Shitty nails run in my family. With the exception of my sister, we all have very weak nails that are prone to splitting and that are most polished looking when they are kept filed to the natural nail line and allowed to grow no further. Between the lot of us, we have tried every conceivable treatment and old wive's tale (raw jelly, anyone?!) to try and get them long and strong but, to no avail. However, over Christmas, Kev's mam encouraged me to try once again to get some length into my nails by following her own preferred regimen and, as is the case with most things she suggests, she was right.
To get some initial length and strength into your talons, you will want to go down the gel route. As my sister has a UV lamp at home (bargain from eBay if you're after one), Kev's mam suggested trying one of the at-home kits. I had a sample of the Red Carpet Manicure Must Haves sitting at home thanks to Cloud10Beauty (who incidentally have the best prices on it) so, that worked out nicely.
The trick, according to Kev's mam, is to prep your nails as directed by the manufacturer, apply one layer of base coat, cure it under the lamp, and then apply a second layer, making sure to "cap" your nail along the upper edge to seal it and ensure there are no loose edges which may snag. This clear gel base effectively gives your nails an opportunity to grow inside a suit of armour and reinforces them.
The beauty of doing this is that (a) you get 1-2 weeks of strong nails and (b) can paint any nail polish on top the gel coat without disrupting it. Once my nails had gotten obviously longer and I was getting a bit fed up with the removal process of soaking cotton balls and wrapping my fingers in tin foil, I decided to move on to Step 2 - OPI Nail Envy.
We have talked about this stuff before. We both adore it because it actually does work. I filed my newly grown nails into a nice shape, did some much-needed cuticle work and then attacked my nails with a buffer. A manicurist once told me that you have to buff the nails pre-polish to make them even and less porous so, that's what I do. Every second night, I would apply a coat of Nail Envy and my nails continued to grow stronger and harder and longer.
And, then, I stopped.
I realised that, no matter how elegant they make my hands look, long nails just aren't for me. I spend upwards of 50 hours a week bashing away at the keyboard - long nails get in the way, chip and look untidy. I lift in the gym four times a week - long nails dig into my palms, catch and snag when trying to manoeuvre plates onto bars. I have a thing about dirty nails - longer nails seem like magnets for all things nasty.
Now my nails are filed shorter but, I am still using the Nail Envy to keep them strong. If long nails are for you, this is how to go about getting and maintaining them. If not, join the club!