I get asked all of the time about my nail care routine. How do I grow them, shape them, keep them long, what products I use, how I do my own manicures – so many questions…which I’m always happy to answer!
I’ve drafted this post many times, but had yet to publish it (warning: it’s very long)! After receiving nail care Q’s from my most recent #ManiMonday (well, #ManiTuesday) Instagram post, I decided it was time to finally wrap this up & get it live!
As a disclaimer: Part of the reason you’ll always catch me with a great manicure, is because I’m a bit obsessive about it. I keep my nails so nice because I LOVE keeping them nice – it’s a full time hobby & I enjoy it. So, while my tips & tricks will 100% help you – you’ve got to make sure you actually follow through & stick to them. With a little TLC, you can definitely achieve some fabulous, natural nails!
So without further ado…here we go!
1) Cuticle oil. The holy water of nail care.
I’ve stressed the importance of cuticle oil many times before, but it really is my number 1 tip! Adding a cuticle product to your daily beauty routine will literally transform your nails & nail beds. Keeping them hydrated on a daily basis will help them grow, prevent hangnails, and repair any dry or damaged cuticles.
I use a variety of different cuticle oils, balms, butters, and creams – but I do have a few current favorites:
– Pop-arazzi “Too Cute-icle Oil” I’ve only been using for about 2 months now, but I’ve fallen in LOVE with this product! It smells like fruit punch and has a mini eyedropper for the easiest application. You can find it at CVS for only $2.99!
– Gelish actually sent me a bottle of Nourish a couple of years ago and I was blown away. The oil is a bit thicker than Pop-arazzi & you apply it with a brush, but it works just as well, if not better. You can find it online or in your local Sally’s Beauty Supply store for around $5.00.
– Lush – Lemony Flutter. This cuticle butter is sold exclusively at Lush & is a bit pricier at around $17.00 a tub, but trust – it’s well worth the money, and little bit goes a VERY long way! Many times I’ll also use it on my hands & feet! The best part? It smells like PEZ. It can be a bit greasy, so just be careful when & where you apply it.
*TIP: Leave cuticle products where you know you’ll use them. I keep them by my bed, in my desk at work, and in my purse. Always reapply after washing your hands. 🙂
My obsession with hand moisturizer rivals my obsession with cuticle oil. The main benefit of using a hand lotion is to prevent any chapping, cracking or chafing skin -gross. The oil ducts on palms and fingers are tiny compared to the rest of the body, so hands get chapped and dry out much easier. Moisture loss is a major cause of nail brittleness and breakage – regular moisturizing combined with the use of a cuticle product is a winning combo!
I don’t have one lotion that I prefer – any kind that you like will do! I usually like a floral or vanilla scent.
*TIP: A lotion built to benefit both hands & nails is a great option for those who’d prefer to carry just one product… 🙂
3) Hair Skin Nail Vitamins. A recent addition to my regime!
I’ve tried to taking HSN vitamins a few times before – with unfortunately, very little luck. Until now…
I tried the Country Life Maxi Hair Time Release vitamins – they had awesome reviews, but I could not stomach the scent or the size! I don’t like swallowing pills to begin with, so for them to stink AND be so large – I could’t do it. 🙁
I also tried Sephora’s Phytophanère, but didn’t notice any major results. Again, these had wonderful reviews! They were significantly smaller than the Country Life pills, and pretty much odorless, but they were pricey ($60/2 month supply bottle) & claimed to take 3+ months to see results. I only finished one bottle and didn’t notice any change. 🙁
That brings me to my most recent vitamin discovery! Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies. I’m a sucker for gummy vitamins…I feel like they second as a snack. I started taking these in the beginning of February 2015 on the recommendation of a friend and I’ve LOVED them!
These gummies smell AMAZING and they taste like pink Starbusts (I have to hide them from my boyfriend, he eats them like candy)! Not to mention, they really work! My nails have suffered ZERO major chips or breaks in the last 2 months and have been consistently growing. 🙂
4) Round Nails. The best shape…for me!
I’m always experimenting with nail shapes. Square, squoval, round, almond, stiletto…I’ve tried them all!
My nails suffer less breakage when they are round or almond. Since they’re naturally pretty weak, the sharp corners of the square shape usually doesn’t fare well. My nails also tend to curl inward when they get too long – kind of gross, I know – so round nails help with that as well!
*TIP: File & shape your nails when you have polish on. It’s easier to see what you’re doing & helps keep them all straight & even. 🙂
5) Gel manicures. The miracle mani!
