Taking care of your own nails is easier than you think. This guide will help you buy the right tools and products for a salon perfect manicure.
"The nonliving epidermis that surrounds the edges of fingernail or toenail"
1. REMOVE CUTICLES
The cuticle, not to be confused with the "eponychium" is the very thin layer of dead tissue that moves up the nail plate as the nail grows to form a seal/barrier of protection between the eponychium and the nail plate. This barrier acts to keep pathogens from infecting the matrix area where new nail plate cells are keratinised to form the nail.
For that perfect salon look, and a smooth base to paint your nails, you must gently remove the cuticle using a cuticle tool/pusher. Don't ever cut your cuticles or attempt to use nippers as cutting the proximal nail fold of the eponychium will lead to infection.
You will need
I love CND Cuticle Away. I use a Q-tip to apply. This stuff is truly amazing as it dissolves cuticles in seconds making it quick and easy to remove the dead skin attached to the nail leaving them clean and smooth!
Apply to the whole cuticle area of all 5 nails and by the time you've applied it to your thumbnail, you can get to work on your little finger.
Hold the cuticle tool or orange stick at a flat angle, in line with your finger to avoid damaging the nail plate. Gently push from the middle of your nail bed all the way down to the eponychium.
Repeat this across the nail bed getting right into the sides. The dead tissue/cuticle will come off easily when using a cuticle remover.
Flip the tool and use gentle scraping motions to remove all the dissolved cuticle from the nail with the sharp end. Repeat on the other hand.
2. FILE + SHAPE
When filing natural nails use a 100/180 fine grit nail file. File in one direction only, from side to tip, as opposed to sawing back and forth. Hold the file at a right angle on the nails edges to avoid thinning by filing at an angle. Don't file too far into the side of the free edge as this can weaken the stress points causing breakage.
3. BUFF + SMOOTH
This step removes any leftover dead skin/cuticles and smooths ridges on the nails for a clean, even base to paint. Buffing blocks are also a great way to remove discolouration from the nail plate without damaging the surface. Buff the entire surface of each nail lighlty.
4. BUFF + SHINE
After you smooth the ridges it's time to buff and shine for a salon perfect finish. Start by buffing nails with the matt side to smooth, then turn it over to the super shiner side. Get yourself a good buffer like this Super Shiner from The Edge. If you are painting your nails this step gives an amazingly smooth base. For natural nails, it gives a nice, healthy gloss.
5. SCRUB + BRUSH
Now it's time to give your nails a good scrub. This stage is optional, soap and water and a nail brush will work just fine too. I like to use a sugar scrub because it gets rid of any dead skin that's left on my nails and fingers. Plus it leaves my hands silky soft! Click here for your free DIY sugar scrub ebook.
6. CUTICLE OIL + MASSAGE
Applying oil to your hands and nails on a daily basis is vital for strong, healthy nail growth. Keeping your nails and cuticles moisturised in-between manicures means less work next time. Stimulating the matrix just beneath the cuticle area creates blood flow to the cells encouraging nail growth. Use a cuticle oil that is free from synthetic polymers and drying alcohols. I recommend Simon + Tom's Oil Saviour. Alternatively, it's cheap and easy to make your own organic cuticle oil (recipe here) to guarantee there are no nasty ingredients!
7. NAIL HARDENER/STRENGTHENER
Finally, if you want to avoid breaking your nails I highly recommend using a non-toxic nail hardener or strengthener. And layer up, I coat this stuff on every day. I apply every morning and night to create a thick protective barrier that keeps my nails safe and prevents breaks.
If you keep breaking your nails or you have difficulty growing them at all check out these 5 tips to grow long, strong and healthy nails.