First, let's talk Removal. I don't have much patience, and considering the sheer amount of polish changes I do on myself a week (roughly 4), I need a remover that is QUICK. Enter 100% acetone nail polish remover. The kicker with this is that, yes, it does the job well, but it's extremely harsh and drying to the skin around your nails. I combat that aspect by layering a thick amount of cuticle cream on my cuticles before starting the removal process (I've been really into this Burt's Bees lemon one for awhile now!). I typically use one single cotton round, ripped off into several, acetone soaked pieces to remove the polish from both hands. I let the cotton sit on my nail for a few seconds and the swipe everything right off:
Other Must Haves for me are the following:
A-Cuticle remover. Let this sit on your cuticles for a few minutes and then using an orange wood stick (D.), gently push back your cuticles.
B-A Gentle Brush. I use this children's toothbrush (came in a 4 pack from the dollar store) instead of an actual "nail brush" because it's super cheap. Also, it has a smiley face on it!
C. A Fine Grit Nail File. The finer, the better for natural nails. I also have a glass file that I enjoy using too!
D. Orange wood stick (see A, above!) You can also use this to clear fresh polish mistakes from the side of your nails.
E. A three way nail buffer. You should not use this every single day, but once every other week or so will help to clear off any uneven spots from your nail beds, giving you a nice smooth surface to polish.
F. Cuticle Nippers. LISTEN! DO NOT use these unless you have a hang nail type situation going on. NEVER, EVER nip at healthy cuticle skin. You end up getting a much better result if you continually push back your cuticles and use remover instead of physically cutting them off. With that said, in the right circumstance, these can be a life saver. The angled tip get hang nails off in a jiffy, without pulling more skin.
Next-Moisturize! It's so important! Here are my current favs:
Barielle Nail cream- this stuff is amazing. I put it on before bed and wake up still completely moisturized. It smells great and has a wonderful, dense texture without being greasy!
Cuticle Oil- this is a must. This Island Girl one smells delightful and has little flowers floating in it!
Hand Cream- duh. I love doing my cuticle oil first, then massaging everything together with hand cream. This Julep Rock Star one is light, yet effective and smells clean and fresh.
Cuticle Oil To Go- you need to be able to oil up at a moment's notice, so carry an oil pen (this one is from Nicole by OPI) in your bag.
Treatments, Base Coats, Top Coats:
Formula X Nail Cleanser- Use this right before you are about to polish to be sure all oils are cleansed from your nail bed. A dry nail = better polish staying power.
Nicole by OPI 3 in 1- although you can use this as a nail strengthener and top coat, I typically use this product as my base coat and LOVE it!
Barielle Nail Rebuilding Protein- I use this to keep my nails from getting weak. On days when I don't feel like wearing a color, I definitely have this on. I sometimes use it as a base coat as well!
Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat- I always try to find others that work as well as this, and I just can't. Super fast drying and SUPER shiny. I swear by it!
And, if you're into Seche Vite as well, you should track down the professional refill size...totally worth it:
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Lakeisha at Refined and Polished
Maribeth at Obsessive Cosmetic Hoarders Unite
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