Doing my nails is almost like meditating. Each Sunday I sit at my dining room table and post up with my nail kit and a cup of coffee and go through the process of tidying up my cuticles and painting my nails. At best, one small ritual makes me feel all put together for the rest of the week. (Even if I am decidedly not put together.) At worst it feels like a chore and polish is skipped in favor of filed nails with a coat or two of Dior's Healthy Glow Nail Enhancer.
Last year, after a series of manicures demolished my nails (peeling, breaking, ack!) I asked my mom (aka my beauty advisor) what products she liked for nail strengthening and poked around for the best of the best when it comes to top coats. I finally landed on a handful of products that have gotten me to strong-but-flexible, peel-free nails that are chip-less for a solid five days! Too good to be true? Nah, I swear it isn't and it doesn't take more than 20 minutes a week (plus dry time).
First up, deal with the cuticles. Most pros will tell you to not cut your cuticles yourself at home. I throw caution to the wind and do it anyway because I like a clean line around the base of my nail. The other way to go about it is to buff them off using a sanding/buffer block. No matter how you decide to rid yourself of dead, dry cuticles use Deborah Lippmann's cuticle remover to make it easier. I squirt a line along my cuticle line and dunk my hand in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. After they're all soft and ready to go I use my thumb nail to push everything back. If it's time to clip, I clip. If there isn't much there, I use a buffer block. Since using this cuticle remover, I've only had to clip every other week and I'm much less prone to get overzealous in my removal. Eek!
Next up: shaping the nail. There's lots of guides out there about which nail shape is best for you, but I go for a standard square shape. My favorite nail file is by Tropical Shine because it's got a very fine grit to it making it quite hard to misshape my nail or file off too much of it. For the bolder among us, I like a glass nail file. It's also has a super fine grit, but it gets the job done in one or two swipes as opposed to ten or more with a regular file.
When my nails totally went to shit the first thing my mom told me to use was a nail oil called Tips. Haters, you can hate at the QVC purchase, but it's the only place to get the stuff affordably. A two pack will last you awhile and you'll see results in about a week. I put the stuff on twice a day, morning and night, and it has changed everything I ever thought was true about my nails. They are flexible and ridiculously strong! Read: I can open a drawer and slip, catching a nail, and the nail doesn't break. If you do nothing else I say in this article, just buy this stuff and put it on twice a day.
I think the real reason my nails gave up on me was the chemicals standard nail products have in them. I'd read great things about Deborah Lippmann's formulas and decided to give them a try. Not only did her base and top coats not make my nails peel like crazy after use, they kept me chip-free for up to five days. As long as I'm not digging bike chains out of my purse every day, my hard work on Sundays lasts until Friday! Deb (she's clearly my bff now) gets extra points for having a flat top coat so I can feel oh so on trend with that matte look, too.
My lady, Lindsay, gave me Dior's Nail Glow for my birthday awhile back. Who knew such a simple gift would become a go-to product. For the weeks I'm not feeling a color or I'm too lazy to worry about painting meticulous lines, this is my stuff. You get a sophisticated glossy look and a translucent pink that makes your nails look extra healthy.
So that's it! This is my little routine and my favorite products! If you want to learn how to apply your polish so that it's not all over the place, check out this video. Doing your own nails saves your hard earned mula and really isn't that difficult, so give it a try!
Photo credit: Me! (Alejandra Owens)