Tips & Tricks: Manicures and Nails


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Welcome to my first installation of Tips & Tricks! Every so often I’ll have a post filled with some tricks I’ve learned or just general tips on how to do something. This time, we’re going to focus on manicures and nails in general. Before my love of makeup blossomed, I had a serious nail polish addiction. I currently own about 500 bottles of polish and I still can’t go places and not get a bottle here and there.

So on to some tips and tricks for your lovely tips!

So, to me, the most important aspect of a manicure is keeping your normal nails healthy. Something that people don’t do often enough is buff their nails. All you need is a 4 sided block buffer and they’re cheap as chips. You can also find those at any drugstore or place that sells nail tools. Buffing is important because it gets rid of the ridges on your nails and increasing blood flow to the area. The increased blood flow actually makes your nails stronger. I personally buff once every two weeks, but you might want to do it weekly or every three weeks. It also provides a smooth surface for nail polish to adhere to and makes your polish look awesome!

The next one is a suggestion for getting stronger nails that grow faster. I have tried biotin supplements in the past and they have gotten my nails stronger and better. It also made my super thick hair even thicker, but my skin was a bit healthier. You can find them at any store that sells vitamins. Please don’t start a supplement like that without consulting a healthcare professional that is familiar with you. Just safer that way.

If you must scale back how long your nails are, filing is a better idea than trimming with clippers. Clipping causes stress points and breaks. Invest in a good nail file. I personally use a glass one and you can get one here. 

Another aspect you need to keep healthy are cuticles! They are block germs and gunk from getting inside of you. Under no circumstances should you trim them yourself. Always go to a pro and let them do it. If you can’t get to a pro and want to clean up that area, after a shower, use a cuticle stick with a rubber end and push them back. If you must remove them, Sally Hansen has a gel that works well. The most important thing you can do is keep those cuticles moisturized. There are creams, oils, and lotions out there that do great. I personally just use regular lotion or vitamin E oil, but use what works best for them. Drinking plenty of water also helps!

Alright, so our nails are now healthy, good looking, and ready for a manicure, what next?

Base coat. This makes a huge difference in how long polish will stay. I personally use CND Stickey as it makes a sticky base for the polish to stick to. I’ve heard that Orly Bonder is also a good option. If you use mainly Zoya products, the 5-step system by them isn’t a bad investment. I personally don’t care for it, but people have raved about it in the past.

Nail polish time! Well, use whatever you like is the rule of thumb here. I suggest checking that the polishes you use are 3-free at the least. It helps with the smell. Most are and you can easily get some for cheap. I do suggest finding a good black just to have as a base. Many polishes might be thin and require a ton of layers to get coverage. If you layer it over a black polish, it’ll look awesome and require maybe 1-2 coats at max. You can also layer them over other colors for different effects. Here are two examples. One over black and one over dark blue.

Now say you want some awesome designs, but aren’t good at drawing, what does one do? Well, you do what I do and invest in glitter bombs, dotting tools, and striping tape. You can always buy dotting tools and striping tape or you can make do with something  you might already have. A good dotting tool replacement is a bobby pin or a straight pin stuck into an eraser. You could also use a dried up ball point pen. As for striping tape, regular scotch tape does the same thing and you can cut it into the width you want. You can also buy loose sequins and glitter and apply them with a dotting tool. Just take a bit of base or top coat on the end of the dotting tool and pick up the sequin and then place it on the nail. You could also just roll a tacky nail in a bit of glitter and it’ll look awesome. If you use tape, make sure the polish on the nail is dry. It’ll make your life easier in the long run.

Let’s top this off!

Top coats are a bit interesting. I personally swear by Seche Vite. I swear by it so much that when I wasn’t able to wear my engagement ring due to losing weight, I put my ring on the bottle of SV because I knew I wouldn’t lose it that way. I value my engagement ring the same as I value this top coat. I know there are others out there that work for other people, so feel free to search one out you like. SV does have a nasty habit of getting thick about halfway through the bottle. You can use Seche Restore to fix that. It’s also good to have a bottle of Restore around in case any of your regular nail polishes dry out. It will fix it and is the best for that job. Another top coat I suggest people get is a matte top coat. It transforms your polish from a nice shiny finish to matte. I currently use Sally Hansen’s Big Matte Top Coat, but I have used the matte top coat from Hard Candy in the past. My favorite matte look is glitter over a base. I suggest that look to anyone that wants something fun and easy to do.

Removal time!

I use pure acetone to remove my polish. I use cotton balls and if I wear glitter, I hold the cotton ball down for a bit to let the acetone to soak in. It’s what works for me. If you start using acetone, take care to not spill it and avoid plastic items while your nails are still wet with it. If you aren’t aware, acetone can melt plastic.

I want to finish this with some notes about “tips” that float around the net. Don’t ever lick your nail if you get a smudge. Your best bet is to remove it and redo. Sticking your nails in ice water to dry them faster will dry them fast, but they’ll also chip easily. You’re better off just getting a fast drying top coat like SV (dries in 10 minutes at most).  Don’t use nail polish remover to revive dried polish or thin out thick polish. You need nail polish thinner, which is different than remover. The remover will just ruin your polish. Last, but not least, if your polish has separated or you want it mixed well. Do not shake it. roll it along your leg gently until it’s all mixed and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes. If you shake it, it creates bubbles. Bubble then make it on to the nail and don’t look good. Don’t shake polishes, always roll gently.

Are there any tips you have? Is there anything you feel I missed? Let me know in the comments!


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