Tuesday, 31 July 2012

China Glaze ~ Turned Up Turquoise

This has to be the hardest polish to photograph. Ever.

Because of this I present you with one measly picture. Now imagine this one brighter. Neon bright. And maybe a little bit more blue. And a little bit more green. Just a bit… more.
Turned Up Turquoise is lovely, and a very fun colour to wear. Just a shame it misbehaves so on camera! It’s the polar opposite of the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.

Application was good, and the polish dried quickly. It has a neon finish (my least liked finish of all, possibly bar frost), so in the picture I’m wearing top coat. The glossy finish really brings out the pretty microshimmer.


Do you have any polishes that are really camera shy? How do you deal with them? (And I don’t mean talking to them in a threatening voice)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Nail Restoration: Third Step ~ Shaping the Nail

I love the look of a square, slightly tapered nail. Unfortunately I have been blessed with hands that are stubby rather than elegant, but I do what I can with what I have :)

The steps I will be showing you here are to create the shape I prefer, which is a square-ish nail with slightly rounded corners. I love a proper sharp nail, but end up cutting myself on my nails. Not terribly cute. “Hey, did your cat scratch you?” “No, I cut myself. On my nails”.

So by now my nails are looking somewhat better. The cuticles are in better shape and the nails have stopped peeling so much. They have also grown a bit. It is definitely time to take care of the shape!

So this is where I’m at at the moment, ready to shape them:


About nail files:

My favourite file is the blue one at the bottom of the picture. It’s a bog standard nail file with a fine and a slightly coarser side. Files are expressed in grit strength, with a higher number meaning a finer file. I don’t know the specific grit for this particular file, but the fine side is about equal to a glass file.
The file in the middle is a glass file, and I know a lot of people love them. I do like them, but don’t particularly find them superior to a nice “paper” file.  The benefit of them is that they are very fine and thus gentle, and that they don’t wear out. On the other hand they do break if you aren’t careful to store or carry them properly.

Whichever file you choose it’s important to pick one that suits your nails. If you have damaged, weak, peeling or soft nails I would recommend a higher grit (or glass), as they are a bit gentler. Whatever you do stay away from files for acrylic nails. They are designed to quickly eat through plastic, and are not suitable for a natural nail. They make for kickass foot files though ;)

In the top of the picture there is a 3-way nail buffer. I only use this in the way I will show in the step-by-step, and not as a buffer since even the most gentle buffing makes my nails peel. If your nails can stand it, a little bit of buffing is a nice way to gently smooth peeling or remove some staining.


Shaping the side:

I like my nails to have a slight taper in the free nail edge. I want them ever so slightly narrower at the top than the start of the free edge.

For this step I hold the file at a 45° angle, with the file slightly under the nail. I drag the file from top to bottom (sort of UNDER the nail), rather than left to right.
DO NOT hold the file like I’m showing below:

You can seriously damage the nail if you dig in to the sensitive cuticle and nail at the sides. ALWAYS only file the free edge of the nail.


Shaping the top:

To shape the top of the nail in a square (flat) shape, I hold my finger as shown, and position the file at a 90° angle from the top of the nail. It’s important to take into consideration the angle of the file both in relation to the top of the nail (“profile”), and the width of the nail (“en face”). So basically, if you are holding your finger side on in front of you, your file should show 90° relative to the nail, and you should only see the short end of the file. Holding one eye closed can help to get it right.

This method works for me, but of course you can also just file the nail across when looking at it from the top rather than the side.


Evening it out:

When I’m happy with the basic shape from the step above I turn my finger so I view it from the top, and file up and down on the nail to get it perfectly even. In other words I’m not filing from side to side, but rather dragging the file towards and against myself. This makes the flatness of the file work for me, rather than having to adjust my tilt when filing. I use a very gentle hand when I do this, as well as a high grit.


