Nail Polishing Basics

I’m currently trapped in my computer room at home while some guys install our new carpet in our living room.  I figured writing a new post is a good use of time while I’m a prisoner in my own home.

Here’s a mani I did a week or two ago for the Weekly Nail Art Challenge (#wnac2015) on instagram.  IMG_4810  The prompt was neon tribal.  I started with a white base of nail polish and then used neon craft paint for everything else.  I did the black lines first and then added in the color. I just sort of winged it.  (I always want to say “wung it”, but I know that’s not a word.)  I looked at a bunch of tribal prints on line to get some good ideas before I started, and then I really just made a bunch of diamonds and triangles and dots and circles and lines on my nails.  I sort of regret that I didn’t take a picture of my right hand, since all 10 nails were different.  The lines on my right (or Cinderella) hand weren’t as straight and crisp and the ones on my left hand, but it turned out decently enough. These suckers were time consuming!  They took around 2 1/2 hours on a Friday night in front of the TV.   I get that spending that long painting tiny shapes might be infuriating and painstaking for some people, but for me it’s sort of therapeutic and relaxing.  We all have our own thing, right?

Okay now, let’s cover some nail polishing basics.  This is all stuff that I either figured out on my own over the years or that I learned from some of the amazing nail guru types that are out there.   Here’s we go.

1.  Do the stuff in Nail Care Basics first.  Now that you have done that, you are allowed to move onto step #2.

2.  Start with clean nails.  I don’t just mean that you should clean the dirt and nonsense out from under your nails, although that’s always a good thing.  For nail polish to really adhere to your nails, you need to remove any and all oil and lotion from your nails.  A good drying soap, like dish soap that breaks down oil works well.  For extra measure, you can whip your nails down with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. If you have a lot of problems with your polish chipping really quickly, you may have naturally oily nails.  There are nail dehydrators out there that might help.  They typically are in a little bottle and look just like clear polish.  I’ve never used one.  I think in my old age, my nails are probably naturally kind of dry.

3.  Apply a base coat.  This will do two things: it will protect your nails from staining and it will help the polish adhere.  There are a ton of base coats out there, so you might have to try a few to find one that works well for you.  I covered based coats a little more thoroughly here.  Since I wrote that post, I have found two more base coats that I like.  The first is Orly Bonder.  This is a “rubberized”  base coat, so like the Revlon base coat, it feels like rubber cement on your nails when it’s dry.  The Orly base coat is a lot thinner than the Revlon one, so one bottle seems to last forever.  I don’t feel like it wears quite as well as the Revlon one, but it’s a great value since one bottle lasts so long.  Another thing I really like about the Revlon base coat is that it is sort of thick, so it fills in any ridges you might have on your nails. The other base coat that I’ve been using a lot lately is Rejuvicote.  I don’t feel like it wears as well as either the Orly or the Revlon base coats, but it really works well to strengthen my nails.  If you have weak nails or nails that are prone to pealing, you might want to give this a try.  With Rejuvicote, I can really grow my nails as long as I want them.  (They start to drive me nuts when they get too long, so I sort of keep them a medium length.)

3.  Roll your polish.  Don’t shake the bottle like a crazy person.  If you do that, you’ll get little irritating air bubbles in your polish which will show up as your polish dries.  Just roll the bottle on its side between your palms.  I’m good, so I can just roll the bottle with one hand.  Just kidding.  The one-handed roll is not hard to do.

4.  Load your brush with the right amount of polish.  All polish is different, but generally, I pull the brush out of the bottle and wipe off one side of the brush on the bottle neck.  You want to transfer a decent size drop of polish onto your nail without having a bunch of polish drip all over the place in the process.

