Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Frequently Asked Questions: Cuticle & Skin Care Routine

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Ever since I started blogging again, I’ve been going back through my old emails trying to respond to everyone that had questions over the past 3 years. Eventually, I plan to do a FAQ page, but for now I’m posting some answers to the most commonly asked questions. Second only to the emails from people in other countries asking how to buy nail polish on my site (I’m really not sure why I get so many of those), are questions about my nail and cuticle care routine. I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a manicure video or step-by-step tutorial. Definitely not hi-tech enough to do a video and, to be honest, I’m really not very good at painting my nails. My  application is usually a hot mess, I’m just pretty good at clean up. The next time I need to replace my clean up brush, I’ll post a tutorial. I cut and shape a regular brush, which I find is the best way to get a good brush to suit my clean-up needs.

For this post, I want to address moisturizer and cuticle care. I’m a compulsive moisturizer. In my bathroom, at my desk at work, near my bed and in my purse, I keep a barrage of different hand creams and lotions. I’ve used a lot of brands and have had mostly good experiences. I don’t have a holy grail daily moisturizer right now, but I’ve been on the look out for one. In the past, I was a really big fan of Jaqua Pink Buttercream Frosting Hand Creme, but their site was down forever and that hand creme is currently not available. If it ever becomes available again, I’ll go back to it faithfully but until then I’m on the hunt for a good replacement.

As a disclaimer – I’m not a nail tech, I don’t purport to have any specialized knowledge or background with regard to these products. Everything in this post is based solely on my experience over the years. These are just products and methods that have worked well for me. I think the best idea is to try different things until you find a product, or a combination of products that work well for you.

These are my favorite products right now – let’s go through them one by one.

Creative Nail Design (CND) Solar Oil is my favorite cuticle oil. I’ve tried a few, but none have been as effective. If I’m doing a full-blown manicure, i.e., cuticle dissolver, bleaching agent, filing, and painting, then I usually apply Solar Oil right before I file. Generally, I place generous dabs of it on all my nails, then rub it into the cuticles and let it soak in while I file with a glass file. The oil tends to dulls the glass file. Scrubbing the glass file with a nail brush usually solves that problem. Obviously, the downside of doing it this way is that any oil that remains on the nail bed can cause your mani to bubble. I use Zoya Remove+ both as my go-to polish remover and nail prep for the purpose of removing cuticle oil and other moisturizers. It’s more gentle than 100% acetone which definitely helps in maintaining cuticle health. With that said, I do use a very small amount of 100% acetone for clean up without much ill effect. If I’m just painting my nails, I’ll use the oil  right after I photograph the finished manicure. I just ladle it on with the brush and let it soak in without rubbing. I buy Solar Oil in the largest bottle and then decant into smaller ones. I keep a bottle in my manicure kit and one next to my bed.

I keep a bottle of CND Cuticle Eraser next to my bed and in my purse. I use it two to three times a day, everyday. I use a slightly smaller than pea-sized amount on every nail, rub it in the cuticle, then rub my hands together. This is an amazing moisturizer. It smells pleasant, my Husband says it smells like Fruity Pebbles… I’m not so sure about that. It’s a little oily but dries fairly quickly. It contains A.H.A. (alpha hydroxy acids) which are known for helping to improve skin moisture and removing dead skin cells. I find that using this makes a  noticeable difference in the appearance of my cuticles. After not using Cuticle Eraser for a long time when I stopped blogging, I noticed a marked improvement after a week or so of daily use. After prolonged use, my cuticles require less dissolving and cutting. In fact, after about a month or so of using it, I am able to stop cutting my cuticles completely (which I prefer to avoid doing as much as possible, because I’m bad at it and it inevitably always causes damage to my nail bed). It doesn’t “erase” the cuticle completely and it’s not a dissolver in the traditional sense. My experience has been that it just keeps your cuticles in check – it keeps them from growing out of control and keeps them from drying which helps to prevent hang nails, etc. I get my CND products from the typical online retailers but they are also available at some brick and mortars. I haven’t seen Cuticle Eraser very often but Solar Oil is seriously available everywhere, even drugstores.

Finally, Lush Lemony Flutter, the best cuticle butter ever. Just be forwarned, it smells like lemony gasoline. It’s about as pleasant smelling as that description makes it sounds. My husband hates it (I feel for him but beauty comes at a cost and, in this case, it’s his olfactory suffering - hahaha). The scent is so overpowering I can’t really imagine using this during the day, or subjecting humans other than my husband to it.  The closest Lush store is about 30 minutes away for me, so I buy mine online. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but one tub lasts me about 2 or 3 months.  I keep a tub next to my bed. At night, I use a generous amount. I rub it into my cuticles and then rub my hands together to cover both evenly. (I also occasionally use it on other problem areas, like elbows, knees, and feet – this stuff really works miracles). After I’ve applied a good amount of Lemony Flutter,  I put on…

