Sunday, June 17, 2018

How I do my nails!

While I'm no BeAuTy GuRu or nail blogger, I do spend a lot of time painting my nails! (2019 update - but I DO have a #nailstagram!) I find it really fun and relaxing to just hang out and paint them while watching shows and winding down after a long day. I'm also obsessed with glitter and holo, and I express that by putting it on my nails. I do get a lot of questions about them so today I thought I'd share a run down of how I do my nails and some of the products I regularly use! (Disclosure: affiliate links ahead!)

Without a doubt, the question I get most often is how I grow my nails long. Not to be a smartass, but the answer not break them. If you can manage to not break your nails then literally all you have to do is be lazy and not cut them until they've reached your desired length. Eventually you'll get used to being lazy, and let your nails grow too long (there is such a thing), because you can't gather the energy to cut or file them down. I'm only being a little sarcastic here. Anyway, some of the tips I'll be sharing will help you not break your nails, which in turn will bring you long nails. There's no miracle drug to grow long nails overnight, so get ready to take some notes!

I'm also gonna share some gratuitous nail pics. Here's one right now!

Before I dive in I just want to clarify that I'm in no way a pro or certified to give any "real" advice! These are the things that I find work for me, after lots of trial and error. Also I'm just going to be upfront and say not all of these items are natural/vegan/anything...we're about to go to chemical city. I do strive to lead a more natural and waste-free life, and I actually am getting much better at it! But I haven't found good options for that when it comes to nail stuff yet. I'm especially looking for a reusable alternative to cotton balls that will work to remove glitter polish. PLEASE comment below if you can recommend something! ANYWAY. I want to help you and am open to answering any questions you might have, but please keep in mind that what works for me might not work the same way for you. Now let's get to it!!

STEP 1. Everything starts with clean nails. Even if you're not wearing any polish, it's important to wipe them down with some nail polish remover to have a clean, oil-free start. Leaving the natural oils on your nails will make your manicure chip faster because it won't stick as well. My favorite nail polish remover is Onyx Professional 100% Acetone. It's great for getting glitter polish off. Soak it on a cotton ball, let the cotton ball sit on your nail for a minute or two, then just rub it off! If you're not a slave to the glitter gods, you can probably get away with most other removers, because this one smells intense. It also helps to get all that dead cuticle shit off your nails (another thing getting in the way of a long lasting manicure). I usually order mine on Amazon, unless I happen to be at WalMart (it's cheaper there). After you take off your polish, it's time to work on your cuticles. While not necessary, I like to use Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover to soften things up. Then, gently push back your cuticles with an orange wood stick or even a reusable cuticle pusher (I like to keep both on hand, the reusable one for me, the orange sticks for when I'm doing someone else's nails)!

STEP 2. File away snags! Always file away any snags or super sharp points. Stiletto nails are cool, but they're also prone to breaking more. Anything that can get caught on something is a break waiting to happen! Keep your nail shapes rounded if you're trying to grow them out. I'm not super picky about my nail files, but make sure you're picking something with some grit to it...but not too much (#helpful). Those flimsy orange ones you get at the grocery store are shit and will just make things worse. Currently I'm using these from Ulta. Professionals will tell you to use glass files, and I guess they're right. However I just can't bring myself to use them's like scratching your nails on a chalkboard [cringe]. So yes, I use the nail files of plebs. Everything has been fine so far. The only important thing is to file in small strokes, in one direction. No back and forth sawing motions! When you're done filing, go wash your hands and scrub off all the dead shit you just filed off. Now we can start the fun stuff!

STEP 3. Don't skip the base coat. Next it's time for your base. There's lots of choices out there and many focus on different kinds of nail problems. Base coats help keep your nails strong, helps the longevity or your mani, and prevents some (not all, sorry) staining. I feel like most nail problems are fixed with a good base and top coat (we'll talk about top coats later). Base coats should dry with a tacky finish, not a smooth and glossy one. Top coats and base coats are not interchangeable. Stay away from polishes that say they're 2-in-1 base and top coat. They're a lie! And don't trust anyone that says otherwise. One of my fav basecoats is this Revlon Quick Dry Basecoat. If my nails need a bit of TLC I'll use Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. Avoid things that have "hardeners" and instead look for things that will improve nail flexibility. Making your nails hard as rocks might seem like a good idea, but flexibility is where it's at. When nails that are too stiff are put in a compromising position, they'll snap off. Flexible nails will...uhh, flex, but stay intact. Still hurts like a bitch, but you pick your battles.

