Monday, 1 March 2010

Easy Nails

Could I come near your beauty with my nails, I'd set my ten commandments in your face.

My nails are regularly commented on. They're long, and always painted in a bold colour. The nails on my right hand, infact, are actually quite a lot longer than the nails on my left hand. This is because of my ukulele, and now also violin playing (people very rarely notice this however - score!).

I bit my nails until I was 13, at which point I got braces and was unable to chew. Since then my nails have flourished, and I enjoy taking the time out to give myself a nice mani/pedi. Here's how I do it without getting a headache:
  • Clean your nails off. Use a good quality nail varnish remover and pure cotton pads (good ones, not ones that disintigrate when you look at them), and make sure all the colour is gone. If your nails are stained yellow from previous polish, give it a good week until you start again. It's often a good idea to leave a day or two between polish to let your nails 'breathe', but I very rarely do this myself.
  • File in one direction. No, I don't know why. A friend of mine with beautiful nails (and beautiful everything else...damn her!) told me this is in a science class 4 years ago. I've also noticed that on the rare occasion I get my nails done professionally, they only file in one direction too.
  • Set up a workstation. Lots of light, preferably over head rather than to one side. Lay down some kitchen towel incase of spillages. Keep nail polish remover and q-tips close at hand - it's much easier to correct whilst the polish is still wet, rather than when it has dried.
  • Use a clear bottom coat. I use the word quality again. This is important, and will help prevent staining and chipping. Apply liberally, but don't let the layer be too think. For a mani/pedi that lasts, you'll be using lots of layers, and if they're all really thick it'll never dry, and then just peel off after a couple of days. Let it dry properly, this shouldn't take very long.
  • Apply first layer of colour. Fill up to the edges with a very thin layer. This layer should be very faint, but cover up to the sides. This is what I call the 'careful' layer. Take your time, and get it right. Let it dry completely! This shouldn't take too long either.
  • Apply second layer of colour. This should be much thicker, and doesn't have to be as precise. Aim for the middle; it'll spread naturally, and seeing as you already have a thin layer around the edge it really won't notice if it's not perfect. LET IT DRY. This layer, being thicker, will probably take a fair amount of time to dry. Take your time. Watch some tv, listen to music and please, I beg you, do not try to attempt to use your hands. None of this 'I'll be careful' business. I always, bar none, regret trying to do something else whilst my nails are drying. Be patient. Daydream. Wait 20 minutes before even thinking about touching them.
  • Stroke your nails across the back of your hand. I've found this is the best way of checking if they're dry. If they're not dry, it doesn't do irreperable damage, compared to poking at them with your fingertips.
  • Apply a top coat. Be fairly generous with this. I find if I don't have enough on the brush it picks up the nail colour that I've already applied, and that's really annoying. Let this dry for a loooong time. I would recommend an hour before you start doing normal activites. Maybe this is a bit much, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Et voila! This works everytime for me.

What products? Quality is important. Your nail varnish will last a lot longer. My
preferred brand is Nails Inc. The quality is fantastic, the colours are awesome and the price is pretty reasonable.
My favourite 'high maintenance' colour is Victoria and Albert (right). High maintenance only because it really does require two coats. My favourite 'low maintenance' colour is St John's Wood (left). The picture doesn't do it much justice, but it's a violetty, bluey, matte colour that is so easy to apply it's unbelieveable. This really only requires one coat, it dries quickly and goes on like a dream. And it goes with practically everything.

I also like Barry M for their crazy colours, and it's really a bargain. It doesn't last as long as Nails Inc, but the colours are so much fun. I haven't got this one, but I'm really itching for Once Upon a Time (right).
For mental low prices, whilst still being an excellent brand of nail polish, I'd go for Collection 2000. This may be a British only brand, which is a shame. You can get two different sizes of bottles, the smaller ones being 'Hot Looks', of which Siren is my favourite (left). The larger bottles are 'MaxiFlex', of which Hello Sailor is my picture available... :(

Handy Tip! If your skills leave much to the imagination, try using a sparkly top coat. This is incredibly forgiving, and gives your nails a nice glittery finish!