I use all of these products, sometimes interchangeably, sometimes daily, and sometimes every so often! Read on for details. Please know that any product mentioned here is what I've found in my honest and personal opinion works for me. That does not mean they are necessarily the best for you. I have not tried every nail care product on the market, but I am very satisfied with of all the products mentioned on this page because they continue to make my nails and hands super happy.
My #1 nail care product for long, strong nails and supple cuticles.
I have personally seen the following results:
- Stronger nails
- Longer nails
- No more brittleness
- Less prone to breaking/cracking due to increased strength and flexibility
- Reduction of 'clear spots' in free edge of nail
- Reduction of 'white spots' in nail bed
- Diminished ridges/uneven areas of nail bed
- Shrunken/diminished cuticles
- Tighter skin around the cuticle (less wrinkles)
- Soft, more supple fingertips
VIDEO TUTORIAL AT THE END OF THE POST!
Update Feb 2015 - - -
For tips on how to grow your nails, check out this blog post on how to grow your nails!
Do yellow nails mean they're unhealthy? NO. Watch this:
1. Nail and hand care for daily use at home or on-the-go
First up is my Bliss Kiss trio, all products from My Bliss Kiss. They all contain one essential ingredient to maintaining healthy nails and soft cuticles: Jojoba oil. I use the Bliss Kiss pure nail oil pen at work or when I'm out of the house for a convenient application of the oil to the nail (don't forget under the nail) without the mess. When I'm around the house or sometimes before bed, I'll apply the nail oil straight from the bottle by adding a tiny drop to each nail and then massaging it into the nail/cuticle. My Bliss Kiss sells a starter kit with a pen and a bottle, which is what I started out with before falling in love :). You can apply the oil at any time, whether your nails are painted or not. I generally apply it 3 to 8 times a day depending on where I am. It gets addictive cause it feels so soft!
I also recently got the Bliss Kiss Simply Sealed lotion stick after seeing the results I had with their nail oil. It's a very unique product as it comes in solid form like a lip balm, but melts with the heat of your body when you apply it to the skin. This product leaves a water-resistant barrier/film behind, which helps prevent water from penetrating the skin/around the nail, in turn preserving the nail's oils and preventing them from drying out. I use it in place of hand lotions, but I like to change it up every so often and will still apply hand lotions at other times during the day. I have the "crisp" scented version (there is also unscented), which is a refreshing citrus scent.
On that note, another nail care tip is to AVOID WATER. Yes, that's almost like saying avoid oxygen, I know. When water is absorbed by your nails they flatten out, are more prone to polish chipping, and become weaker as a result of reduced oil levels. Don't submerge your hands in water unless you have to (i.e., shower, please still do this), but if you're going to wash the dishes then throw on a pair of rubber gloves.
I've done a more comprehensive review of Bliss Kiss nail oil in a seperate post: click here to see my nail transformation in photos. To read more about what this nail oil can do for you, and for some amazing customer before and after photos and results, check out this page.
Next up, hand moisturizers. I have a collection of various hand creams, even more than is pictured below, but these are generally my go-to favourites. Not all of them may be specifically designed with nail care in mind, but if you want nice nails for photos, then you likely also want nice hands!
I love The Body Shop's vitamin E hand and nail treatment for its really great moisturizing qualities. It leaves the skin very soft, and rubs in well with very little excess oiliness. The only thing I'm meh about is the smell - it's fragranced with a very rosy/floral scent, and I'm much more of a citrus or vanilla-scented kind of girl. This is not to say that the smell is bad, it certainly smells authentic and not too artificial, it's just not my favourite.
For when I feel like having a sumptuously scented trail follow me around, I use True Blue Spa's Shea Cashmere & Silk hand lotion from Bath & Body Works. It smells like rich vanilla almond and rubs in leaving a very silky residue behind. It almost has a mattifying effect and doesn't appear oily.
Alternatively, I like Aveeno's Positively Ageless Skin Strengthening hand cream for when I feel like a hand cream but don't want an overwhelming scent. It has a very light scent that I can't really describe other than it smells like 'Aveeno'. It absorbs easily into the skin and is perfect for use prior to a nail photoshoot because it doesn't leave behind an oily residue.
I wear cotton gloves to bed after applying these products maybe every other night or when I feel like my hands and nails are particularily parched (after a weekend-long nail art marathon, perhaps). The cotton gloves let your skin breathe overnight but also keeps the moisturizers you've applied locked in to soak into your hands/nails and keeps them away from ruining your bed sheets. You can pick up cotton gloves at your local drug and beauty store.
