gel manicures

My Nail Care Routine

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!

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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!

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#OperationNailGrowth

I’m currently in the process of growing my nails out. Woof.

This time last year, I had some serious claws – and I miss them!!

Sometimes, I can't even believe that these were are mine!!
Sometimes, I can’t even believe that these were mine!! Loved the almond shape.

I go back and forth between wanting long nails & super short nails. I’ve had baby nails for a couple months now, so I’m currently longing for some growth. 🙂

Being cursed with thin & weak nails, the *only* way for me to see serious growth is via gel manicures. These manicures last me [a week, minimum] & do a great job at preventing nearly all splitting or breakage. SO, a gel mani was in order…

Current mani: Gelish "Garden Teal Party"
I opted for Gelish “Garden Teal Party”

QUICK SIDE NOTE: I tweeted a photo of my mani last the weekend & got some social media love from Gelish [so fun]! At least they think my nails look amazing. 😉

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Since I’m trying to make my manicures last  as long as possible during these growing pains, I’ve been using my little manicure-lasting trick…

I’ve been able to prove time & time again, that if I paint over my gel manicure with regular polish, the mani lasts at least twice as long.

I was really loving my Garden Teal Party and wanted to paint over it with a similar shade. I recently had these polishes delivered in my Julep Maven boxes…

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Julep – Tazeen & Lissa. LOVE!

The teal was exactly the color that I was looking for, but I was dying to use this amazing full coverage glitter as well – so I opted for an accent nail on my ring finger. Stupid me wasn’t paying close attention while I was painting my second hand and I painted right over my ring finger with the teal. SO, I compromised & made my index finger on my right hand the accent nail. I can’t say that the mis-match has been bothering much!

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Here’s to hoping this mani lasts me another week! Come onnnnnn long nailllllllsss!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to drench them in cuticle oil every hour. 🙂

Sally Hansen, of course - my all time favorite oil!
Sally Hansen, of course – my all time favorite oil!

What do you do to help grow your nails out?

Any tips?

 

 XOX

Spring Manicures – 9 & Counting!

I feel like Spring has just begun, but from the number of colorful manicures I’ve already rocked…you’d think the season was long gone.

I’ve been going back and forth from gel polish to regular polish, from dark colors to light colors, from short nails to long nails and I’m loving the variety.

If you follow me on Twitter, or Instagram, you’ve probably seen most of these manicures, but I wanted to do a full recap on the blog.

Get ready for some serious, mani-porn!

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REVLON: Midnight. I went out to dinner with one of my best friends and she was wearing a fabulous navy/green/dark blue polish, I couldn’t stop staring at the color! Once I left dinner, I had to have it. I’m not sure which brand she used, but I went to CVS picked up this dupe. I nabbed this bottle at the end of March, but I WISH I had purchased it during the Fall/Winter. I think it’s way too dark for the Spring time, but I’m glad I was able to sneak one wear in. This polish will definitely be making a return this Fall 🙂
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New York Color (NYC): Manhattan. This is an all time favorite of mine. While it’s clearly more of a Fall/Winter shade, I wear it year round. This was a quick mani – obviously not my best work lol. But a great color, nonetheless. Plus, you can’t beat $1.99 bottles!
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Sally Hansen: Coral Reef. I have a history of adoring basically every Sally Hansen product ever made, and we can just add this polish to the list! Such a great spring color, super girly, super Springtime, super fab. For $3.99, it’s an excellent drug store steal.
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Wet N Wild Megalast: I Need a Refresh-Mint. This polish has some positives and negatives. Good news first – awesome color! When you want pastel, baby blue nails, this is what you have in mind. Thick brush for applicating is always a plus too. Bad news – if you do not wear a base coat… this polish will stain your nails. Seriously, stain. I knew I would just be wearing it briefly, so I didn’t bother with a base coat and now, over a month later, I still have blue remnants on my nails. Definitely not a good look. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the polish…just be sure to use a base coat! 🙂
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Gelish Mini: Orange Cream Dream (Candyland Collection Spring 2012). I purchased this color last Spring when it came out & had not worn it until recently. I was in the mood for something different and decided to give it a try. It has great coverage and a nice shimmer – it wore very well. While this polish was part of a Spring collection, and I really did like it, I think it’s better suited for Fall.
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Gelish Mini: He Loves Me He Loves Me Not (Love in Bloom Spring 2013 collection). I could go on for hours about how much I love this entire collection! The Love in Bloom line is hands down my absolute favorite of the Gelish Mini polishes. This particular color wore so well – excellent coverage, not streaky at all. Added bonus – the deep purple/pastel shade seemed to match everything I wore!
Gelish Mini: Sweet Morning Dew (Love in Bloom Spring 2013 Collection), and Gelish Mini: June Bride on my ring finger. Ahh, another LIB favorite! I wore this manicure on Easter to compliment my yellow H&M lace dress (see below). When I think of Spring, I think of this color. It was the perfect blend of pastel peach, pink and orange shades. A full coverage polish, super feminine!
Gelish Mini: Sweet Morning Dew (Love in Bloom Spring 2013 Collection), and Gelish Mini: June Bride on my ring finger. Ahh, another LIB favorite! I wore this manicure on Easter to compliment my yellow H&M lace dress (see below). When I think of Spring, I think of this color. It was the perfect blend of pastel peach, pink and orange shades. A full coverage polish, super feminine!
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Sweet Morning Dew for Easter Sunday 🙂
Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips: Bling it On. I recently decided to break from gel manicures for a bit, just to give my nails a break, and I opted to try nail stickers! They claim to last for 10 days and come in an assortment of fun designs and patterns. I selected these pink glitter strips and was shocked by how easy they were to apply! Totally fool proof. I left mine on for about a week before I got bored & wanted a change, but they held up very well!
Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips: Bling it On. I recently decided to break from gel manicures just to give my nails a break. So in the meantime, I opted for nail stickers! They claim to last for 10 days and come in an assortment of fun designs and patterns. I selected these pink glitter strips and was shocked by how easy they were to apply! Totally fool proof (tip: use a base & top coat). I left mine on for about a week before I got bored & craved a change, but they held up very well – perfect for an event or fun night out!
Nina Ultra Pro: Violet it Ride. My current obsession! I picked this Nina polish up at Sally's Beauty Supply over the weekend and have been literally obsessed with it ever since! (When I say obsessed, I mean you can go through the photos on my iphone and 9/10 of them will be manicure shots). The polish looks like a very vibrant, neon purple in the bottle, but it wears slightly less aggressive - it has little more pink to it. Regardless, it's unlike any polish I've ever worn and I am SO in love with it right now!
Nina Ultra Pro: Violet it Ride. My current obsession! I picked this Nina polish up at Sally’s Beauty Supply over the weekend and have literally been obsessed with it ever since! (When I say obsessed, I mean you can go through the photos on my iphone and 9/10 of them will be manicure shots *See below). The polish looks like a very vibrant, neon purple in the bottle, but it wears slightly less aggressive – it has little more pink to it. Regardless, it’s unlike any polish I’ve ever worn and I am SO in love with it right now!
I love how the color changes with the lighting. I can't help but snap a pic every.single.time!
*Told you…and these are just 6 shots! I love how the color changes with the lighting. I can’t help but snap a pic every.single.time!

