Nailing it



After my regular blow-dries, my monthly manicure would be the last thing I’d give up. I refer here not to a ‘file & polish’ which is how some define a manicure, but to the full works including cuticle care, soaking and oiling of nails. My mainicurist (I’ve been going to her for 13 years) also provides an excellent and relaxing hand massage.

The picture above shows my nails 7 days after painting. People  express surprise when I say that I expect my nail polish to last 10 days (even though I am hopeless at remembering to wear rubber gloves for household tasks).

Some complain that nail polish ‘doesn’t stay on’ or chips badly in no time. I have to say here – it’s not the nail polish; it’s the way it’s applied. On one of the blogs I read the author was saying that she was disappointed in a particular nail polish because it needed two coats. ALL nail polish needs two coats (even that which claims to be single-coat) if you want it to last. And that’s not all. After preparing nails (buffed to remove any flakes), first on should be a good ridge-filling base coat. This is what will stop your nails discolouring and will give a smooth base on which to apply colour. Leave this to dry and then paint two coats of polish (I leave around 10-15 minutes in between). Leave for another 15 minutes and then apply a good quality top coat. And make sure to take it over the top of the nail where they are most likely to chip. Then do nothing much for the rest of the evening (it will be touch dry quite quickly but will not completely harden for several hours). Best thing is to have an early evening bath/shower and apply polish before settling down to watch something on TV.  Invest the time at this stage and you’ll only need to paint your nails three times a month.

I am very choosy about which brands of polish I wear and, at the very least choose a “3-free polish”  which contain no formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate. Better still go for a 5 free, 7 free or even 9 free brand. I’m not going to go into all the different chemicals and reasons for avoiding them but there’s a wealth of info on Google if you’re interested. I tend to use use OPI (3-free), Benecos and BioSculpture (5 free). The higher-free brands tend not to be mainstream and can be hard to find other than online. The problem with this is, as I have found to my cost, that the colours are difficult to determine.

I used to have my nails gelled and occasionally still do if going on a longer holiday. ‘But it ruins your nails,’ say some.  Indeed it does if you are not prepared to pay to get it taken off properly (picking or chipping it off WILL certainly ruin your nails as will using cheap gel). Only use a premium quality soak-off gel that is guaranteed not to damage the natural nail.  I have only ever had Bio Sculpture gel and yes, it’s more expensive. I had gels for a while whilst strengthening my own brittle nails. It worked wonders and I now have strong, good nails but I haven’t had them regularly gelled for eight years. Bio Sculpture gels are is known industry-wide for how gentle they are and they contain no known allergens.

I love a pedicure too and treat myself at the start of every summer. During the winter months I take the opportunity to get my feet ‘summer-ready’. This involves doing my own pedicure (nowhere near as luxurious or relaxing as having someone else do it)  using a Scholl Express Pedi. These have really come down in price since I had mine a few years ago. This one can now be bought on Amazon for £13.99 and whilst Boots sell a pack of replacement rollers for £12.99, Home Bargains offer the same for just £4.99. I leave the nail polish off during the winter months,  and then every other night before bathing (better before as afterwards the skin is really soft and can get damaged), I use the Express Pedi for just a couple of minutes. Every night I apply   The Blue Lemon‘s foot balm. Favourite is the divine-smelling lavender and geranium. On alternate nights I massage my toenails with bio-oil to stop them drying out. The entire process of looking after my feet takes up less than 20 minutes a week.




  1. You take good care of your hands and it shows! My nails suffered from the chemotherapy. They became badly discolored, but that eventually grew out. But, they’ve become very ridged and, I’m afraid, I haven’t been taking good care of them! Need to pay more attention to my hands!


    • I’ve been told before that chemotherapy can affect nails badly and leave them ridged. I suppose the body puts all it’s energies into essential repair and that’s why hair and nails suffer. Treat yourself to a nice nail oil and massage it in regularly and then use a ridge filling base coat.


