Before we get to the pix, I was asked by some readers to share my nail care routine. A bit of background first though, just to put it all into perspective. I am a chemistry teacher and therefore suffer the double whammy of chemicals and chalk on a daily basis. This can leave my skin, cuticles and nails very dry (although thankfully, unlike many of my colleagues, I have not developed the dreaded chalk "allergy" that causes cracked, painful skin).
File. I like to file my nails (when needed) before I remove my old nail polish. I find I can get them more even and consistently shaped this way. Right now, I'm using plain old cheapo nail files, but I'm thinking of switching over to a crystal file as soon as the old ones are used up. During the school year, I tend to keep my nails fairly short - they usually don't extend much more than one or two mm beyond the tips of my fingers. Sometimes, I will let them grow out longer, but as soon as a break occurs, they all get filed back down. As for the shape, I like them to be square with rounded edges (I hear this is referred to as squoval). I just find my nails are stronger and less prone to breaks and chips with this shape, rather than the oval shape I preferred as a teenager.
Polish Remover. I use any inexpensive acetone remover (I like Sally Hansen Moisturizing Formula). Many people will find acetone too drying for their nails, however I find I have to work too hard and too long with the acetone-free removers. This is especially true with the polishes that I love the best - the ones chock full of chunky glitter. It can take me upwards of twenty minutes to remove these polishes. Therefore, the acetone-free remover is in contact with my nails for a longer period of time, leaving them more dry and flaky than with the acetone remover (which seems to do the same job in one quarter of the time). I do, however, try to purchase the acetone removers that have conditioning agents added, to lessen the drying effect. Lastly, I have switched from using cotton balls over to cosmetic pads - they are sturdier and they don't leave lint on the nails.
Cuticle remover. I use Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. I only use this treatment at most once a week as it can be harsh on my skin. I prefer to only remove obviously dry, dead skin and hangnails. I never clip my cuticles as it only seems to make them ragged looking. After the treatment, I wash my hands thoroughly, with soap and water, to remove any product residue. It is important to remove all treatments and oils from nails before the base coat is applied.
Base coat (BC). I really like Sally Hansen Nail Quencher Hydrating Base Coat. A heads up to the Canadian ladies, if you like this BC, stock up now, as far as I know it is being discontinued in Canada - I just stashed away four bottles myself. I also sometimes use Seche Clear. I think a BC is very important for several reasons - it preps the nail to accept polish, it evens out the surface of the nail and it prevents yellowing when using highly pigmented polishes. I try to never skip the BC. I always allow my BC to completely dry before applying polish (usually two minutes is enough).
Polish. I apply anywhere from one to four coats of polish (usually two coats does the trick), depending on the opacity of the polish being used. I don't like the look of sheer polishes that clearly show off the whites of my nails. So, when working with a sheer (or semi-sheer) polish, I will either add more coats to the nail to build up the colour or layer the polish over another non-sheer one. I prefer fast drying polishes, but I'm not tied to them. I tend to wait until each layer of polish is dry to the (light) touch before proceeding with the next coat.
Top coat (TC). I will only use a fast drying TC, like Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat, as I do not have time to sit around and baby my nails. With a fast drying TC, the polish will be dry to the touch within a minute or two. However, I don't do any intensive hand work for about an hour (however, I can easily type without any worries of smudging). I also use Seche Vite, which is also quite good. However, it is twice the price of the SH TC. So, in my opinion, the SH TC is a much better buy. Both products provide a very shiny finish to the polish, which I usually prefer. As well, a TC is invaluable to smooth out chunky glitter polishes, as they can make the nail surface feel quite rough, due to the glitter sticking out.
Cuticle oil/balm. After my polish and TC are dry, I moisturize, either with cuticle oil or balm. I like Haken Cuticle Oil. It comes in a variety of pleasant scents; I use the mango version. I also use California Mango Mend, a cuticle, nail and skin balm which smells pleasant. I have also heard good things about Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter (although I'm a bit concerned that it may smell like Pledge). I try to remember to apply the oil/balm before I go the bed each night. Often, if I'm sitting in front of the TV or computer, I will apply the oil/balm then and rub it in.
Hand Cream. I am not very particular about hand cream. I usually just use Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream, mainly because that is what I have around. My only stipulation for choosing a hand cream is that it doesn't have an intense odour (odour-free is preferable), since some perfumes make my allergies go crazy. I try to apply hand cream every chance I get - at home and at school - although I don't apply as often as I would like, because I hate getting moisturizer in my rings. Last, but not least, each morning when I apply sunscreen to my face, I give my hands a dollop too. We all know that sun damage can prematurely age our faces, but don't forget that it can have the same effect on our hands.
Now, on to the pretties:
China Glaze -Turned Up Turquoise
- purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $3.99 CDN
This polish is from the China Glaze INK Collection, a grouping of intense neon colours, inspired by tattoo art. It appealed to me because of the unique colour - a bright teal leaning toward green with a subtle shimmer.
The two coats of this polish were a breeze to apply, however, like most neon polished it does dry fairly matte. As I prefer a shiny finish, I was sure to apply a top coat. I had no chips and very little tip wear over the two days that I was wearing this polish.
Orly - Country Club Khaki
- purchased at Sally Beauty Supply for $5.99 CDN
This is a brand new polish released for spring 2009 by Orly as a part of their Prepster collection.
It is a beautiful taupe creme, with subtle lavender undertones. It is an excellent colour for when you want a neutral with a bit of an interesting edge.
The formula of this polish is very good - easy two coat application and good wear. I really like the shape of the bottle and the feel of the brush - it is easy to hold onto and makes applying the polish easy.
In a New York Color Minute - Times Square
- purchased at Rexall (a CDN chain drug store) for $1.39 CDN
This next polish is for Maggie, as she mentioned in last week's comments that she would like to see a deep coral shade. This polish fits the bill - it is a dark, rich coral creme that just screams spring.
This is another brand new polish, released this spring by New York Color. All the polishes in this collection have names based on the city of New York, like Broadway, East Village, Fifth Avenue and so on. I absolutely adore this new line of polishes. Many of the colours are modern and fashion forward. The polish applies easily due to a good formula and a nice sized brush. It also covers nicely, dries very quickly and wears well. Add to that the extremely affordable price and we have a winner!