Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tools of the trade, or my must-haves – Part 2 /very long post/

OK, last time I told you about my mani software, so to speak; now let’s move to the hardware.

First and foremost – I do not cut my cuticles, ever. I may clip off an occasional hangnail, but that’s it. I used to be addicted to cutting cuticles; and they used to look so much worse than they do now. Now I don’t even own a decent trimmer/scissors – no need for these.

The hardest tool I ever let around my cuticles is an orange wood stick. I use them to push the cuticles back, once a week usually, after applying my cuticle remover. Twice a day, after shower, I gently slide back wet cuticles with a towel. By the way, I just bought a huge pack of sticks – 144, to be precise – for $4.55 in a local beauty supply store. Check out yours for bargain prices; many of these places do not require license to let you shop!

Now to the files. Another big “G” (first one, of course, is Gloves) is Glass. Get yourself a glass file, ASAP. I promise it will decrease nail splitting and breakage dramatically. I hardly had a single breakage since I’ve started using glass files exclusively. (Yes, I’m on an exclusive basis with nail files, that’s true). Brand doesn’t really matter. I have one by Essie, one by Sally Hansen , one from h2t; and the last one by Swissco. The later is the cheapest and happens to be my favorite: it’s really good in filing off a length. Ji Baek, whom I admire, says in her book that glass is good for touch-ups, but not for removing length. With all my due respect, I have to disagree. Swissco, one-sided and thick, does a great job. From all the files I mentioned, Swissco is the thickest one and the one from h2t – the thinnest.

Speaking about one- and two-sided files. I thought that two-sided files are better, for one can file in both directions. I was wrong. First, you are not supposed to file in two directions (I’m nail-naughty and do it anyway). Second, somehow I manage to do it with a one-sided file.

Buffer. I don’t have one. Usually they are used to polish off ridges and stains – too bad, but my ridges are beyond help here. Besides, I discovered that even occasional buffing messes with a polish wear. You see, when the nail is too ykflrbq , it’s difficult for the polish to adhere properly, even with a help of a base coat.

Logically, we are ready to move to the base and top coats. You cannot overestimate a good base coat. It can help to solve your nails’ problems like breakage, stress, yellowness etc – to the certain extent, of course; it primes the nail surface and helps to prolong mani/pedi lifespan. As I mentioned before, I have visible ridges, so my natural choice is a ridge filling base. I tried Nailtek II, Barielle (available in TJMaxx/Marshalls for a much better price) and couple of others. To tell you the truth, they all do a pretty good job; I stick to Nailteck just out of habit.
I used to follow base coat with Orly Bonder, but not anymore. It caused my nails to turn ugly yellow, so I quit. Too bad – Bonder does help the polish to stick better.

Top coat: girl’s best friend and the best thing since sliced bread. Adds shine and depth to the color; prolongs wear; and last but definitely not least – speeds up dreadful drying time. I would not be able to do my nails without Seche Vite (available for much better price from etailers!). It’s like a private time machine: apply SV and – boom – in 15 minutes you can function like a normal human being, without yelling “MY NAILZZZZ!” when your husband wants to hug you. Still, polish is prone to smudges; it will dry completely in 1.5-2 hours. I have tried a bunch of top coats, but for me nothing compares to SV time- and shine-wise. I recall just one total disaster, thou, Essie Good To Go. This one seems to dry for centuries; I ended up redoing mani from scratch.

And before I wrap up this annoyingly long post, I want to mention just one thing – Biotin. It’s a supplement clinically proven to help your nails get stronger. I read a lot of information about Biotin and figured out that optimal dose is between 3000 and 5000 mg daily. I do see a difference in my nails when I take Biotin and I recommend it to all my friends. Please, ask your physician before starting any supplements.

/OK - am I a dork, or what?/