STEP 3.5. Coat the tips to protect from liquids. Water makes nails weak! Coat the tips of your nails with polish as well (or at least with your base coat) to keep them locked up and dry. If your nails are long then give the undersides a coat of your base polish as well. Be careful in situations that make your nails super wet. Like showering or swimming. I'm always accidentally bending my nails when I get out of the shower and I HATE IT, but what can ya do (good thing I use that cool base coat to improve nail flexibility *wiggles eyebrows).  It's also a good idea to wear rubber gloves if you wash your dishes by hand!

STEP 4. Apply your color in thin, even coats, and let each coat dry before moving on to the next one. Waiting between coats is one I'm bad at (so impatient) - but it helps! Nails that are completely dry won't feel tacky or cold. The ice water trick is also a lie, so seriously just put on a tv show and WAIT for them to dry. I don't really have any tips on which brands to use for your polish colors. In my experience, polishes from any price point will work just fine if you're wearing a good base coat, top coat, and apply all polishes properly. While I do have a few pricier polishes, I also have tons from the 99 cent store, and most of them work fine. If you like neon colors I'd say those are worth spending a bit more on; cheaper ones apply very thin and it takes a MILLION coats to get them opaque (neon polish tip - start with a coat of white polish, then apply the neon on top). Another painting tip is DON'T FLOOD YOUR NAIL BEDS with polish. This is when you use too much product and it pools up in your cuticles and the sides of your nail. If you do this you won't get a proper seal, and your polish will start to peel off. If you do get a bit of flooding going on, just make sure to clean it up a bit before it dries. I like to do this with small ELF makeup brushes dipped in acetone (DON'T use your fancy makeup brushes, acetone ruins brushes over time, so just use a cheap one and replace it when it's done for). You can also use those orange sticks again.

STEP 5. Seal everything up with a good top coat. If you only splurge on one thing, make it a good top coat. A good quality one will double the staying power of your nail color. Both of my jobs are really hands-on, and when I'm not working I spend a lot of time clacking away on my keyboard. My paint jobs usually last about two weeks (even after 2 weeks they usually aren't that bad, but they do start to look a bit dull, plus you can start to see a little nail growth). My favorite top coat is Seche Vive. It gives your nails a super shiny, gel-like finish! Slightly cheaper is it's sibling, Seche Vite (yes, the names are stupidly similar, one is spelled with a V and the other with a T). Personally I like ViVe a bit more, but I also use ViTe a fair amount. Besides, I don't always want/need my polish to last for two weeks. I'd also recommend getting a bottle of Seche Restore, because the stuff gets thick and goopy after awhile. A few drops of Restore and your top coat will be like new! You can also use it with any other polish you have that's old and sad. It's like magic!

Other tips and tricks:

1. MOISTURIZE. Whether it's nail oil, cuticle salve, or regular lotion. Moisturize your situation. Massage it into your cuticles. It keeps your nails happy and healthy! My favorite is Lemony Flutter from LUSH. It's a bit of an investment, but a little goes a long way - this tub will last your FOREVER. Also, if you're a cuticle picker (I used to be!) then the BEST thing you can do is start moisturize them.

2. Stop biting them!!! If this is a bad habit of yours, it's time to cut that shit out. Look, I've been there, ok. I know it's hard. And I don't really have any tips on helping you stop, it's just a mind over matter thing. Maybe these facts will help sway you. I can say that for me, keeping my nails painted helped. Because if I bit my painted nails then they wouldn't look cute anymore. Plus chips of nail polish in your mouth is not fun.

3. Don't pick off your polish. This is one I'm guilty of. When I feel awkward or anxious, I pick at my polish. But this is a terrible thing to do, because it can also peel off the top layer of your nail, making them super weak. I always regret it when I do this, and can immediately feel the difference in my nails once the damage is done. This is ESPECIALLY important if you are wearing gel polish!! Never, ever, ever pick off gel polish!

Phew. We covered a lot of ground today, friends. This is the first time I've explained my entire routine in depth. Please let me know if you have any other questions! If you found this post helpful, then I'd really appreciate a follow on my nail page - @natalie.patalie.polish!

Feel free to share pics of your nail accomplishments in the comments!! Show off your nail art skills, the #1 thing I cannot do in any capacity!