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.