Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 1: The Struggle is Real

Hello, beauties! 

Today, I'm going to talk about nail care. Now, I've been known to always have my nails looking great, and, of course, I'm no professional, so I'm still learning how to do things like shape them and such. However, since becoming a nanny, I must admit that I've not been keeping up with my regimen as much as I'd like to. You change a lot of diapers in a day, you wash your hands A LOT, and I've just been neglecting moisturizing and cuticle care. Life happens. 

So now, I'm going to work on getting my hands and nails looking like their beautiful selves again. I know it frustrates a lot of bloggers when their nails aren't looking so hot, and sometimes makes them not want to show off their nails, but I'm here to show you that even if your nails aren't picture perfect, who cares? You can get them looking great with just a few simple steps. 

First, let me point out to you that I have spent pretty much all my life having weak, slow-growing nails that I could never keep long for more than a couple weeks before inevitable breakage. I used so many different strengtheners from Sally Hansen, so many little multi-step processes, and at one time, I even drank a powdered gelatin drink to see if that would help, and nothing really did it for me. I would get some growth, but I could never maintain my nails long before they started chipping and breaking. I would get discouraged a lot the time, and just stop trying to grow them. Instead, I would do my own acrylics, or buy press ons, which are terrible for your nail beds.

However, since that fateful day when I was high as a kite on painkillers watching Captain America: The First Avenger  for the third time in 24 hours because I was still in pain from surgery, and couldn't join in the Fourth of July fun, I have never had that problem again. Aside from the very rare breakage, I've been able to maintain my nails for over two years now.

Here are my nails. They look terrible. My cuticles have not been pushed back. I have hangnails. I did a lazy mani just so I wouldn't have naked nails, but didn't do any clean up, and as you can see, I have a little sis who decided to break (which is the most breakage I've had in two years). Most breaks are small, and easily filed out so there's not too much contrast with the other nails. Actually, when this nail broke, I cut the others down just a little, because they were all much longer, and it not only looked wonky, but felt weird having such differing nail lengths. Now, I'm just waiting for little sis to catch up with the others, and it's the perfect time to start over with my nail care regimen, and show you the growth process. 

Also, right after I painted these, my dogs tripped me while I was carrying my new nail polish haul, and one bottle broke open, which I managed to save (YAY!), but unfortch, I got a few flecks of orange on my newly painted nails (BOOOO!).

Now, if you are a nail biter or nail chewer with weak nails who has a hard time growing nice, long, natural nails, listen up. I was one of you, and yes, my nails look like struggle now, but follow my lead, and you'll get there!

The first thing I tell people who have a hard time growing nails is to go out to the beauty supply store near you, and find a good strengthener, and then get yourself some type of moisturizer. Waiting for your long nails to come in until you start playing around with color? Don't. Often, I hear people tell me that they're just going to use the strengtheners as a clear coat, and wait it out until they have "nice nails" to start having fun. That's boring! Also, when you have a clear polish on, you don't worry so much if you chew on it, or chip it. No one notices. If you start using color right away, you stop putting your fingers in your mouth so as not to mess up the work you put into your nails. Your nails may be weak now, and you're going to have some cracks and splits, but don't be discouraged. These are your old weak nails growing out like that bad perm you got in high school. Your nails will typically take a couple of months before they're nice and strong, but in the meantime, have fun trying out new colors and designs, and practicing painting them without making a mess. I am by no means an expert yet, but I'm a lot better than I used to be. 

Okay! Let's do our nails!

First things first, I'm going to get rid of my old polish. I happen to use the one cotton ball method which is quick and easy, and doesn't leave a big mess of my fingertips. Now, if you're wearing glitter, you are going to need more than one cotton ball and apply a little more scrubbing efforts with this method, but otherwise, it's great.

You can use any kind of remover you like, but I happen to buy Beauty Secrets since it comes in a huge bottle from Sally Beauty Supply since I am a B.O.B. (B*#@! On a Budget). Normally, I fill up my old smaller bottle to put in my nail care caddy, but i wanted to show you the original bottle. Sally also offers a non-acetone version as well as pure acetone which I do not recommend for your everyday removal, but do recommend to keep your nail art brushes clean. Pure acetone is fabulous for removing stubborn glitter, but I really truly don't recommend it because it dries out your nails so much. It is very powerful stuff. And with great power comes great use caution.