5.  This is maybe the most important thing: DON’T GET POLISH ON YOUR CUTICLES!  Seriously, this is what separates the5.10.14 002 pros from the amateurs.  I look at some of my old nail pictures and shudder.  Do you see that polish slopped all over my cuticles?  Oh the shame.   5.10.14 003Really, the only way to get good at not slopping polish all over your cuticles is to practice.  The best way that I’ve found to avoid getting polish on your cuticles is to take your polish brush (after you’ve loaded it correctly) and place it on your nail close to – but not touching  your cuticle.  Then sort of push the polish up as close as you can to your cuticle without touching your cuticle.  Then pull the brush down to the tip of your nail.  Lacquerized has a great little graphic of this technique. The only thing I do differently than she does is that I do the sides of my nails first and then finish with a swipe down the middle.  Figure out what works best for you.  JUST DON’T GET POLISH ALL OVER YOUR CUTICLES!…. So you messed up and got polish all over your cuticles?  There’s still hope for you.

6.  Do some clean-up with a little brush and some acetone.  I use the e.l.f concealer brush. This sucker only costs $1-2 and it works perfectly.  You should be able to find it at Target or Kmart, and I think Walmart is starting to carry e.l.f. products, too.IMG_4843 Just dip the tip of the brush into acetone and then give it a quick dab onto a paper towel.  Then use the brush to remove any polish that ended up where IMG_4843it wasn’t supposed to be.  To some degree you can clean up your nails with a Q-tip dipped in acetone, but you can’t really get into the tight placed with a Q-tip that you can with a little brush.

Apart from just using the little brush dipped in acetone to clean the polish off your skin and cuticles, you can also use it to get a perfectly rounded edge near your cuticle.  l  as you can see from the super-duper up close and unforgiving picture on the right my polish follows the curve of my cuticle with out actually touching it.  This is the goal, folks.  (By the way, over my white polish is Nicole By OPI – Party Bus and China Glaze – Point Me to the Party. I’m kind of loving this combo!)  After you get your polish all cleaned up and perfect looking, it’s time to…

7.  Apply a quick drying top coat.  There are lots of these out there.  I’ve used Seche Vite, INM Out the Door,  and Hoofer’s Choice, but I keep going back to NYC – Grand Central Station.  It dries so quickly and it’s so shiny and it only costs around $2!   I hear amazing things about Glisten & Glow HK Girl top coat, but I have yet to try it because I’m so happy with NYC.

So that’s it!  Your nails should look perfect now!  Seriously, it does take practice to get your polish looking perfect, so just hang in there.  It will come eventually.  Your thoughts, comments, questions, and tips are all very welcome!  Thanks for reading!

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April Favorites

IMG_4827So, before it’s ancient history, here are my April Favorites.  Let’s start on the left….

First up we have Bonita – Made to Envy.  It had been ages since I had purchased a Bonita Polish.  I used to buy them on IMG_4676occasion at Francesca’s when they used to carry them.  That was maybe 4 or 5 years ago.  Within the past year or so, I’ve noticed little Bonita displays in Kmart and Rite Aid.  IMG_3940I’ve seen at least 3 different bottle shapes, which is sort of unique for a nail polish line.  Anyway, I had been eying Made to Envy for a few months.  I’m a real sucker for teal polishes.  I have a good half a dozen shimmery teal polishes, so I had been telling myself that I didn’t need this one, too.  I can’t remember exactly how or why or when I finally caved and bought this, but am I glad I did!  the thing that makes it unique to my collections is that it is a one-coater!  And the color is just so rich and beautiful!  And it’s only $2.49, so I’d definitely recommend picking this baby up, if you can.

Just for comparison, here on the left is NYC – Precious Peacock.  Although it looks much more green in this picture than Made to Envy, they really are super close in color in real life.  This is four coats of Precious Peacock.  Four coats.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Back to Made to Envy… It’s just so pretty. Sometimes I just hold this polish and stare at it lovingly.   P.S.  My hubby really likes this one.

Next we have NYC Prospect Park Bloom.  After wearing a lot of bright polishes, I was craving something neutral.  This one was in my untried stash. IMG_4728  This polish is pretty sheer, so I think this took 3 coats.  I just love how shiny it is and how soft the color is!  Neutral colors like this are really forgiving if your application isn’t perfect.  Heck, there could be all sorts of polish gunked on my cuticles, but you wouldn’t even be able to tell.  The best thing about colors like this is you really can’t tell when they start to wear or chip a little.   I’m not sure how this polish would look on someone with darker or more olive-toned skin, but if you are a bit on the pasty white side like me, this will work well for you.