Softening the corners:

When the nail is nice and square I will soften the edges slightly. I just run the file over the corners to blunt them a little.


Sealing the nail:

Here I have switched to the buffer.
I use the super fine grit of the buffer to seal the edges of the nail to prevent fuzziness and peeling. I run my nail along the buffer. This will usually get rid of most of the “burrs” you get from filing.

Then I will gently make a curve with the buffer from the top and downwards. And that’s it. Done!


Here is a little reminder of where I started a few days ago:


And here is how they look after my third step:



Read the other parts in the series here:
First Step ~ Cuticles
Second Step ~ Protect the Nail Plate

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Nail Restoration: Second Step ~ Protect the Nail Plate

Now that my cuticles are looking somewhat better (still a long way to go though!) it’s time to start looking a little bit at the nail itself.

My big issue at this time is peeling. I have strong nails that won’t often break, but they do peel.


Products used:

Nail strengthener: I absolutely swear by Nail Tek Foundation II. It works incredibly well for me. There are other options as well, depending on what your nail needs. Some people use OPI Nail Envy with great success, but for me it makes my nails very brittle and prone to breaking. I love how Nail Tek Foundation II is also a ridge filler. It is my go to base coat and nail treatment.

Moisturizer: I use a simple home-made vegan lotion throughout the day. I use my Nail Tek straight over this without washing first, and have had no problems with flaking polish. Use your best judgement here – most people find the polish adheres better to a completely clean, dry nail.



The process for this step is very simple, just slap the nail treatment on! I prefer to do one coat, but will add more over the days as needed.


Before applying the strengthener:

As you can see my cuticles are still very damaged, this will take some time to heal. At least now there are no dead cuticles sticking to the nail plate, interfering with growth and health. My nails are naturally very ridged, they have always been like that. Something I have my dad to thank for lol.


After applying the strengthener:

As you can see the Nail Tek dries very matte. I like that! It makes polish stick very well. It also dries very, very quickly, which is a plus when you are impatient lol. Take care not to get any products on your cuticles. These special treatments often contain ingredients that aren’t great for the cuticle.



Read the first part in this series here:
First Step ~ Cuticles

Friday, 20 July 2012

Nail Restoration: First Step ~ Cuticles

You can’t have healthy nails without healthy cuticles, so my first step on the road to nice nails is to remove excess and dry cuticles.

I choose to do so with a cuticle remover, but you can get the same result by soaking your fingers in warm water for a few minutes instead. I prefer cuticle remover since it feels less messy, and because I feel like it “eats” at the cuticles and not just softens them.

Let’s get started!


Products I use:

Clockwise, starting at the top (middle):

Cuticle remover. I use Blue Cross, which works very well, but I want to make it clear that it is NOT vegan. It contains lanolin. The bottle you buy is absolutely ginormous, so I have decanted a little bit into an old polish bottle. The active ingredient is Caustic Potash which is a strong base that will eat away at your cuticles.

Tissue. To keep the cuticle remover from dripping, and to wipe off “gunk”.

Orangewood stick. This is definitely my preferred tool for cuticle care. I do NOT like metal pushers or scrapers. I find them way too harsh, especially since the nail will also be softened by the cuticle remover. One side is flattened, and one side is pointy.

Cuticle nippers. I could not live without these. The ones I own are ancient, and of really good quality. It pays to get a nice pair since they will literally last you for life.

Cuticle cream. I use pure shea butter here, since it is rich and nourishing. And I have run out of my home-made vegan cuticle butter.

Plastic place mat. To protect my surface. It’s a very cheap place mat I cut to a size that works for me.


Applying the cuticle remover:

I apply a very liberal amount of the Blue Cross. I take the brush straight from my little bottle without wiping off excess, and let the product pool and run along my cuticles. I repeat this until my whole cuticle area is totally saturated with liquid.


