I’ve decided to write my very first nail care tutorial. Of course, I am no nail technician and I will be the first to tell you that this is not professional advice. However, as someone who does my own nails for 10+ years – I’ve picked up some tricks of the trade. I take pride in knowing that I put my nail health first and glittery pretty stuff second.
Every tip and advice that I will give you is tried on my own hands multiple times and I’ve found an order of care steps that work for me. As you know, what works for me may or may not work for you so bear that in mind. Enough disclaimer, let’s start what you came here for.
Before we even begin I recommend thoroughly washing your hands and exfoliating them. Remove the dead skin from your hands and cuticles. That should be our perfect bright canvas. We will go step by step with this tutorial, from removing old polish to putting base coat before new polish.
First Step: Removing old polish
Here are my nails with the old polish on. As you can see, the chip on the side of my middle finger nail is looking pretty layered. It may look small, but it will deteriorate my nails if left untreated.
I remove polish as soon as I see noticeable chipping. Usually, my nails also chip right where the polish chipped when I don’t react as soon as I can. That is why whenever I see a chip on the polish, it is an alarm to do something about my nails. Moisturize them, buff them, file them, anything that will help.
Try to use acetone free polish remover and rinse your hands as soon as you remove the polish to reduce the drying effect of nail polish remover. Acetone-free polish removers do not evaporate as quickly as acetone and they are slower to remove your polish, but they will be less drying on your nails on the long run. I have both acetone and nonacetone polish remover and I use acetone one only when dealing with stubborn nail polishes – think chunky glitter.
Still, whatever I use to remove the polish, it still dries my nails. After all, just like it dissolves nail polish – it also removes natural oils from my nails and cuticles. To show you how terrible my nails look I took a picture, but be warned – it is not a pretty sight.
Also, my thumb had a peeling cuticle situation that had to be treated. Usually, my nail and cuticle situation is much better, but this a very cold and dry time of the year just ended here where I live. From now, it should only get better with care. Even just after one home treatment, you will see the improvement.
Second Step: Hydrate
So you’ve just removed old polish and you are faced with possible brittle, peeled and dehydrated nails. Sometimes, fingernails are even discolored because of the dark polishes you’ve been using. I won’t tackle that issue because it is just a visual issue, not a health one. You probably have the urge to file your nails, buff them into perfection and cut all those peeling cuticles. We are not there yet before we even begin with that we will firstly hydrate our nails.
It doesn’t matter what cream you are using, just slather something over your nails. There are hand creams, nail (cuticle) creams, you could even use body lotions or face masks. Just get something that works for you. I have here Balea Luxury hand lotion. Again, it doesn’t have to be high-end cream, use what works for you. In the worst case scenario, I recommend a cream that contains Urea for that extra push of moisture.
After everything is soaked in, your nails and cuticles should look a lot healthier than when we started. You will maybe even notice that your nails are shinier depending on the cream used or the amount of time you were soaking your nails. If you compare my nails from the beginning of this post to those on the bottom picture, it won’t look like the same hand. However, this is still far from perfect and there are still steps to go through.
Third Step: Taking Care of Skin Around Your Nails
Before we shape our nails, we will take care of what is around them. I usually start with gently pushing my skin back with a soft, rubber cuticle pusher. I can’t stress the word gentle enough. If at any moment you feel pain – STOP! If your nail beds are short, don’t try to force it by pushing the skin too far. Think baby steps. Before every manicure, push a little bit. A little goes a long way in the long run. Just don’t use anything hard (or..gasp..metal), don’t even use your own nails to push the skin back. You could only cause unnecessary tearing. Below is a picture of my cuticle pusher, while it may look stiff, it is actually soft and rubbery. And, unless you are a trained nail technician, don’t cut your cuticles!
I had one peeling skin situation on my thumb that I had mentioned earlier. I couldn’t let that sit unresolved so I had to intervene. I am usually against picking the skin around your nails. Not only it is far from a lovely sight, but the tears that you make enable bacteria to get in. And we all know that our hands cannot be perfectly sterile.
When I have an intervention like this, I use a cuticle trimmer or small scissors. No matter what I use, I make sure that it is sharp. There is nothing worse than using a blunt tool to trim your peeling skin. Try to limit the amount of cutting that you do to your skin and trim as close to the skin as possible.
After taking care of your cuticles, it is always a good idea to rehydrate again as you may created small tears with all that pulling and cutting. So before we shape our nails, we should moisturize further. You could skip this step if your nails and skin are particularly healthy, but I always recommend a good moisturizing session.
Here, I will be using Eveline 8in1 Argan Elixir, a really inexpensive nail, and cuticle oil. It lasts me ages and it is really good for my nails and skin. I definitely recommend it, especially if you don’t own any nail oil/elixir. It would be best if I used it daily, but even once a week will be fine and you should see improvement. Hurry up and order it.
I am even considering writing a separate review for this product so hit me up if you are interested.
Check out my slathered, oily nails below. I leave it on for at least half an hour and after the time is up, I massage it with circular movements into my cuticles until it is all soaked up.
Fourth Step: Shaping Your Nails
So, after my whole procedure and lastly Eveline Argan Elixir treatment, my nails are finally looking healthy again. If you don’t believe me, the picture below speaks for itself.
We are finally on the shaping part. You can shorten your nails with scissors, clippers or nail file. If you use nail clippers or scissors, I still recommend filing after cutting your nails to close the edges of your nails.
Since I almost exclusively use nail files, I will only talk about them.