Next is Fresh Paint – Honeydew.  Really, I’m kind of embarrassed to even put this polish in my favorites.   This was in both my February and March favorites.  When I’m looking to pick out my Monthly Favorites, I don’t really look at (or remember) what polishes I picked the month before.  I just look back through my instagram account for the past month and pick out the polishes that I really liked and/or used a lot.   Apparently, I’ve been fixated on this polish for at least 3 months.  I specifically picked it as an April favorite because I used it for both of my Easter manis.  This polish is one of those neon pastel type colors that is all the rage these days.  I realize that this polish is exclusive to Five Below, which is not really convenient for lots of you.  Sorry about that.

Next up is NYC – Sidewalkers.  This is just a plain old grey polish.  (I like “grey” better than “gray”.  I feel like the spelling with an “e” just looks nicer.)IMG_4688   Anyway, I went through a phase 3 or 4 years ago where I wore this polish all the time, but in recent months, it’s just been sitting on my shelf, unloved.  I pulled it out to use as a base for my pastel ikat nails for a nail art challenge (#wnac2015) on instagram.   It made me remember how much I like this polish!  It’s such a pretty cool-toned polish that works well for pale people.  I’m sorry if I’m not much  help to you darker skinned people.  Maybe I should just do a post on the colors that look awful on my, assuming that would mean they would look good on darker people.  Not sure if that’s solid logic or not.  P.S.  My hubby does not like this color.

My final polish China Glaze – Sun of a Peach.  That name just cracks me up!  I used this polishIMG_4667 in one of my Easter manicures, and it was just so bright and pretty!  In general, I can’t really pull of orange, but this shade is one shade in the orange family that I can actually wear pretty well on my nails.  I had been wanting this polish for a while, and I found a little mini bottle at Sally Beauty Supply for like, $1.29 or something, so I couldn’t really turn that down.  Mini bottles are just the best, aren’t they?  I mean, they don’t cost as much as a full size bottle, they don’t take up much room on my nail rack, and really, it’s a rarity that I finish a full size bottle of nail polish anyway.

So, that’s that.  Thanks for reading!  Seriously, I appreciate all of your comments and “likes”.

Nail Care Basics

Check out my nails!

IMG_4758These neon citrus nails really have nothing to do with what I’m writing about.  I’m just really happy with how they turned out!

I’m super happy to have gained some new readers lately, and that made me realized that a review of the basics of nail care is in order.  Here we go.

1.  If your nails aren’t as long as you’d like them, keep some kind of nail strengthener on them to help them grow.  Right now I’m using Rejuvicote.  It’s about $10 and one bottle is lasting me forever.  I’ve heard good things about OPI Nail Envy, and Sally Hansen has all sorts of nail care products that can help your nails grow.  Just keeping polish on your nails adds an extra layer of strength to your nails.

2.  Pick a shape for your nails.  Right now I’m rocking “squoval”.  I like how square nails look, but the corners of my nails feel sharp and scratchy, and that drives me nuts.  Because of that, I file my nails straight across the top, and then round off the sharp edges just enough so that they don’t bother me. I don’t ever cut my nails.  If they start to get a little too long for my liking, I just file them straight across with a glass nail file.  A glass file, by the way, is not nearly as harsh on your nails.

3.  For heaven’s sake, push back your cuticles.  Pushing back your cuticles instantly makes your nails look longer and gives you a larger surface area to polish.  You can buy fancy tools to do the job, but you don’t need them.  I generally push mine back when I’m in the shower.  After your cuticles are softened by the water, just take the thumbnail on your opposing hand and use it to gently push back your cuticles.

4.  Moisturize.  You can use cuticle oil for this, but any good, heavy hand lotion will do.  I generally moisturize throughout the day, especially after I wash my hands, and at night before bed. The only time you don’t want to moisturize is right before you polish your nails.  It will keep the polish from properly adhering to your  nails and your polish will be chipping off in no time.

As far as nail care goes, that’s all I can think of right now.  I think I’ll follow this up with Nail Polishing Basics and Nail Art Basics…. I’ll call this my Basics series.

Thanks for reading, commenting, subscribing and whatnot!