As a child you would always see me biting my nails and nibbling around the cuticles.
My mother tried various ways to deter me, including the foul-tasting ‘Stop and Grow’ I even had an uncle who offered to pay me £5 if I grew my nails. An incentive indeed, well, back then it was! I may have managed to grow the teeniest bit of free edge to triumphantly receive my fiver but swiftly bit them back down to the quick. Through my teens my grandmother would slap my hand away from my mouth (primed by my mother I expect) if I was spotted biting my nails, usually met with “What did you do that for? That hurt”!! Going forward It certainly didn’t stop me and I continued to be a nail biter into my early twenties.
The pivotal moment for me was one evening, sitting at a bar with friends, holding my glass, a throw away glance at my hand and oh my gosh, my nails! What a disgrace they were. Particularly my thumbs. Of course I had noticed before, I just hadn’t really realised if that makes sense.
I became very conscious of the appearance of my bitten, stubby nails and ragged cuticles.
From that evening onwards I made the decision to allow my nails to grow. It wasn’t easy and I had to really focus to break the habit. I had the odd slip up as the biting had become normality over the years, almost a subconscious thing. If I really set my mind to something I will usually achieve my goal and I did. I absolutely loved having lovely long nails. Nails to be proud of. Nails I could actually paint!
As I’d not properly grown my nails previously I was pleased to find that my nails were actually really strong and with a long nail bed (which helps) this being down to genetics of course, so I thank my parents for my good nail genes! That said, like everyone else I do suffer with the odd breakage occasionally.
Mainly (in my opinion), due to fact that I use a ridge smoothing buffer and often I’m a little over zealous as I like my nails really smooth! This ‘over smoothing’ weakens the nails. My breakages tend to happen on the nail bed itself and so I have to wait for it to grow out to the free edge so that I can deal with it. Usually involving a pair of nail scissors and a distraught face.
Another factor is my love of the pointed or stiletto nail. I don’t go overboard with this look but I do love long-ish nails filed to a mild pointed shape and nude in colour. Yes, I know! These factors are causing more breakage than I’d like and in the last couple of weeks I’ve literally lost all my lovely nails to splits and breaks. I’m currently donning a very short nail look which I’m not overly keen on!
On With The Maintenance
Nails, of course require a fair bit of ongoing and continuous maintenance.
If you let it slide you’ll notice a fairly rapid decline in your nail health and appearance. I can be lazy with mine here and there until I can no longer bear to see them in such a way. I’m too busy doing ‘this and that’ plus finding the time to spend up to an hour or soon my nails and then letting the polish dry fully before resuming normal duties.
I’m not the biggest fan of heading off to a nail bar to get my nails seen to. My wedding nails were the last time I entered a nail bar in fact. I’m just too commitment shy when it comes to my nail colour and I begrudge paying a further £10 to have the colour soaked off. (I picked and peeled off my wedding nail colour after a couple of weeks) SHHH! Luckily my nails weren’t affected by this and I was free to choose a different colour again! This isn’t recommended of course, you may not be so lucky
Firstly, I soak my nails in some warm water with a dash of fresh lemon juice. The juice acts in two ways, to clean and brighten. Lemon juice contains strong natural bleaching and antibacterial properties so it’s perfect for nail soaking! I soak my nails for a good five minutes or longer if needed, I then use a metal hoof stick to gently push back my cuticles. My cuticles have a life of their own and soon take over if I don’t keep them in check. I use cuticle pliers to nip off any excess and neaten them up. I will re-soak them if I need to and repeat the process I then leave them a few minutes to Harden back up.
Buff, smooth and shine
Next, I go in with my 4-way buffer. Ridges removed, I then use the smoothing side of the buffer to seal the nail and then finish with the shine side. I don’t tend to use the filing side as I prefer to use a separate nail file. I moved away from the traditional emery board quite a while a go in favour of the crystal or glass file. that said, I could no longer suffer that ‘nails down a chalkboard’ screeching noise generated by the crystal file so I returned to a professional type of emery board and oh my gosh I’d forgotten how much more effective these are, They get the job done in half the time!
Shape, of course, is your personal preference, as I mentioned earlier I tend toward the pointier style, for the moment at least. I think it’s a sexy look and done right doesn’t have to look trashy and who doesn’t want sexy nails!? This requires some length of course, (something I’m lacking as I write this post, due to recent mass breakage) Nail shape fashions dictate shape plus there’s the off-duty model look which is usually a shorter neat natural nail which will always remain a fashion look staple. Fortunately, my nails grow pretty quickly and so it won’t be too long until they’re back to their former glory. Nail fashion is fluid and everyone has their own likes and dislikes. A few years ago I had really square nails with a french manicure. I still Love the French look for my toenails but not really for my fingernails.
The baby French
Recently I’ve seen what Essie call the ‘Baby French’ this is achieved by using their sheers to you pink from the Treat, love and colour range. It’s actually a treatment and colour in one! The pink blends with your natural nail colour and contains brightening pigments which give an instant healthy glow to the nails. Apply one coat of treatment pink allow to dry then follow with a coat of ‘blanc’ across the free edges then finish with another coat of the pink. The perfect barely-there French mani. There is also a lavender with neutralising sheer lavender pigments which looks equally gorgeous. Blanc is my latest Essie purchase in readiness for summer toes! (and baby French fingernails)! replacing my old gloopy white from a set which I’ve had longer than I should’ve.
Powered by Apricot…
Nails really benefit from a good nourishing oil used daily and massaged into the cuticles. You will soon reap the rewards but you’ll need to be persistent. My oil of choice is Essie Apricot nourishing oil. It comes in a standard type polish bottle with a brush for easy application. I paint the oil over my entire bare nail and massage in. This helps the new nail which is forming beyond the cuticle so that when it grows through it’s as healthy as it can be. I will also regularly apply it to my cuticles after painting my nails to keep my cuticles moisturised.
If I’m painting my nails I will always use a base coat. I use Essie Nourish Me base coat to keep stains at bay and to encourage stronger nails. When I decide to go bare nailed, or just a coat of a sheer pink the last thing I want is stained nails as this looks awful… I speak from experience!
Speed up the drying process
Finally, another Go-to Essie nail product of mine is Essie Instant Dry Oil. I’m terrible at smudging my freshly painted nails, mainly because I’m always rushing around, I catch my nails on everything which is really frustrating. I do the lip test with my nails, they seem dry but then I reach into my bag for something (as you do) and that’s my mani’ ruined. So If you want to dry your nails pronto look no further than this oil. This amazing stuff is a polish protector, which helps prevent scuffs and smudges. I apply it to my freshly painted nails and it speeds up the drying process brilliantly. Just use a drop or two though as it is an oil and can get a little messy otherwise! It seals in the colour and helps my mani’ last a bit longer!
The Nourish Me base coat isn’t so readily available right now, but there is a selection of equally gorgeous base coats available at Essie if you would like to browse the range.
What’s your nail maintenance routine?
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