More than once on this blog have I bemoaned my piss-poor nails. I have shallow nail beds with thin and weak nails. With summer coming up, I decided to make a concerted effort to improve the overall health, quality and strength of my nails and, having used this routine for a few weeks now and seeing some improvement in the length and longevity (how long they last before breaking/splitting/peeling) of my nails, I thought it was time to share it with you all!
Every night (and morning when I remember it), I apply a good helping of hand cream. I never want to suffer with hands like Madonna's or Angelina Jolie's when I get older so, I try to keep my hands looking plump and hydrated and the skin supple.
My current favourite is the Body Shop's Almond Hand cream and I generously apply this all over the hands and up to my wrists, focusing particularly on massaging it into my cuticles to prevent them from drying out and snagging.
I find that wearing nail polish gives my nails an added layer of strength and protection from the daily wear and tear that comes with typing, working out etc. However, before I paint my nails I always make sure to give myself a mini manicure and prepare them properly.
Step one is always to push back my cuticles and remove any dead or dry parts. I suffer terribly with dry cuticles and have a horrid habit of biting on them when I am distracted or nervous. Not only does this lead to unkempt looking hands but, it also results in sore, red and often bleeding fingers. Not cute!
I use a cuticle remover kit from Kiss to this. Sometimes I will use the Sally Hansen Cuticle Gel if there is a lot of dead skin build-up to contend with but, generally I find the cleanest results come from sliding the blade of the remover over the dry cuticles as they are. I also clip away any larger bits of skin that may pull and tear.
Once that's all cleared up, I go in with a nail file to shape my talons and remove any scraggly bits which may catch. Now, I'm absolutely brutal at shaping my nails. For the life of me I can't figure out why I can't shape all my nails uniformly so, I tend to just keep them quite square by clipping them with a straight-edge nail clippers and filing them to keep the edges smooth.
To prevent staining but, also to nourish and promote growth even under nail polish, I apply a thin layer of base coat. I even wear this on the rare day I have no nail polish on to keep everything going.
I generally use OPI Nail Envy but, over the last few weeks I have been trialling Sally Hansen 4-in-1 Care and I have been loving it. I have a full review here so, I won't bore you with the details but, suffice to say my nails look healthier and feel harder and stronger to the touch than I ever recall them feeling.
I work in really thin layers so as to avoid too much build-up on the nails. So, after a thin layer of base coat and 1-2 thin layers of colour polish, I finish with a thin layer of top coat.
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri is my absolute Holy Grail top coat and I have gone through around 5 bottles of it since I was first introduced to it by the brand last summer. It is quick-drying, seals in polish making it last longer before chipping and also gives a high-shine look to my nails. I honestly can't recommend this stuff enough and usually get around 4 full days of perfect wear out of my polish before the first signs of chipping appear! Another topcoat worth mentioning however, is OPI's Top Coat. It gives similar results to Insta-Dri though it doesn't have the same quick-drying effects.
So, that's pretty much my nail care routine in a nutshell. It may seem like a lot but, really the only daily step is to use hand cream. The rest I probably only do about once-a-week when I refresh my nail polish and, to be honest, I find it quite therapeutic to set myself up in front of Grey's Anatomy or Gossip Girls and take care of my hands!