The next thing I like to do is to exfoliate my hands. You don't have to do this every day, but do it a couple times a week. Just get rid of some of that dead skin so you can have nice, soft hands. I like to use Ocean Salt from Lush, which was a bit of a splurge for me, but I only use it on my hands sparingly, and sometimes on my face if I'm having a little dry skin to take care of. You can use any type of exfoliant that you find. I just happen to really enjoy this one in particular. 

Once you've cleaned your hands, and exfoliated, it's time to push your cuticles back, and do any shaping you may need to do. Now, I am still learning how to shape correctly, but basically just make sure there are no rough edges or unevenness. Do not cut your cuticles, just push them back so you'll have a nice clean workspace for your polish.

After you've done this, you're ready for your strengthener base coat. When I first started trying to grow my nails, I was told by a lady at the beauty supply store to try the Nail Tek system, which worked well for me when I started out. I got Step One, which preps your nails by acting as a little primer, and then the Foundation II Strengthener (not pictured). As I had very weak nails, I didn't think it wise to buff out the ridges since buffing makes your nails weaker, so instead, I used Nail Tek's Foundation II Ridge Filler to help smooth out my nails. Eventually, My nails grew to where I wanted them to be, but I found that the Foundation II Strengthener was giving me chippies after a certain amount of use, so I went back to the store, and the lady directed me to Nail Magic which is what I've been using ever since, and I really love it. I still use Step One and Nail Magic, but I don't really have problems with ridges anymore, so I don't need the ridge filler, but these are great products that have worked for me. At some point, I will make a post about some other base coats I've also used.

L-R: NailTek Step One, Nail Magic, NailTek Foundation II Ridge Filler.

Cleaned and with base coat. It's only Day 1, so they're not great, but they're gonna get back to their former glory soon.

After you're prepped your nails, here's the fun bit: color! Today, I chose a nice summer shade from the OPI Spring 2015 Hawaii collection. This one is called Go with the Lava Flow, and it's a pinkish/coral shade with pink/orange shimmer depending on the angle. My camera had a hard time picking up an accurate capture of the color, but it's my favorite of that collection. It had a very easy to work with formula, and I used two coats here, and added a quick dry top coat. 

Yes, I am showing you my hot mess hand with the broken nail. Little sis will be back soon though.

I tried to give you a little bit of the shimmer, but my lighting was not the best today. It's been very rainy and cloudy.

Ooooh prety...Funnily enough, this was a more accurate capture of the nail color so check it!

Okay, so now that our nails are painted, it's time to moisturize!

Shoutout to the Whovians!

You will definitely want to have a nice cuticle product to keep them soft and supple. There are lots of different ones out there, but I am a big fan of Lush's Lemony Flutter. This is another little splurge for me, but it's one that's worth it, since this stuff lasts a very long time. You only need a little dab on each cuticle and you're good to go! It also smells amazing. It's a fresh, lemony, unisex scent.

Though you can, and some do use this as their hand moisturizer, as a B.O.B., I keep it to my cuticles and sometimes my heels when it's winter, and I start getting dry, cracked feet. For my overall hand moisturizer, I like creams and lotions like OPI's  Avo Juice Skin Quenchers or Bath & Body Works Ultra Shea Body Cream. The Avo Juice is a light lotion that is not greasy at all, and easily absorbs into your skin. It comes in various scents. My favorite is Jasmine, but right now, I'm rocking Hibiscus Blossom because it reminds me of a spa scent. Avo Juice is great to keep on your desk for after you wash your hands. If you wash your hands A LOT like me, sometimes, you want something a little more intensive, so that's why I love the Ultra Shea Body Cream. Tahiti Island Dream is one of the new summer scents this year, and it's really a nice scent for the season. Of course, Bath & Body Works offers a variety of different scents (of which, I have many...too many). I like to change mine out according to season. So when fall comes, I'll be rocking the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin scent, which is my fave. A little bit also goes a long way with this one. Just a pea-sized dab, and you're all set. Of course, you can use any moisturizer you like, but do make sure you moisturize your hands as much as possible. It'll keep your cuticles healthy, and your hands looking great!

And that's it! Just keep moisturizing your hands, and repeat these steps whenever it's time for a fresh manicure. Be patient. Your nails will take some time to grow, but once you keep working on them, a break won't be as traumatic for you, because they grow quicker and stronger, and eventually, you are going to suffer less breakage if you take care of them. So go ahead and treat yourself to a new color, and have some fun while you wait. 

The finished product.

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