I have a whole arsenal of products I use to keep my nails nourished, protected, and healthy. Do I really need all of it, probably not. But as a bored, quarantined, empty nester I have filled my time with this hobby, and maybe went a little overboard...just a little. There are essentially three habits that are in my opinion are the most important to have for keeping your nails in great health. After that there are extra steps/items you can add to your routine as you want.
- Cuticle/Nail oil. This is important as a well hydrated nail will generally bend and not break, it will also aid in helping solve peeling and cracking. It is important to at least do this in the morning and night, but I do it after each time I wash my hands. To simplify this I have nail oil pens all around my house, and take one with me when I go out. Also a good non-greasy, quick absorbing oil is best. Pretty much all indie polish makers create their own brand, most have fun scents and sell a variety of application methods, sizes, and refill options. However this can get expensive. An alternative is to make your own, and it's actually super easy. Natasha Lee has a good video on how to make you own and another on how to refill your pens. But refilling some pens can be a bit difficult, so you can also choose to use empty nail polish bottles, dropper bottles, doe foot tubes, or roller bottles. Whatever you find works best for you. I purchase my oils at Wholesale Supplies Plus
- Glass Nail File. I was surprised by how much I liked glass nail files. I had seen them used by many Youtube gurus, but figured it wouldn't make a difference. It wasn't until I received one in my Maniology Mani X Me Box that I started to use it and noticed I liked it. But even so it wasn't the best quality. There are ones you can get that are cheaper but are created by a sanding material being applied to the glass. A good quality glass file is created by the glass being etched to give it a super fine grit surface. I noticed a huge difference after using compared to my finest emery board nail files. The edges of my nails feel smoother after filing and I have noticed they split and peel less. A good set isn't all that expensive and should last a lot longer than an emery board, and they are washable. I always give mine a quick alcohol spray and wipe before I put away. I was also surprised that despite how fine the grit is they can take length down pretty easily, and you can take more off than intended if you don't pay attention..whoops. Mont Bleu makes a nice set (is the ones I personally use) you can purchase on Amazon for only $9.95. It's a set of three, a large 7.68 inches that I keep at my mani desk, a medium 5.31 inches I keep at my computer desk, and a small 3.54 inch that I keep in my pocketbook. They are surdy, but they are glass so dropping them could cause it to break so extra care is needed. Ultimately though when choosing look for ones that are etched.
- Never Naked. Always have some form of polish on your nails, base coat & top coat is a bare minimum. Your nails are not living tissue and do not need to "breath", leaving them unpolished leaves them more susceptible to breaking. There are many makers of top/base coats and it is important for each person to decide what works best for you. My personal favorite top coat for all manis are Vibrant Vinyls - Fast and Hard and their matte top coat You Matte-r is a favorite of mine as well. As far as base coats go I have several that I go between a few depending on what I need. I have pretty ridged nails so a ridge filler is pretty important to me, especially when wearing a multichrome or holographic polish. I have three that I go to, Vibrant Vinyls - Double Bond when I need my many to level well and last a long time, plus you can get it in the same scent as your top coat. If I want to level and strengthen and nourish I go to either Anchor and Heart - Mermaid Tears or I will also use Chirality - Factory Reset. Factory Reset is generally a week long treatment to restore damaged, weak nails. Excellent to use after nail extension removal, I also use it as a basecoat and it also levels well and lasts well. You can also use Mermaid Tears or Factory Reset alone in a couple of coats to protect if you just want to be somewhat bare. Both have a slight nude color. Other brands I use - Cuticula, and Glisten & Glow.Optional additional things I do
A really good video on how to do a perfect home manicure is Natasha Lee's Top 5 hacks to a perfect DIY manicure at home. I love her tutorial videos. Lastly never use your nails as tools. Use a spoon or tool to open pop tabs, use your knuckle to push buttons - elevator or microwave. All of these things will help you to grow stronger nails.
Additional products/resources I love and use.
- Unicorn Magic - Hand Cream, Deluxe Cuticle Rescue & other goodies
- Heather's Hues - WiTS Lotion
- Lilly Ann's Garden - Lotion
- Bliss Kiss - Simply Sealed lotion stick, I also recommend the Grippy pads - they are good for refilling oil pens and opening difficult polishes.
- Onyx Professional - Hard as Hoof strengthening cream