Monday, February 15, 2010

Naked Nails & Nail Maintenance

Well, I started putting this post together last week & kind of fell off track, but as a result I have an example of how much my nails grow in a week. Here they are last Sunday:

And here they are today before filing - a little whiter also, I have been trying various things to get rid of the yellowing that developed when I switched my base coat for a while - this week's test was salt water & I didn't think it did much until I see these pics side by side with last week's. Also, they are 100% naked above, below you can see I'm wearing 3 patches - right middle, index & thumb for peeling:

I really didn't want to take them down, but it is unfortunately still winter, and they were a little too long for my gloves. Plus with the dry weather, they are more brittle than in summer & I felt that if I tried to keep them all long, I'd probably lose at least one or more to a break sooner or later. So I took a few millimeters off & generally evened them up a little all around. I know a lot of bloggers only file their nails with polish on, but I've just never gotten into the habit, I like filing them while naked. Err - the nails LOL =) I still like them at this length & I hope this will be my last length-check due to winter weather:

So, now I've got a few tips & pics around my maintenance routine, after several inquiries last time via comments & emails. I hope this helps out anyone who is curious, and if you have any questions I don't answer, please feel free to leave a comment or drop an email.

So, the first step is of course removing whatever is currently on my nails =) I use the Studio Tools brand of remover, in purple (supposedly strengthening) which I get at Target. It's cheap & it works:

I also have the 100% acetone kind, but I only use that for cleaning up, cleaning Konad plates or other nail art stuff, or if I'm wearing glitter. Otherwise it's just too drying.

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up a huge box of cotton at Sallys. It is 1200 feet of non-reinforced cotton, and I think it will be interesting to see how long it lasts me LOL:

So I tear off 10 pieces of cotton:

And then soak each one with remover & stick on my nails - they stay pretty well by themselves if you just kind of fold them over at the edges. Athough I have seen around that some people prefer to use foil to keep them in place & keep the remover from evaporating, I find that's just an extra step I don't really need:

I do one hand at a time, and let the cotton sit for 2-3 minutes, depending on how many coats of polish I'm taking off. If I'm taking off a color I know is stubborn, or glitter, I will switch to the 100% acetone to soak with. After a few minutes have passed, just kind of wiggle the cotton a little, and pull the whole thing off your finger. Your nails should be 99% clean of polish & you can take one more cotton to clean up the remainder, or use the flip side of the one you just pulled off:

So, after I've removed old polish, I like to wash & exfoliate my hands. & then moisturize. For a while I was using the Satin Hands system from Mary Kay:

Left to right: Extra Emollient Night Cream, Satin Smoothie Hand Scrub, Satin Hands Hand Cream. I really like this product, it's a 3-step system (there used to be 4 steps ... but they changed the formula & now there are only 3) that's scented kind of like peaches, but I got mine as a gift, and the actual price is a little more than I'm willing to pay. So lately I've been using products from the California Mango line, which is still not exactly cheap, but cheaper, and easily available at Sallys:

The tubes are the Mango Buff (Exfoliating Scrub) & Mango Extreme (Hand Cream), the big tub is Mango Mend which is a really strong, sticky moisturizing goo, and the 2 other bottles are the Mango Magic oil - the small bottle I actually use for application, and the big refill bottle. Mango is another of my favorite scents so I love that about all this in addition to how soft they make my hands.

Since I do my nail routine in the evening, around this point in the process it's usually time for a break for dinner =) Which allows all the moisturization I just did to soak in before I have to make sure my nails are clean for painting.

For a while I experimented with different base coats, but as I said above I started getting some staining so I went back to my old faithful. I will still use other base coats on occasion - for example Nubar Foundation if I'm wearing Nubar color, because it seems to make the mani last better - but for the most part my go-to base system is ProStrong, and I just got a new kit in the mail a week or so ago. I included a shot of the instructions page, I think it should be big enough if you click to enlarge for you to read if you're interested:

The 3 main products that I use out of this are the ProActivator pen, which is like a prep for the base coat, then the ProTough as my base, and the Finishing Sealer to set it. The ProTough works as a ridge filler, and it also works a lot like a sticky base coat, giving good adhesion with pretty much all polish.

Their polish remover is top notch, and I will use it sometimes for glitter or other tough polishes, but is unfortunately another product that I consider to expensive to buy on it's own for regular usage, so I just get the little bottle that comes with my set. I do not use their topcoat very often since discovering Seche Vite, but I've recently found that it is a pretty good topcoat to use with nail foils. I buy my Prostrong from QVC, mainly because I have a membership there & a lot of the time I'll add other things to my order =), but ProStrong also has their own website. Just from some quick browsing their prices seem comparable.

Once I've got my base coat on, I'll add a coat or 2 of color, maybe some Konad or nail art, and then top it all off with a coat of Seche Vite (which I'm pretty sure you all know what it looks like so I'm not including a pic LOL). After I put on my color, I do usually clean up around my cuticles with acetone & a small brush. I think this little bit of extra drying time may be what keeps Seche Vite from causing shrinkage on me. I see some other bloggers talk about that but it's never been a problem for me. I always wrap my tips, and sometimes also the side of the nail if they're getting long or I'm having a little peeling.

So, I think that's everything! As I said, if I left anything out, leave a comment or email with any questions. Thanks for reading.



  1. This is so informative!!!

    Your nails are amazing. I can't believe they grow that much in one week. I'm so jealous!

    Thanks for the great post :)

  2. Your nails are so beautiful. I wish mine would get that long, without getting mangled

  3. I wanted to thank you for the nail maintenance info. I found your tutorial on silk wraps to prevent splitting and after assembling 2 Ikea desks this weekend I split 4 nails. All but one were able to be saved using the tutorial you posted. I am looking forward to using the wraps to get to a more healthy stage and then following todays info.

    Thanks again!

  4. Great cotton technique! I'll try it next time

  5. I am a mango addict! I use it on my feet, too...smells so good!

    And I, too, like to file naked...LOL!

    Your nails are stunning!

  6. Wow, great post! Maybe I should try the nail wraps..they look like they might help my nails, because they're always tearing and peeling all the time!

  7. My nails are bare right now and are unfortunately yellowed so I was over at Sally's thinking about a new base coat and I thought to myself "I wonder what Colette uses...". Thanks for reading my mind lol.
    Ps. I also file naked! ^.~

  8. Thank you for giving all these hints, I already read the one on patches and will try soon!

  9. EVERYONE - Thanks & you're welcome =)

  10. Hi Collete,
    I'm a new fan and I have been reading your post for a couple of days now and then I stumbled into this one. I keep reading / hearing about patches or silk wraps. Are you talking about the same thing? I would love to know where I could get one. My nails are long as well but with 2 kids I ding and bang them a lot into things. I normally would just grab a nail glue until I bang it again and then I cut it off. Would really love to know more about these patches.

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Thanks for commenting! I will read every comment, and try to respond to any questions =)

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