a reader left a comment asking me to share how I do my nails - specifically how I get the polish to be neat at the cuticle - and any tricks I may have.  Honestly, I don't think I always do such a great job - if you want to see gorgeous nails, take a look at Erika's or Scrangie's!!  These ladies have truly impressive skills!  But I promised, so here goes . . .

I think the way I paint on the polish is pretty much the same as everyone else, but there is a really lovely tutorial here if you care to see.  I was really sad when Lacquerized stopped posting on her blog - her nails always look so great - but happy that she left it up, because she has a lot of great tips.

I will say that I have pretty good fine motor skills (gross motor, not so much!) so it's not that hard for me to do an acceptable job most of the time.  But I do have one absolutely necessary tool, without which I can't do a mani:

Reading glasses - I think they work better
if they have sparkles on them.

This may be obvious to some of you, but it was a revelation to me!  Things got a whole lot easier when I could see what I was doing!

Another thing I learned from Lacquerized is how to fix mistakes after the fact, using a small stiff brush dipped in remover.  I use a concealer brush by e.l.f. that I get at Target for $1:

As you can see, it's been used
quite a bit.

Here's my thumb before using the brush and after.  The difference is small, but visible I think:

I always use basecoat to help prevent staining and chipping, and I also always use a quick-drying topcoat.  Even though I change my polish almost every day, I hate it when I get chips.  It's embarrassing how much chipped polish will distract me!  So I like to seal it.  I generally use Essie First Base and Good to Go, or China Glaze Strong Adhesion Basecoat and Fast Forward topcoat.  I will occasionally use Seche Vite topcoat if I know that I want to stamp my nails right away or if I will need to be using my hands five minutes after I've done my nails.  It really does cure the polish quicker than anything else, but I find the smell nauseating (thank you, menopause).

I try to be really good about cuticle care.  I apply Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil at least once a day - often several times - and Lush Lemony Flutter right before bed.  I think that no matter how great the polish looks, if the cuticles are ragged, the whole look is shot.

Another thing that's really great for cuticles is a moisturizing lotion with alpha hydroxy acid in it.  For years I used CND Cuticle Eraser, but then it became hard to find.  Sometime later, I bought this body lotion and realized it felt the same, so I've been using it on my cuticles ever since:

It is a fraction of the price - I think this tube cost me about $18.  I rub a tiny amount into each cuticle - about the size of half a grain of rice.  I don't do this every day, but when I find my cuticles are getting dried out, this cream will soften them back up in no time.  It's also great for heels and elbows.

SO . . .  here is the polish I put on today.  This is Zoya Blossom, one of the colors I got in the Polish Exchange.  It is quite sheer and took me 3 coats to get rid of the streakiness.  Over it I put CND Crimson Sparkle.  In the picture, my index finger doesn't have the sparkle yet.  I had a hard time getting a picture of the sparkle because once again, we have cloudy skies in Chicago.  You can see it better if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

Note that the cuticles aren't looking so nice yet.  After I put on all my polish and topcoat, I wait 5 - 10 minutes and then apply the Apricot Cuticle Oil.  This conditions the cuticles and also helps cure the polish quicker!

Whew!  Did anyone make it this far?  Hope that was helpful!  In case you hadn't noticed before, I'm sure you realize now that I'm an over-explainer!!


  1. Yes, I made it all the way to the end of your post and then followed the link to Laquerized's blog.
    I love color on my nails. But I know that a neater line would make me happier. I will follow the advice you've posted just as soon as I find a brush.
    I believe there is a real emergence of gals who do their own nails vs. those frequenting salons.

  2. I think so too. I've always done my own nails, but I think people who used to go to salons are possibly now choosing not to spend that money.

  3. I really like the sparkle you added to the Zoya.

    I'd be lost without my cleanup brush; I use a small artists paintbrush I got at a craft store.

  4. hee hee - I was thinking I should have added even more! You can never have too much sparkle!

  5. I'm still a novice and am learning, so thanks for the good tip about the brush!

    I haven't tried that many topcoats, but I have to say I'm a fan of Diamond Cosmetics Super Dry. I usually only have time to change out my polish once a week, usually at night. I used to get dents overnight and sheet impressions, but not anymore. And I almost always make it through the week without chips--only a little tip wear.

  6. Wow - I'm impressed you can go a whole week! Even if I didn't get bored of the same color, I wouldn't make it that long. I guess I do too much hard labor! I may have to rethink my lifestyle!


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