Here's my nail care routine, during a whole week.
I'm not a professional and I don't know everything about hands and nails care, and some tips that work for me may not work for you. I've learned everything I know on websites and blogs, which are the best information spots for me. So, the first advice I'd give you is to read a lot, take notes, compare to find what you shouldn't do (the web also provides bad advices) and try until you find what's the best for you. But I think it's interesting to share what I've learned, and maybe this will help you. First of all, you need to know that I paint my nails about 2 or 3 times a week, but the main cares are made on sunday, when I have time for me, when my boyfirend and I are watching a movie, ... Some treatments may not be done too often, I'll precise it when necessary. 1. Remove old polish and residues. I use a non acetone remover, and when needed I use the "foil method" explained here (mostly to remove glitter or dark polish)
2. File, if needed. I don't wash my hands between polish removal and filing, I should but wet nails become flat and are hard to file, and I generally don't have enough time to wait for them to dry.
3. Wash hands and brush nails with an adapted brush. I use a regular soap to do this, most of the time it's the Lush soap that stands on my sink. Dry well.
4. Apply a cuticle moisturizer: - during the week, I don't have a lot of time, so I use a cuticle oil (Nfu Oh or Essence) and moisturize my cuticles when I use my hand cream. - on saturday or sunday, I use something more effective, like Lemony Flutter from Lush. I make a massage to my nails and cuticle with it and let it on the nails for a few minutes. It's very greasy and need a good wash with a nail brush and soap :) - twice a month, I push them gently with an orange stick. You can do this once a week if you have more cuticles, but never cut them.
5. Apply a base coat. Use what's the most adapted for your nails, but be careful with hardeners; if your nails are too hard, they will break much easier. I like to alternate hardening bases with other, like whitening or ridge filer (I have many spots in my nails and I need a ridge filler for creme polish)
6. Apply your polish, use as many coats as needed. I usually wait at least 20 minutes between two coats but it depends on the polish I use. When I wear mattes or neons, which dry very fast, I only wait 5 minutes. And when I use very thick and/or bad quality polish, I have to wait more.
7. Clean your nail contour and cuticles. Even if you don't put polish on your cuticles while painting, it's nice to have a well defined outline. Use a flat brush and follow this link to see how I learned to do this :) Lacquerized
8. If needed, add a top coat. This will help to make your manicure last longer, or add some shine, or any effect you can get with top coats (matte, glitter, crackle...) You're done ! But here are some other things to do ...
- Keep a hand moisturizer at home, at work, in your bag ... and use it at least 2-3 times a day. Choosing a lotion that penetrates quickly is easier as you can continue your activity right after moisturizing your hands. My faves are Essie Smoothies and MD Skin Lotion. I also use Lush Helping Hands but it's more greasy. When you apply your cream or lotion, don't forget to let a small amount on your nail base and cuticles and massage them gently.
- Once a month, use a special file to buff the surface of your nails. This will remove irregularities and make your natural nail smooth, shiny and clean. It's better not to do this more than once a month because it can damage your nails.
- If your nails tend to become yellow or stain, you can soak them in a half lemon or in a bowl of warm water with one or two dental tablets. I prefer not to do this more than once a month, I think too much soaking is not the best thing for nails.
Well, if you have any question, feel free to ask me in the comment section :)