My love for gel mani’s runs deep. When they came on the scene a few years ago, I was FLOORED. They have changed the life of my nails forever. I am a devout Gelish user, which is a soak-off product. When removed properly, I don’t notice any damage. However, NOT ALL GELS ARE CREATED EQUAL – be sure you’re using a soak-off gel polish before getting your next mani!
*TIP: For a long lasting, flawless gel mani – leave plenty of time to do your nails, do not rush through the process. Set yourself up in a clean space & be sure all of the tools/products that you’ll need are handy. Keep the polish away from the cuticles and always cap the edges. Here’s a super old How-To post that I put up in 2012. 🙂
6) Acrygel. The most brilliant manicure technique.
I read about Acrygel this past Fall & it has changed my manis forever! It’s so effective, I wish I had known about it sooner! It’s a very simple trick: you apply a layer of gel base coat to your nails & then sprinkle or dip your nail in acrylic powder before curing the polish. Mind blown. You get the strength of acrylics without the damage, and it soaks-off as a gel manicure would. Sometimes I’ll do two coats of Acrygel and then paint over it with regular polish, or continue with the steps of my gel mani…either way gives me thicker, stronger nails.
You MUST try this!!
7) Be careful & take care!
In my opinion, the easiest ways to ruin a manicure or break a nail are by: A) using your nails as tools or B) submerging your fingers in water for too long.
Do not use your nails to lift open a soda tab, to peel off a price tag, to open boxes, to attach a key to a ring…nothing. There are other things that can be used! Be careful getting in & out of the car, when buckling up, when cleaning, when doing a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. It sounds obnoxious, but it’s possible. I’m a huge DIY girl, I’m always assembling furniture, cleaning the office, my apartment, or my car, changing light bulbs, moving heavy things, carrying groceries, etc. And very rarely end up with a broken nail. Just be cautious!
Water can also be a manicures worst enemy. Do not wash dishes without gloves. Throwing on a pair when you need to tackle the mess in the sink is too easy not to do. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to figure out what to do about hot showers. I find that after a week or so, my gel manicures start to lift during a hot shower. Taking quicker showers & shaving my legs in the tub before or afterwards definitely helps. And saves water! 😉
Phew! Well, there you have it, 7 of my go-to tips, tricks & products! That may have been the longest post I’ve ever written. If you made it to the bottom of this page, THANK YOU for reading it through. I’m sure I could come up with a million more suggestions & tips, but these are some helpful, basic, everyday tricks to get you started! 🙂
If you have any other nail tips or favorite products – let me know below!
Great tips! You have beautiful nails! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you!! 🙂 I’ve always been really into my nails, more so as I’ve gotten older. If only I cared 1/2 as much about my hair! #MessyBunForLife
MINDBLOWN! 😀 I’ve never heard of this! Thank you!
I’m glad that you found some of it helpful :)! I’m also so happy I found your blog I love your polish reviews!
I loved it all 😀 Thank you so much! The feeling is mutual!
Thank you for the tips! My nails have been so weak after using gel tips for so long. Thank you for suggesting the gummies – had no idea! think I need them in my life 🙂
You’re so welcome – thank you for reading!
And yes! Everyone should have them in their life – they’re delicious 🙂
Hi Amanda —
I’ve been thinking of doing acrygel with regular polish over it, as I often don’t want one color for a full two weeks, but regular polish on my naked nails lasts all of two days before chipping. And I remember that years ago when I had acrylic nails regular polish would last on them forever. Two questions for you..
1) How long do you usually get with regular polish over acrygel?
2) If you are doing regular polish over acrygel, do you do a gel topcoat first and then put the regular polish over that? Or do you do polish directly over the cured gel base+acrylic powder?
Thanks so much! You’re the only blogger i’ve found talking about this acrygel + regular polish combo!
Hii!! Thanks for reading!! 🙂
Regular polish over the acrygel definitely lasts me longer than a normal manicure. I’d say a solid week *at least*! Usually longer. I don’t apply a gel topcoat over the acrygel/before the polish, I’d paint the color directly onto the dried acrygel – I think it adheres better. Depending on the polish you’re using, it may take 3 coats because even when buffed smooth, the acrygel tends to appear a little gritty…but certainly looks fine once polish + topcoat are applied!
I personally love acrygel, I find that it really helps prevent my nails from breaking when I’m trying to grow them out. And I can change the color multiple times without removing the acrygel base [just use a non-acetone remover to get the color off]. But when you are ready to remove, be sure to soak off w/ 100% acetone. In my opinion, it comes off much easier [+ quicker] than both gel or acrylic.
I hope that helps a little!! Good luck!!! 🙂
i’ll rather be cautious because i don’t use nails as tools to make weaker but thanks for the tips manda