March 21, 2011

Taking Care of Hands & Nails: My Way

I get a lot of questions about my hand and nail care and what products I use. Well, here is my routine. I'm not saying the products I use and the things I do are best for everyone, but they work for me!

Oh, and just to be clear: I'm not getting paid by companies or brands for saying nice things about their products. My hands and nails just love these products and that's why I use them. :-)

I like to file my nails when I have nail polish on; not when they're freshly painted of course, just before removing the old polish. For me this is the easiest way to shape them evenly, if they're 'naked' I would follow the sometimes uneven nail bed and white tip of the nail and end up with different shapes and lengths: not so nice! This works best with opaque dark polishes, so if you're wearing one of those don't forget to do some filing before you take it off.
For shaping my nails I use a glass nail file from Herôme. A glass file is very fine and causes, in my experience, less tears and chips. I file in one direction and if needed smoothen some sharp edges. If I'm impatient (which isn't a good thing when you're filing, take your time!) and want to take down the length of my nails quickly I use the rougher grit parts of a 4-way file from Essence. I rarely buff the surface of my nails as buffing your nails makes them thinner thus weaker, but you can also use a multi-way file like this one for that. For buffing the nail surface you have to remove the polish first, but I guess you figured that out yourself already, hee-hee.

Remove! (the polish
I always use a cheap and simple nail polish remover with acetone from Kruidvat (a Dutch drugstore) which removes my nail polish fast and easily. When using a nail polish remover with acetone make sure to wash your hands immediately after use to remove all the acetone from your hands. If you have very dry skin and nails I recommend using an acetone free remover.

Remove! (the cuticle
After removing the nail polish I remove my cuticles with a cuticle remover from Nfu Oh. I don't prefer cutting my cuticles, because it can cause thickening of the skin and cuticle area (eventually). Cuticles prefer gentle care! I apply a bit of cuticle remover on the cuticles. After a minute or two I grab a wooden stick and remove all the stuff that comes off. Then I wash my hands thoroughly. Using a cuticle remover is something I do only once a month. Don't do this step too often, because the chemicals in most cuticle removers will irritate your skin a bit. These chemicals do a great job in removing the cuticle, but I just don't recommend soaking your cuticles in it every day (which isn't necessary anyway). I have to admit that I'm blessed with the easiest cuticles, they're small and well-behaved. ^^

This is in my opinion the most important part. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Pamper your hands, cuticles and nails as much as you can. For moisturizing my nails I use the Nail Balsam from Trind and for my cuticles the Cuticle Balsam, also from Trind. What I like about these products is that they don't leave an oily or greasy residue on my hands and nails. You can even polish your nails right after rubbing these products in!
And there we have the miracle maker from Lush, Lemony Flutter. What an amazing product! I apply a bit on the cuticle area (and other dry spots), let it sit for a while and then gently massage my cuticles and push them back with a cuticle pusher. The only downside from LF is that it leaves your skin oily, so I recommend using it at night before going to sleep or while watching a movie or something. :D
When it comes to hand cream I'm always on a hunt for something better. I have different hand creams lying around the house at the moment. Right now I'm loving Hydro Balance with aloe vera (Kneipp), Pure Coconut Hand & Nail Cream (Inecto) and Hand Repair from Trind. I always use hand cream after washing my hands. Keep a tube next to the sink so you won't forget using it! And of course you can use hand cream whenever you want.

My all time favourite nail hardener is Nail Repair (from Trind), a formaldehyde based hardener. It's the best I've ever used, it makes my nails strong, but not too strong (they're still somewhat flexible). I apply it right after rubbing in the Nail Balsam. It's also my basecoat so I can start polishing right away!
An important part in strengthening your nails lies in a varied diet. As you all know a varied diet is needed for a healthy body and a healthy body means healthy nails! I always try to eat as healthy as possible and drink enough water. I'm not a nutritionist, but thankfully we have the www where we can find a lot of information about nutrients that are good for nails (here and here). You can also choose to take extra vitamins. I used a special vitamin complex which contained vitamin B and biotin among other things for skin, hair and nails (from Kruidvat) for a couple of months. I started using it to improve my skin, but sadly it got worse ánd I didn't notice any changes in hair and nails, so I stopped taking these pills. I guess a balanced diet should do the job for me. :)

I always use cleaning gloves when I'm cleaning, doing the dishes, etc. Water and cleaning products can make your skin really dry. The cleaning gloves will also prevent your nails from scratching against rough surfaces (e.g. the food grater *shivers*). And I also use gloves (I prefer normal ones now, lol) when it's cold outside. If there are ways to prevent your skin and nails from drying out, well.. use them!

And another thing: Don't use your nails as tools. Seriously, don't. I rarely break a nail, but if I do it's because I'm too lazy to get a knife or another tool. That's just stupid, right? 

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or tips, let me know!