Using a rich shea butter hand cream can really do wonders for your hands. I love the super rich moisturizing properties of True Blue Spa's Shea Butter Super Rich Body Cream. They also make a body butter which I'd love to try, but haven't got around to buying it yet. Clearly I'm almost out of this mini, so I best be going to pick up more soon! It leaves behind a very thick/oily residue, hence why I only really recommend it at night or when you're not going to touching much (definitely not your smart phone!).
Cuticle creams/butter offer extra softening and moisturizing benefits when you allow them to soak in overnight. I alternate between Burt's Bee's Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream and Hoofer's Choice Cuticle & Nail Cream which you can pick up from your local drug store and Sally's Beauty stores, respectively. The Burt's Bee's cream is more pomade-like in texture and Hoofer's Choice is like a very thick masque-like cream. Burt's Bee's definitely smells better (lemon), and Hoofer's Choice has a weird not-so-appealing smell, but hey, apparently it was invented for use on horses to keep their hooves healthy, so I'm not too surprised. That's why I only use it at night!
Next, I'll apply a generous amount of an inexpensive cuticle oil to my nails, cuticles and surrounding area in order to maximize the retention of oil in my nail area and minimize the drying effects of nail polish remover. I use a cheap cuticle oil as opposed to Bliss Kiss in effort to preserve my precious oil for when I'm not just going to be wiping it off. Pictured is Pro FX Apricot Cuticle Oil which I got at Walmart for under $5CAD.
To remove my nail polish I use Beauty Secrets nourishing acetone-based nail polish remover which you can pick up from any Sally's Beauty store. Many have argued that non-acetone based removers are better for your nails, but this is actually a myth because acetone is far more efficient at removing nail polish, thus your nails are exposed to the chemicals for a much shorter period of time. Yes, acetone is very drying, but that's why it's important to take steps to counteract that dryness with the sealant stick and/or slathering your fingers with cuticle oil.
When removing your nail polish, it's important to do so with one clean swoop of a cotton ball or cotton pad. As you'll see in the video below, if you press down firmly with the remover-soaked pad and hold for 10-20 seconds and then proceed to 'push' the polish off from the cuticle to the tip of your nail it will almost completely come off in one clean swipe. My Bliss Kiss has a helpful article that discusses this further, in the context of preventing nail staining. This polish removal method mentioned was actually first popularized by Deborah Lippmann.
To remove my cuticles (which is the thin layer of tissue riding on the nail plate, NOT the actual skin that's part of your finger - see here), I use Sally Hansen's Instant Cuticle Remover and a cuticle pusher that you can pick up at your local drug/beauty store. This remover product may not be the best out there (I haven't tried many others), but it's cheap and cheerful and I find it works well. I simply apply a couple drops of the gel-based remover on my cuticles after I've removed my polish, let sit for about 15 seconds, and then gently push back with the flat end of the cuticle pusher. I only do this about once a week. Never cut or scrape off the skin surrounding your nail with cuticle nippers unless you want to take live skin with it and cause open wounds and sores.
To file my nails I've generally used a high grit file, but recently got a new red glass file from My Bliss Kiss and am loving it. Glass or crystal files leave less rough edges and seal the filed end with little to no fraying. It is important to file only in one direction to prevent nail splitting, from corner to center. Read more about nail files and which one is right for you here.
I never buff my nails unless I have the odd peeling nail (though this rarely occurs since I began to consistently use Bliss Kiss nail oil). Buffing your nails, whether to remove ridges or to remove a layer of staining, is essentially shaving off layers of nail and can be detrimental to your overall nail strength.
|Red Bliss Kiss glass nail file - find it here!|
VIDEO TUTORIAL: MY NAIL CARE REGIMEN
(see also 15sec version on Instagram)
A note about nail strengtheners: You will notice that I haven't included any in here. That's because I no longer use them. I did at one time use OPI's Nail Envy strengthening base coat for about a three week period, but I stopped using it once my nails had reached an acceptable level of strength/durability. I do NOT recommend wearing a nail strengthener as a base coat for every mani in perpetuity, in fact this will likely cause your nails to break from being so hard. I know this from experience. Choosing a nail strengthener and knowing when your nails actually need it and for how long should be based on your individual nail state situation. Check out this article which offers a very educated and informed discussion about whether a nail strengthener is right for you.
Cuticle oil isn't just for improved nail health!
I also use it to soften nail art brush bristles for smooth paint lines, and to soften my cuticles post-polishing to allow me to pick out bits of nail polish that got stuck after doing a messy mani like a gradient!