Gloves. Yes, gloves. *Stares blankly*

 I know – this is excessive but I swear I’m not crazy. Swatching beats up your hands pretty bad. These little gloves make a world of difference when used in conjunction with a strong moisturizer. These gloves are very widely available. I got a ton of them at TJ Maxx once. The ones pictured here, I got at Publix. They’re helpful for using thicker moisturizers like Lemony Flutter or Bag Balm. With Lemony Flutter, I use so much that it doesn’t really fully absorb into my skin. The gloves help to keep it on my hands and also prevents the treatment from getting all over everything. (Can’t have the bedspread smelling like a lemony gas-station, after all). I sleep in these every night. When I take them off in the morning, I usually have a little Lemony Flutter residue but I have super soft skin.

Whew. That pretty much covers it – I’ve now divulged all my secrets. Haven’t been bathing in placenta or anything, just compulsively using some legitimately good products. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for a new holy grail hand cream.


Avoiding Chiptastic Tips

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Despite the ridiculous chipped nail polish trend reported by the New York Times and sported by Vanessa Hudgens, most go to great lengths to avoid chiptastic tips. The majority of emails I get from people who frequent my site concern methods to avoid getting chips. I get these emails so often, I decided to just concentrate everything I know in one handy post for your convenience. These are all suggestions that have worked for me and people I know. In truth, this is a very experimental process. Ultimately, you just have to wade through the information and find the combination of methods that works best for you individually.

1. Be realistic. Are you’re a potter? Do you chew on your nails? Do you type 24 hours a day? Do you use your nails like a Swiss Army knife? (Use a real toothpick! Open cans with the sides of your fingers! Don’t tap your nails on hard surfaces!) Do you hand-wash dishes multiple times a day without wearing gloves? If you said yes to any of that, there is no magical combination of products, tips, or tricks on Earth that will help you achieve a super long lasting manicure. You have to change the way you treat your nails. One simple solution is to just wear gloves while doing activities that are harmful to your nails, it makes a world of difference. Sure, you’ll get made fun of, especially if you have male roommates but whatever.

2. Is it the surface of your nail bed? Most people immediately assume that chips are caused by bad product formulas but sometimes the culprit is the surface of your nail bed. If your nails peel, the unevenness can cause the polish to chip. The best way to deal with this is to lightly buff the peeled portion of your nail until it’s even. Be weary of over buffing, there a few things in this world more horrifyingly painful and uncomfortable than over buffed nails. I got chills just typing that sentence. If it’s a really bad peel with very pronounced unevenness, lightly buff and use a ridge filler (Barielle Camoflauge and Seche Ridgefiller are addict favorites.)

3. Is the surface of your nail bed clean? Oils on the surface of your nail bed can prevent the polish from properly adhering to the nail. Some people like to use vinegar, 100% acetone with no moisturizers, or alcohol to clean the surface. In my infinite nail snobbiness, I like to use specialized nail preps like Rescue Beauty Lounge First Step Nail Prep or Zoya Remove+).

4. Ok now the big question… is there something wrong with the products you are using? Most likely… no. I really don’t believe that any product is inherently bad. I don’t believe any polish, no matter how cheap, has an inherently bad formula. Any polish regardless of brand, when properly applied, should give you at least two days of perfect wear. There are some considerations though, some products won’t work for certain people but they may work wonderfully for other people. Your lifestyle and personal body chemistry will affect the results you get from any product.  You just have to find what works best for you and that requires trial and error.

5. What to try during your trials: Hands down, you need a sticky base coat. I personally love Color Club Stuck on You and Nail Laminates No More Chips. Other girls really love Creative Stickey and Orly Bonder. Pretty much, every company makes a sticky basecoat so take your pick and run with it.

A good top coat is a necessity, don’t fight it. I really love Seche Vite and Lippmann Collection Addicted to Speed. Other girls really love INM Out the Door and Poshe. As far as actual polishes, I personally get better results with higher end polishes. Rescue Beauty Lounge wears on me like it’s got Voo Doo in it but that doesn’t mean other companies won’t wear just as well. I’ve never had problems with any of the big name companies.

6. Finally, is there something wrong with the way you’re applying color? Maybe. Wait until the base coat is completely dry before you start applying color. I have found that working with very thin coats works best, even if that means you’re using more coats than you normally would. Three thin coats are better than two thick coats. Lastly, “wrapping” your tips, which means brushing horizontally across the tip of your nail with your top coat tends to help with chipping issues.

7. Use moisturizer all the time. Period.


8. Apply fresh top coat every other day – this does wonders for extending the life of manicures. I really like Nail Laminates Liquid Glass for this purpose. (Thank you for reminding me about this tip, Geraldine!)

If you incorporate all those tips into your routine and you still have issues, email me, we’ll find a solution.