So there you have it. In the last two months, I’ve had nine manicures! I’m not sure if that’s normal, but it only really pans out to one per week – c’mon, that’s not terrible!

I love experimenting with new colors and straying from my usual go-to shades, I’ve been picking up a ton of polishes here and there for the Spring & Summer. I can’t wait to share 🙂

What polishes are you loving this season? If you have a new color to recommend, I’d love to hear!

Gelish “Starburst” & “Rendezvous” Manicure

After about a 3 week hiatus, I am back on my gel manicures! I was missing my long lasting, shiny, strong manicures. After posting about the new Gelish Candy Land Collection I was dying to pick up their new yellow shade “Don’t Be Such a Sourpuss”.

They were nearly out! They had one of each color, except for "You're So Sweet, You're Giving Me a Toothache" which luckily, I already had!

I was so excited that there was one left…it appeared to be a pastel-yellow, but when I took a closer look, it was much more Frenchs Mustard-ish…with a hint of shimmer. I was so bummed, I didn’t end up getting it 🙁

I don't think I'd care to look at this color on my nails for 2 weeks lol

This Sallys had a poor selection of Gelish colors in general, so I didn’t end up buying anything new. I got home and decided to work with colors I already had.

I chose to work with Gelish Starburst and Rendezvous.

I used Rendezvous, a deep magenta/pink on all of my fingers except for my thumb, and ring finger…which were painted with Starburst.

I'm not sure that I love these colors together, but it was something different! (Rendezvous isn't as red as this picture would suggest)
Day 5: Still chip free and shiny 🙂 (Oh I've missed manis that last longer than 2 days!) This shows a more realistic shade of "Rendezvous"

UPDATE: (I like to note the longevity of my gel manicures) I tweeted a picture of my manicure on day 11…it was still holding up, but I am really ready for a change.

Day 11

How-To: At Home Gel Manicures

I am a devout gel mani enthusiast and regularly do them at home. People are always asking me where I get my nails done and are surprised to learn that I do them myself. It is SO much easier than you’d think. Those contemplating buying a kit for home, I would highly suggest it. I wanted to share just how easy it is with my step by step tutorial:

(Just a heads up- I use a combination of OPI Axxium and Gelish products. Gel manicures consist of a base coat, nail color, and top coat. Mixing products is not totally taboo)

(My friend Stephanie sent this to me! ^ I died when I saw it, I had to share :))

Okay, so here are my nails at the start. I had experimented with tips the week before so they were looking pretty rough to begin with…

1) Using a buffing cube and nail file- buff and shape your nails until they are smooth on top and have your desired shape/look.

2) There is a clear, liquid solution that is applied to your nails before you begin applying any polish- it helps dry out the nail so the gel will adhere (I apologize, I forgot to photograph it-nothing too exciting lol).

3) Base coat. This is a Gelish Mini Foundation base coat- apply a thin layer to all nails on your first hand without touching the surrounding skin or cuticles.

4) Cure nails in the UV light for about a minute.

*TIP* Don’t touch your nails with anything but the polish brushes throughout the manicure until they are completely done, beacuse they will be tacky each time they come out of the UV light.

5) Paint your first coat of color onto all five nails, again making sure to refrain from touching the edges of your nails or cuticles. I chose to use “Exhale” a Gelish Mini color.

6) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

7) Apply second coat of color.

8) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

9) Apply a thin layer of clear gel top coat. I use the OPI Axxium top coat.

10) Cure for 2 minutes.

11) Spray all 5 nails with the nail cleansing solution to help remove any tacky-sticky residue. I use the NAS-99 nail cleanser that comes with the OPI Axxium starter kit.

12) Rub each nail with a cotton ball to remove the solution and tackiness.

13) Repeat steps 1-12 on your second hand.

And there you have it! Your nails are 100% dry, super shiny, and should last for about 2 weeks!

If you have a steady hand and like to do your own manicures, I would highly suggest investing in your own gel manicure system, it is definitely affordable and worth every penny! 🙂

Does anyone else do their own nails at home?

**UPDATE**

I wrote this post last Friday and waited a week to share so I would have an updated picture. Here are my nails this morning… 8 days later 🙂

They are still flawless, but I’m so tempted to paint them a new color! Decisions, decisions 🙂

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