  2. Wow,your hands and nails are amazing! I have never had a professional manicure,what is the average price of these?and could you tell me please who stocks the foot balm you use please.kind regards,Margaret


    • Hi Margaret, thank you for your kind comments. My manicure (just over an hour including massage) costs £16. If you check out Margaret Powling’s blog (I think you follow it), she has just tried a professional manicure and has raved about it too! Go to someone reputable such as a Bio Sculpture technician. Unfortunately anyone can set themselves up as a nail technician so it’s important to choose carefully. I have been using the foot balm for years and buy it online from It is made and sold by a couple who used to work out of a nearby craft centre but then moved to Shrewsbury. I don’t think they sell via any third party.


  3. You have beautiful hands and I salute your knowledge of nails and nail varnish. I do go to a reputable salon and love a good manicure. I have very fragile, crumbly nails and actually I find gel protects them and helps them grow. I’m just giving them a break from gel and what’s happening? They’re breaking and worse, splitting. Yikes!


    • Thank you Penny. I agree absolutely because gel allowed my nails to get stronger. So long as it’s a good quality, properly applied and, most importantly, properly removed, it can be beneficial to the nails’ condition.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pedicures scare me. I don’t like people touching my feet. I have a serious fear of infection from improperly cleansed tools.


    • I have a friend who can’t stand anyone touching her feet too. I can identify with this as I hate the back of my neck being touched. Aren’t we a strange little? I think you would be safe from infection in a reputable salon.


  5. You have beautiful hands and nails, Eloise. I think I must start having manicures again. I had them years ago but they weren’t very successful, done in my hairdresser at the time and the young girl just put on one coat of polish and it was very streaky. I need to find someone who will do the cuticles, and fill ridges – my nails are very ridged now, a combination of age and chemotherapy over a decade ago – they’ve never been nice since then. But if a manicurist could make my nails look that yours in time, then it would be money well spent.
    Yes, your post was very informative on the various types of polish. I didn’t know some polishes could seriously damage your nails. My nails are very brittle and break easily, too. Having them professionally manicured might help prevent this. They also split vertically along the ridges, so obviously I’m not giving them the correct attention.
    I will make an appointment soon to have a proper manicure and maybe a pedicure, too. I have a Scholl pedi like the one you have shown (only mine is pink) but I didn’t know you could get replacements for the roller! I use one of these about once a week and then use a specially recommended foot balm (recommended by my podiatrist.)
    Margaret P


    • Thank you for your kind comment. If you can find a salon (or someone private) who is bio sculpture accredited, you can be sure that they are professional, though some of them may do only gels and not manicures. A nail oil can help if massaged in regularly. It sounds as though your nails might be a bit dry if they split vertically. Treat yourself! I also take Perfectil , hair, skin and nail supplements.


        • It appears that vertical ridges are (yet another unwelcome) sign of the ageing process. Is there no end to it? Also, like our hair and skin, the nails dry out as the years go by. A nail oil, massaged in regularly, will help. Thank you for your kind comments, Ratnamurti. My 2.5 year old grandson was very interested when I was teaching him to recognise wrists, palms and veins on hands. He was very put out, however, that he hasn’t got visible veins!


      • I once thought of taking Perfectil hair, skin and nail tablets. They were in Tesco’s and I was about to place them in my trolley when I spied Tesco’s own brand. I checked the make up and strength of both makes and they were identical. Tesco’s were half the price of Perfectil, guess which ones I bought! I agree with other comments, your nails are beautiful. As you get older it is nice to be able to look down at your hands and be proud of them.


        • Thank you for your kind comment Eleanor. And thank you also for the recommendation. I will certainly seeking out the Tesco version of Perfectil.


  6. Eloise, I think your nails look amazing. I have serious nail envy! I would rather eat beans on toast every day than give up going to the hairdressers but my nails don’t get the same amount of attention. My sister often says that she can’t understand why I take so much care with the rest of me but appear to ignore my nails! This must change! I found your post very informative, especially concerning the different types of nail polish so, watch this space. However, I couldn’t help but smile at the previous comment from Jayne 😂


    • Each to her own, June but I couldn’t think of a response to Jane! I guess we all have our different likes/wants. Thank you for your kind comments. Find yourself a bio sculpture technician, she will almost certainly do non-gel manicures too, and you can be certain that she will be properly trained and knowledgeable. I cringe at friends who show me their gelled nails and proudly tell me that it cost only £10 and then moan that it’s ruined their nails. My husband usually buys me several months worth of manicures for birthday and Christmas.
      I am definitely with you on the beans on toast when it comes to my hair!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s