I receive questions here and there about my nail and cuticle care, favorite top coat, etc. So I thought I would create this post and also stick it in one of my "pages" on my side-bar so it's easily accessible in the future.
Nail & Cuticle History
Prior to about one year ago, I would have never thought anyone would ask me how I take care of my nails and cuticles. I had a horrible habit for at least 15 years of picking my cuticles. They were so bad that I would always hide my fingers - my hands were always in fists. I tried quitting so many times. I tried putting band-aids on every finger, used bad tasting serums, wore a bracelet as a reminder, told my husband to pinch me if he saw me picking, etc. Nothing ever worked until I started reading nail blogs. While reading blogs, I started seeing Chanel Peridot swatches and fell in love. I made a deal with myself that if I would quit picking my cuticles for 30 days, I could reward myself with a bottle of Chanel Peridot. And it worked! I became very aware of what I was doing with hands from that point forward and stopped myself whenever I would want to pick. I still have scars on my thumbs from how far down my skin was damaged. I'm so glad I overcame that habit because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have this blog.
I am by no means an expert. I don't think I have the greatest cuticles and nails, I just thought I'd show you what works for me...
Nail Polish Remover
My favorite nail polish remover is Zoya Remove+. I have always used the cheap remover from Target and I would scrub and scrub to get my polish off. I finally decided to splurge and try Zoya Remove+...partly because of the cool plunger cap. It's so convenient and you get the perfect amount of product without spilling. Zoya Remove+ generally takes off all of my nail polish with 2 cotton rounds. Glitter and some metallics may take a little more, but it is the best remover I have ever used. It also doesn't dry out cuticles because it has a 3 in 1 formula that moisturizes, nourishes, and fortifies. It is called a remover, nail prep, and nail conditioner and you aren't suppose to wash it off before you paint your nails. I started out with the small bottle with the flipper for $9.99. Now I buy the 32 oz jug for $25 and use it to refill the small one. It lasts quite a while and I usually buy a new one if they have a free shipping deal or a promotion where I can get a free polish with a $25 purchase. I highly recommend this remover.
Nail Strengthener/Base Coat
OPI Nail Envy is a great Nail Strengthener. I have tried many strengtheners from Sally Beauty Supply and Ulta, but this seems to do the trick for me. My nails no longer peel and they are pretty strong - I can't bend them like I have been able to do in the past. I usually put this on after I take my polish off if I don't plan on painting them right away. I probably put it on about 3 or 4 times a week.
Lush Lemony Flutter is what saved my cuticles. I always struggle with dry cuticles, especially in the cold Minnesota winters. I am happy to say that I think I finally have them under control. You may notice in some of my photos that my cuticles are a little long - they probably come a little further out on the nail than most people prefer. But because of my past with picking and failed attempts at pushing them back or using cuticle removers, I just leave them alone. Because I leave a small gap between my cuticle and where the paint starts, it can sometimes look like I have a bigger gap than I should (I recently found this out through the comments under a photo that Zoya shared on their FB). But this is how I paint my nails and I guess I can't please everyone, right?
Below is a photo of how much Lemony Flutter I slather on before bed each night. You don't need much to cover your nails like this. Lemony Flutter is pretty greasy, so if I want to put it on during the day, I don't use this much. I had a hard time spending $16+ on a cuticle butter, but have since been convinced that it is well worth it. If you are having trouble with your cuticles, I think you should just bite the bullet and buy Lemony Flutter once and for all:)
You may be wondering why I have a Pedi Creme in this post. I can pretty much guarantee that you will never see my toes on this blog...but I don't use this on my feet. This works so well for me as a hand lotion... Especially before taking photos for my blog. It seems to soften the look of the fine lines on my hands and I prefer that look in my photos. I'm not sure if it reflects the light or why it smooths out the lines, but whatever it is, I like it:) I also love the scent of it - it's light and refreshing. I have used it on my feet under thick socks and left it on overnight and my feet feel as smooth as a babies butt! And for a runner with callus', that doesn't happen very easily. This is currently sold out on Julep.com so I got this bottle in a swap:)
I use a glass nail file to file my nails. I like it because I got sick of repurchasing the regular files - I would always buy that 4-sided one from Target or Walgreens and it would wear out within a month. The glass file takes a little bit to get used to because it takes more of the nail with each swipe. It was also a little tricky getting the right angle without making it feel like nails on a chalkboard....eeek! I don't file my nails very often, but when I do, I have been liking the glass file.
Favorite Top Coat
My favorite top coat is Revlon Colorstay Gel-Shine. I have always used either Seche Vite or Essie Good To Go, but I couldn't stand how thick and goopy they got when I got half-way through the bottle. It was such a waste of product and money. I tried so many top coats; looking for the shine, quick dry time, while keeping the thin consistency. Revlon Colorstay fits the bill...it's thin enough for easy application and quick dry time, but thick enough to give you lots of shine. I also love the wide brush. The price is awesome too - especially if the drugstore is having a sale. If you are in the market for a new top coat, I highly recommend Revlon Colorstay.
Lotion, Lotion, Lotion. I have lotion at home by my bed, lotion on my desk at work, lotion in my handbag, and lotion in the car. I have tried so many and am not too picky. I love the Ulta Smoothie Body Cremes because they have awesome scents and are always on sale. I also like the Bodycology brand that you can find at drugstores (Vanilla Cupcake is my fav). I have been using the Burt's Bees lotion (below) lately because I love the scent. It's an OK lotion, but not the most moisturizing. I just recommend finding a lotion you like and throwing it on whenever you see it...especially if you are a nail blogger:)
The last thing I will recommend is drinking plenty of water and taking vitamins. I take prenatal vitamins; not because I plan on getting pregnant any time soon, but because I have heard/read that it is good for the hair and nails. I have also read that Almonds are great for hair, skin, and nails. so I have a handful of raw almonds every day.
I hope this helped you in some way. Like I said, I'm not an expert and this is just what works for me. I don't think nail and cuticle care is a one size fits all regimen. Good luck!
What are your favorite nail and cuticle products?