Nail Tools! (AKA the nail procedure post part 2!)

June 23, 2010 at 7:08 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I do love my blog, but my attention waivers sometimes. Please bear with me and I’ll attempt to keep the posts coming.

Today we’ll be discussing once again my nail procedures. Now, these procedures are not absolute as everyone has different nails. This is what I do. I find these products and items work for me and my nails. I will try to write reviews on some products in this post.

My nail supply bag. This surprisingly holds most of what I need to do my nails. It has ample space and little pockets so whatever I feel I’ll need to do my nails with is within view and easily accessible should I need to grab it with wet nails. I purchased this from a craft store for a relatively cheap price and it holds together very well.

1. Nail polish remover. I stated before that I prefer to just use the 100% acetone. It can be drying but I find it removes everything the best and without excess tugging and scrubbing of the nails. Some nailgals say their nails hurt after polishing and it may be the force they use to take off their polish. It is necessary to be gentle with the nails because being too rough can make nails ache and also can create grooves in the nail given enough force.

You can see here I use the smaller bottle of 100% acetone. I have the larger bottle as well and keep both on hand. When I clean up my manicure and remove polish from my cuticles and make a ridge, I like to dip my brush straight into the little acetone bottle.

I use cotton rounds from any dollar store when I take off my polish. I know these can be very stringy and fiber-y, meaning the fibers come off and stick to your fingers and nails. The fibers come off with acetone, so as long as you’re careful they aren’t a big deal. I usually use 5-10 to remove my manicure, so one little $1 bag of 80 can last from 10-20 manicures depending.

2. The next step is crucial, and it is base coat. The bottle in the middle is what I use and wear on my nails at all times. It is Nail Tek II for soft, peeling nails. My nails are no longer soft and peeling, but they used to be soft. Base coats are like vitamins. You take vitamin C to protect your immune system, but you wouldn’t just stop using it once you felt your immune system was strong. I continue to use Nail Tek II to let it continue to help my nails. This basecoat dries very fast and is shiny.

The other two are topcoats, which are equally as important as base coats. I can’t stress how important a lot of things are in having a truly successful manicure. Not that I am some manicure nazi who will beat you down if you don’t follow these steps (*slams down hammer*) but if you want to collect nail polish and enjoy it to its fullest, most people will say you need a basecoat and topcoat.

Seche Vite is my go to, holy grail, I would perish without this product, topcoat. It dries in 10-20 minutes or less depending on how many coats of polish you use. As I stated before, I have tried many topcoats, and Seche definitely performed better than any of them. Gone are the days when ladies had to sit carefully for 4 hours while their polish dried!

My own holy grail item has become Barielle Manicure Extender. Once Seche Vite does its job, I use the Manicure Extender after 5 minutes or so. It seals the manicure and prevents chipping amazingly. I broke a nail once and it was obvious that the Manicure Extender did not want to break. A tiny piece chipped off and the rest stayed nicely in place. Barielle Manicure Extender has even saved my manis in the shower. Usually, due to the fact that nails expand and contract in heat and cold, my polish will literally peel off after a shower, but I find if I wrap my free edge with it and then put it on top, Manicure Extender keeps my polish in place. It has made my manicures last for up to 5 days without chips. It may last longer, but I usually get bored after 4 days 😛

Another topic that definitely needs to be discussed is chemistry. Some people who use Nail Tek II can’t use it with certain polish or Seche Vite. Likewise, some people can’t use Seche Vite with any polish. Everyone has different chemistry, and this is reflected in their nails. I definitely suggest investing in some topcoats and basecoats and finding out what works best for you.

3. Nail polish thinner is a must in any nail care bag. Some polishes tend to dry out either due to their own formula or due to the way their bottle is constructed. Apparently Butter London is notorious for drying out due to their bottles, for example. Thinner can bring an old, dry polish back to life and can thin a difficult polish. I find I use thinner most often with Seche Vite. Although Seche is an excellent product, it can very gloopy and thick, which can cause bubbles on the nail and in the manicure. It also seems to dry less efficiently when its thicker. I prefer Orly Nail Lacquer Thinner, which is inexpensive and can be purchased online or in stores.