Removing the dissolved cuticle:

After maybe a minute (some people say less, but my cuticles are stubborn!) I start gently wiping away any loosened cuticle with my orangewood stick. I like how the wood acts as a gentle exfoliator in itself, since it provides a bit of friction. I start off by rubbing along the surface of the nail, with the flat side of the stick flush against the nail. I run the stick back and forth with short strokes.

After I am satisfied with the nail surface I repeat the same process on the skin surrounding the nail.

Finally I run the stick (just once) under the nail from one side to the other. I find I don’t need to apply any product specifically under the nail since the Blue Cross is so liquid, but if you are using a gel remover it’s a good idea to apply the product there as well.

I always do my thumbs separate from the rest of the fingers, because of the liquid nature of my remover. I do the thumb first, and then the remaining four fingers in one go. If you find that the remover eats away too fast, keep it to one or two fingers at a time.



When you work away at the cuticles there will sometimes be little bits poking out that you can’t remove with the stick. This is where the nippers come in. You should NEVER cut the actual cuticle, but for these little hang nails and loose bits the nippers are unrivalled. Keep the flat part of the jaw parallel with your finger, and don’t “dig” the tip down. Always be gentle and use discretion. If you are unsure about using them, just don’t. In the picture you can see that I’m pulling the side of my finger taut with my thumb to make the little piece I’m about to cut easier to isolate.


Wash, scrub and dry:

When you are happy with the results from the previous steps it’s time to wash the hands. I use a soft nail brush and scrub my nails thoroughly, both across, up and down, and underneath. After washing them I dry them with a towel, and use my opposite hand’s thumb to push the cuticles back on all fingers. This is a good habit to use EVERY TIME you wash your hands. It will definitely help to lengthen the nail bed over time. There is a chance that scrubbing and pushing will reveal more little bits of skin sticking out. Just gently nip those as well with the nippers.


Nourish and massage:

My final step is to take a really rich cuticle cream and massage it in for a good few minutes. The massage will both help the product penetrate and provide a circulation boost. I use pure shea butter here as I have run out of my home-made cuticle butter, but you can use any rich cream you like. Lemony Flutter from Lush is a popular choice, as well as Burt’s Bee’s Lemon Cuticle Cream. Neither of those are vegan, but they are cruelty free (although I have heard that Burt’s Bees might not be).


That’s it for the first step! The important thing now is to keep pushing the cuticles back after every hand wash, and to MOISTURIZE. Don’t limit the moisture to lotions either, make sure you drink plenty of pure water as well.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

I’m baaaack!

And boy, does it ever feel good!

I have now spent what feels like an eternity selling, donating, throwing out, packing up, travelling, living without furniture (two weeks peeps, two weeks!), putting together the finest IKEA furniture, unpacking and cleaning. Phew!

As much as I love love love our new flat (complete with FURNITURE!) my nails are probably the saddest they have ever been.

But fear not, as of today, in celebration of being the proprietor of a brand new (massive!) desk, project “get nails happy and pretty again” shall commence.

And since I am both a little bit nice and a little bit cruel, I invite you to come along with me on this journey. That’s right, I will show you the state of my poor little fingers as they are, naked, sad and terribly neglected, and hopefully document their journey to some semblance of human nails. Or at least nails that won’t look like your boyfriend’s.

So, now I have warned you that there will be pictures. And have no doubt, they will scare you. Hopefully not so much you can’t sleep, but if that should happen, please don’t sue me.

To start off I will show you my new work space. Ahhhh. So big. So BEGGING to be used for nail painting and blogging, don’t you agree?



And now, ladies and gentlemen. There will be dryness. There will be peeling. There will be hangnails. There will be unevenness. There will be overgrown and torn cuticles. Are you ready?




Almost worse than my Zombie Hands! Now that that’s over, it’s time to get these babies in shape again! I plan on showing you how I go about doing a manicure, painting my nails and so on. If there is anything in particular you want me to touch on in a tutorial please let me know in the comments or an email.