First of all, there are a lot of different nail files; emery, metal, crystal, glass … How to know which one is best? Easy! The more gentle your nail file is to your nails, the better it is for them. I will represent glass/crystal nail files until they invent something better. I even listed my glass nail file in my Holy Grail Products post. It is worth investing in a quality glass file because they can last you a lifetime with proper care. I even wash them in my dishwasher every month or so.
Whatever you use, stay away from metal or harsh nail files (the ones with low grit number).
So, how to use your nails file properly and minimize the damage done to your nails?
Here are a few tips:
- Don’t treat your nail file like a saw going back and forth!
- Do file in one direction. Ideally from the edge toward the center.
- Don’t angle your nail file because you will thin your nails.
- Do file with the nail file flat against the nail.
- Don’t file your sides too much because it will weaken your nails, do only as much as you need to shape them.
- Do use nail files with different grits, starting from the lowest to the highest that is perfect for polishing and buffing your nails.
- Don’t over buff your nails until you remove all discoloration. Your nails will be too thin by then. It is better to invest in a good base coat to prevent staining and yellowing.
I didn’t file every nail to the same length because I want to grow them out. My priority was shaping the corners of my nails. Finally, they look good „naked“.
Fifth Step: Polish it
Before you apply your base coat, I recommend washing your hands in soap. I know, you already did it at the beginning, but it is more important than you think. Washing your hands strips your nails from natural oils (and creams and oils that you added for hydration) which prevent the nail polish adhere to the nail better. So washing your hands will make the polish stay on longer. You want that, right?
I will do a double base coat for this tutorial because I will keep my nails bare so I want them extra protected from possible breaking.
A first base coat that I will use here is definitely in my top holy grail nail products. It is again something from Eveline, a little miracle called 8in1 Total Action Intensive Nail Conditioner. It should be worn just like a nail polish for a few days. It is meant to strengthen and improve the overall health of your nails. Since I’ve started using it regularly, I’ve noticed that my nails are longer, less brittle, harder and that they do not break as before. The only downside I found on this is the fact that it contains Formaldehyde and that a few of you reported having allergy reactions on this. Luckily, I had no negative side effects from using this as my base which means I will continue using it until those side effects show. Hopefully, it will be never.
It has this milky white color that instantly makes your nails look brighter.
If you are interested in this inexpensive nail therapy, visit this link and grab yourself one.
Next up is my second base. It is not conditioner like the last one, just your regular base. I love it because it is thick and makes my nails look plump. I always use this one when I keep my nails bare. It is Essence XXL Nail Thickener. Again, a really inexpensive nail product that I like. I don’t splurge on my regular bases because I use them so often that I would go bankrupt if I kept it high end. My bases just serve as a barrier so that my nails don’t turn yellow after a dark polish. Anyway, for those of you who are interested in this base, I won’t put up any links because they are extremely hard to find. Essence is European brand and easily available in stores here where I live. You should probably look in the stores nearby for Essence rack. I am really not sure if it will be available to all of you. In the meantime, you can check the description of this one on their official site.
Finally, we’ve come to an end of this technical part, I hope you enjoyed the ride – here are my finished results:
Although we all know that good nail oils and cuticle care can result in lovely nails, now I want to talk about something even more important.
I noticed the biggest change in my nails when I started changing my diet. Yes, diet! Just food.
Instead of buying supplements and vitamins that are overpriced and often not even healthy, why not take the direct approach?
In my experience, I noticed that drinking more water daily resulted in nails that were less brittle and more elastic, just like my skin. Elastic nails won’t break at the slightest impact. That is always a plus. If you can’t force yourself to drink enough water, brew yourself a cup or two of tea daily instead of coffee. Trust me, you will notice the changes.
Considering food, the ones that affected my nails the most were:
- oats (nails and hair grew like crazy when I ate oats each morning for breakfast)
- beer (not saying you should become alcoholic, but the beer did make my nails less brittle!)
- beans and chickpeas (also made my nails and hair grow)
- salmon (made my nails really shiny when I started eating it more often and combining it with other fish)
- avocado (the oils in it feed your nails from inside out)
- pumpkin seeds (removed discoloration from my nails)
There are much more superfoods, but the ones listed had the biggest impact on my nails (and also, they may not work on yours, or maybe they’ll work even better).
Sometimes, your perfectly planned diet doesn’t go as planned. In those moments you can take supplements. I recommend brewer’s yeast in the shape of dried powder because it contains B-complex vitamins that are great for your nails.
And finally, when doing chores that involve water and/or chemicals, spare your nails all that suffering and wear gloves. Your nails will thank you. Think of your nails as accessories, not tools. Don’t try to open a key ring with your nails, don’t try to open sturdy packaging with your nails, or at least don’t be surprised when your nail breaks. I was guilty of treating them like tools for so long and that habit is hard to break.
One of the best tips I got is that you should treat your nails like you just painted them with polish whenever you can. And while we’re at it, don’t be scared of wearing polish. Not only polished hands look feminine, nails are also more protected with a layer or two of polish over them. Nail polish is not what is ruining/drying your nails the most (especially if you use a good nail base), acetone is. If you practice a good habit of moisturizing your nails after every nail polish removal, you won’t even notice the drying effect of nail polish remover. And steer clear of acetone in removers. Today, there is a wide variety of non-acetone removers so grab yourself one.
But, as with everything, the key is in moderation. You should still leave your nails bare for a few days every month or two. Just to let them breathe. Just don’t forget to apply moisturizers on your nails during that time.
After following these tips you should notice that your nails are healthier, more elastic, not splitting or breaking and, in the end, longer. You will also probably realize that nail polish stays much longer on nails that are taken care of.
Hope you enjoyed reading this, I would love it if you followed any of my tips. Wish you strong and healthy nails!