4. Tools for clean-up, for me, include acetone, an orange stick (a little tool made of wood useful in wiping away polish), and a little paint brush. Some nailgals use makeup brushes, but I prefer artist brushes. Artist brushes are made to withstand being washed, soaked in paint thinner, and other chemicals. A good brush will last a very long time. The particular brush I use it probably half a centimeter in width and is very thin. I plan to post a clean-up tutorial with more photos for people who are still in the dark about exactly how to clean up their cuticles and ridge area, so keep an eye out! 🙂

5. General nail care is perhaps even more important than anything in your routine. Beautiful nails can be tarnished by poorly kept cuticles. I always try to keep my cuticles tidy, and one very easy way is to use a cuticle remover. Cuticles grow like nails, meaning upward, and pushing them back helps, but sometimes cuticles are stubborn and pushing them back can lead to them looking ragged or thick. Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover is my favorite, and removes stubborn cuticles in 15 seconds. The product label warns not to use it for more than a minute. I find if you use it for too long or too often, it will make your cuticles dry and haggard. I usually try to use this product once a week.

The white and pink stick is what I use to wipe away my cuticle after I apply remover. You sweep back and forth in a half-moon shape and dab the excess off the stick. I dab it off onto a moist washcloth. This stick’s end is made of rubber and it is very gentle. After sweeping across the cuticles, gently push them back, alternating between pushing them back and sweeping across them until you feel all of the dry, dead cuticle is gone.

Another tool that is highly controversial in the nail world is definitely the cuticle nippers. These are the bane and love of many girls. I personally love my nippers, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to realize cuticles are crucial to nail health. Many nailgals will simply say to avoid nippers at all costs, but personally I get a lot of hang nails. This is the strip of dry skin by the side of the nail that sometimes pops up. It can be hard and pokey. Some girls will rip them off, which is painful, and this damages the cuticle. I use my nippers ONLY to cut this hang nail off when necessary. I do not ever use the nippers to remove my cuticles at the bottom of the nail unless they are sticking up and remover won’t get rid of them. Then, when this part of the cuticle sticks up, I very gently clip it away until my cuticle is the same thickness as the others. Cutting back too far can damage the cuticle, which can be painful, make the cuticle bleed, and has the potential make the nail infected. Caution should be taken when using cuticle nippers, but otherwise they can be a great addition to a nail kit and a part of the nail process.

6. Speaking of cuticles, creams and oils are what nailgals use to moisturize their cuticles. Like different chemistry that can affect basecoats and topcoats, it is truly at the discretion of the user whether they prefer to use oil or cream on their cuticles. Having tried both, I prefer creams, and I personally use Sally Hansen Healthy Cuticles Now, which smells nice and leaves the cuticles looking very moist.

7. Last but not least, nail files and clippers. I forgot my clipper picture. 😛 But it is best to at least buy a pair of clippers that is from, say, Wal-Mart versus the cheap dollar store kind. They may seem like they save money, but they are cheap and break easily. I got a Revlon pair for $1 that is perfect. Nail clippers also last a long time if they are sturdy. I prefer to clips my nails when they are moist, as in from a shower or after dishes. If your nails are strong, they are likely to break if you don’t soak them in some warm water first before you clip.

Nail files are just as important as nail clippers. There are emery boards, metal files, and glass files among a few others. Emery boards are the roughest, with some much like a rough sandpaper. These are also the cheapest and easiest to carry, as they come in various sizes. I recently received a pack of tiny emery boards that are literally an inch long apiece. Metal files usually have pointed ends. They can be a little more gentle and can last a long time, versus emery boards which can lose their coating. Glass/crystal files are very gentle on the nails. Mine are mini and I got them on ebay, but they can be purchased at any beauty store. Glass files are quickly becoming a favorite of nailgals everywhere. They glide more easily over the nail and can be used until they break with only a simple washing every now and then.

Although there are many steps that can be taken to make your nails beautiful, it is truly up to you. Certain things may not work for your nail routine, so it’s important to experiment with all kinds of products to find the right ones. Doing nails shouldn’t feel like a chore, but rather a fun, relaxing experience. Good luck!

