If you use nail strengtheners and moisturize them regularly, your nails should show improvement. But you may wish to go the whole nine yards and give your nails a manicure. This can be a very time consuming task and of course it is not necessary. Your nails will do just fine with a coat of strengthener, a regular moisture treatment, and a periodic filing to keep them in shape. But of course, manicuring does have advantages. It can add character to your nails by adding color. It can disguise flaws by covering them with color. It can also help shield and protect the nails by the addition of extra coats of polish. Before you begin, however, it is useful to know a bit about the products that you will be using.
The Components of a Manicure
One of the most important components of a manicure is the base coat. The purpose of the base coat is to help the polish coat adhere better. (Try Professional Prime Base Coat, by Cabot). If you have ridges or cracks on your nails, look for ridge filler. This is a base coat that contains ingredients such as talc, or mineral powder that will help smooth your nail surface under the polish coast. (try Ridge Filler, by Brucci).
Of course, the best part of giving yourself a manicure is picking out the nail polish. This is a general term for whatever provides color to the nails (also called nail lacquers or enamels). They can be anything from a sheer polish with a hint of color to dark and opaque. Of course, their main purpose is purely cosmetic, but the presence on the nail provides an additional layer of support. (try Color Quick, by Cutex),
The main purpose of the top coat is to help the polish coat last longer, by adding a thin barrier to prevent chips and smudges. They also will give the polish coat additional shine. This step is very important since you have taken the time to give yourself a manicure, why not make it last.(try Top Coat, by Cabot).
Of course, you know what this is for, but did you realize how damaging it is to the nails? It is your nails worst enemy! Polish removers, even those marketed as containing moisturizing ingredients, weaken your nails and sap their moisture, resulting in breakage. The only way around this problem is to never use polish remover unless at least 7 days have gone by! After using polish remover, soak the nails in warm water to which nail moisturizer has been added. This will ensure that all of the polish remover has been washed off and that the nails get immediate care so that they may be restored. If the polish is removed before the 7th day, enough time will not have gone by to allow the nails to build up enough moisture. If this moisture has not been restored, the nails will break and split.
This is an oil-based spray that does not actually speed up the drying time of nails, contrary to some claims, but does prevent smearing and nicking of the polish. It is great to use during humid weather, which can slow drying time t about an hour! (try Dry Kwik Nail Spray, by Sally Hansen).
The Proper Manicure
Now that you know more about the products one uses when manicuring nails, you should be able to decide if manicuring is for you. For easier maintenance, just apply a nail strengthener as directed and be sure to moisturize regularly. If you decide that manicuring is for you, be sure to give your nails a break as often as possible from polish removers, just nail strengthener and moisturizing.
What about my cuticle?
Even though your cuticles may not look attractive, by all means, do not cut them off! Your cuticles are barriers against infection and contamination of the nails. For this reason, you should absolutely never cut any of your cuticles and never let a manicurist do it either! If you have a small loose piece of skin (called a soft hangnail), it may be gently trimmed. Immediately following this, apply an antibacterial cream to the area, such as Bacitracin.
If your cuticles are so intruding on your nail that you wish to use a cuticle remover (try Mani Magic, by Pfizer), give the remover time to work. Contrary to mainstream instruction, it is not good to push the cuticles back with an orange stick or any other type of instrument. To do so can damage the nail. It is better to allow a cuticle remover time to work, (the product above can be left on overnight). After the time has elapsed the cuticle can be rubbed off gently with a finger, using a gentle, circular motion. This will decrease its visibility, without as much potential injury. Remember, the best idea of all is to not touch your cuticles and to leave them natural!
1. The first step in giving yourself a manicure is to use as little polish remover as possible to remove all polish. To get hard to reach places, like around the cuticles, wrap a piece of cotton around an orange stick and dip in the remover.
2. When nails dry, file them very gently into your desired shape. (New evidence shows that filing back and forth does not do damage to the nail, but this has not been proven. It is your choice.)
3. Soak the nails in warm water enriched with a few drops of nail moisturizer. This will rehydrate the nails of the moisture that was sapped due to the polish removal. It will prevent the nails from splitting, breaking, and peeling. I t will also help soften the cuticle.
4. Use a nail brush to gently cleanse around the cuticles and under the nails. Then dry the nails.
5. If necessary, apply the cuticle remover as instructed.
6. Allow nails to dry thoroughly, otherwise no coats of product will stick.
7. Apply the base coat. You may use a regular base coat, ridge filler, or a nail strengthener, depending on the health of your nails. With all kinds of polish, begin with the thumb and end with the pinkie. Before applying polish, wipe excess polish against inside of polish bottle. Begin application by tracing polish up from the center of the nail and then fill in sides, going up also. Wait 5 to 7 minutes for each coat to dry. For the base coat, one coat is sufficient.
8. Apply the nail polish coat. Use the method described above. Wait about 5 to 7 minutes to allow coat to dry. You may apply a second coat, if desired, being sure to allow it to dry afterwards for 5 to 7 minutes, as well.
9. Apply the top coat. Use the method desired in number 7, but run a bit of top coat under nail tips as well to help seal in color and prevent it from chipping at the top,
10. It will take at least 45 minutes to an hour for all four coats to dry thoroughly. To prevent smudging and help speed up the drying process, let nails dry naturally for at least 8 minutes. Then you can either spray on a polish-drying accelerator or dip nails in a bowl of ice water.
Be careful with nails for at least 2 to 3 hours following your manicure. They may still smudge or smear during this time. This manicure will last for about a week before it chips off or new growth appears at the base of the nail. You can touch up the nails, if necessary, by polishing lightly with the colored enamel (no need for another top coat).
Instant Manicure Dry Nail Enamel Strips by Avon
Great new invention from Avon. Instant manicure takes about 10 minutes and your ready for a night out on the town. The set includes 16 nail strips that can be used on your own nails or acrylic nails. Each strip is a base coat, two coats of nail enamel, and a top coat. They are applied dry so your nails are ready to go immediately. They are more chip-resistant than liquid nail polish and the color will last up to 14 days. Lots of colors to choose from like Ocean in a Flash, Let's Go Lavender, Oh My Pearl, and Twinkling Pink. They are easily removed with nail enamel remover and cost about $4.99. Available at Avon.com