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Finally! (AKA The nail procedure post Part 1)

March 31, 2010 at 3:13 am (Uncategorized) (, )

An official first post! I am sorry for my delay in posts, but I forgot for a while what my blog name was. XD

Anyway! My first post, and what I was planning, was to show you all my nekkids. That is, my naked, unpolished nails. I hope to take a similar photo in about 6 months to see the difference in my nails, if there’s any at all. I will also detail in this post what I do to my nails and the products I use. First! My nails…

This image is pretty much accurate. There is yellowing on my nails due to a polish I used a few months ago. I had just started to paint my nails again and I was admittedly very new to the polish world despite loving polishing my nails for years. I used a Maybelline in Seashore Darling, which is a beautiful pink-coral opaque glimmer. I hadn’t used a basecoat and it stained my nails horribly. >< It’s nearly gone but not quite!

That brings me to my current nail care routine. It seems very intense to people who don’t regularly do their nails, however it’s important to remember I usually space treatments out. I paint my nails anywhere from 1-3 times a week depending on my mood. Just keep that in mind. 🙂 This will be part 1, and I will update with part 2 soon.

Step 1: Remove all traces of other polish. I prefer to just use 100% acetone and get it over with. Some people like to switch between 100% acetone and regular, nourishing acetone. In my opinion, since I will be putting cuticle cream on my cuticles (obviously) and a nourishing basecoat in just a few minutes, I don’t feel it matters. Plus 100% acetone is so much more effective and faster. I usually use cotton pads to remove my polish. They don’t leave as many fibers as cotton balls.

Step 2: Basecoats! Basecoats, if you get serious about polish, are a must. They protect your nails pre-polish and during polish. I wear a basecoat at all times, no matter what. First, I use NailTek II. It’s a regular clear basecoat that strengthens your nails. On top of that, I use NailTek Foundation II Ridgefiller. This is awesome because it fills ridges in your nails, hydrates your nails, and dries to a matte finish. This means that this basecoat is essentially undetectable by just looking. I wear it to work and have no problems. It doesn’t chip off usually so there’s nothing to worry about and my nails stay very protected.

Step 3: Color. I think this explains itself. I usually always do at least two thin coats no matter what. I refuse to do more than 4. That’s silly. However, this does bring to light sheer colors. I usually dislike sheers and will typically swap them away because I don’t see the point, personally. I know some people love sheers! Not me. However! In some cases, sheers are necessary in my collection (I’m looking at you, China Glaze Atlantis…), and for that I HATE having visible nail line (or VNL from here on out). That is to say, the white line on your nail. I have been on the search for the perfect opaque nude to use under my sheer polishes and have come up with this solution:

Take any clear polish. Take a concealer in pigment/powder form that matches your skin. Put the powder into the polish and shake well. Voila! It’s easy and inexpensive usually, especially if you’re like me and just had these randomly lying around collecting dust. It’s simple and makes a huge difference in the look of your polish.

Step 4: Topcoat! No, not Top Gun. Topcoat! It’s essential in any polish look that you want to add shine and lasting finish to. I use Seche Vite, which is a very fast drying top coat. I also use Sally Hansen Clear’d for Takeoff, which isn’t super fast drying, but does add shine. Seche Vite is probably the best all-around topcoat, however it has a classic problem of getting too thick and also can shrink your polish, causing it to seem to move away from the edge of your nails. Thinner usually corrects this, and I’ll go over this in another post. I have used about half a dozen topcoats and have found SV works best for me. When I apply SV, I usually paint my nails on one hand, and by the time I am done painting my pinky on that hand, I am ready to apply Seche to my thumb and on. I find putting the Seche on right away like this makes it last much longer.

This concludes part 1! I will update in a few days with part 2 that will likely include the products I use before and after polish. Stay tuned!

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An Introduction to Michi

February 2, 2010 at 12:48 am (Uncategorized)

Hello everyone! I have been wanting to start this polish blog for several months now and finally I feel it’s time! Here I will post my nail photos and share some items and tricks I learn along the way!

To start, I live in West Virginia. My girlfriend and I live together in a small and cozy apartment. We have a cat named Kagome, a mouse named Persephone, and many, many fish! My girlfriend, whose name is Jenn and has her own blog on our fish (address to come at some point, I’m sure!), loves cars, and I love nail polish! We still manage to coexist somehow *lol*.

I won’t list my favorite brands because I feel every brand has something to offer. I will, however, post reviews on products I use on my own nails. In a few days, I will post my *naked* nails and will probably do so every month or so, just so you guys can see how any products I use helped me go from somewhat difficult nails to (hopefully) great nails! Hope you enjoy!

–Michi

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