Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My nail care routine

I've been meaning to write this post for a very long time, but I kept postponing it for various reasons. I think the ultimate reason is, I'm no expert. Most of the stuff I do is not that complicated. It's known by a lot of people and there are tons of articles online about it. However, I've been asked many times about certain aspects of my nail care routine and I recently realized that not everybody knows this stuff. For us nail bloggers this is just basic nail care, but for others my post could be useful. Most of the info I've gathered myself, from reading online articles and blog posts, and some of it is based on my personal experience too. You have to remember that not everything works for everybody. You have to try and experiment. And if something doesn't work for you, you have to look for something better. So this is basically what I do. It doesn't mean you have to do it and it doesn't mean it's the best way. If you are looking for expert advice, there are a lot of blogs out there that focus on nail care only. This is only my two cents about the subject.

Trimming and filing

The best method to shorten your nails is, of course, by filing them. I like to use this method when I don't have to take a lot from the length of the nail. It is ideal to do it about once a week, if your nails don't break, so they remain to a constant length.The best file to use is a glass file. I use one from Ebelin (pictured above). I know there are better ones out there but this one is readily available to me, it's cheap and it does the job. There are many advantages to using a glass file. It prevents splits and peels on you nails and it doesn't wear off like other files do. You can just run it under the water and it becomes rough again. I know that there's a rule that says you should only file in one direction. Well, I must confess I don't respect that one. It takes a lot less time if you do it in both directions and honestly, it's the same to me. 

Filing is also useful for shaping your nails. My favorite shape is oval because it makes my fingers look longer and thinner. I won't say a lot about what shape you should choose but I will say this. Try choosing a shape that suits your hands and the shape of your nail bed. Try to ignore the trends and do what's best for you. A nail shape might be in style but it might also look horrible on you. Experiment and find out what looks best on you, then stick with it! 

Whenever I have to take a lot from the length of my nails, like when one of them breaks and I have to take 2-3 mm off the other ones, I use nail clippers or nail scissors, because filing would take too long. I usually am not a fan of the clippers and I will tell you why. I have experienced a lot of splitting in my nails when clipping them. This might be because my clippers aren't sharp enough, I don't know. Truth is that I prefer nail scissors. These don't split my nails and the shape you cut is also more precise with them. 


This is another controversial subject in the nail world. Some say you should, some say you shouldn't. I say, well, do whatever you feel best. I never used to buff my nails until I had some major staining from a polish (China Glaze Sunshine Pop to be more precise). I had to buff them to get rid of the stained layer and that's when I found out how smooth my nails can be without those nasty ridges. I've been buffing them ever since. But I only do it once every 1-2 weeks and I try to concentrate on the newly grown portion. Please don't buff the same area multiple times or you'll end up with no nail left at all. And please, if you have thin nails, don't do it at all. Ridges are not the worst thing and there are tons of ridge filling base coats out there. 

I also use a buffer to get rid of peels and splits. It's important to take care of these so they don't spread further down your nail. This is why it's very handy to have one of those buffers that has multiple sides with different roughness levels. Most of them have also some steps drawn on them so you know in what order and for what to use them. I mostly just ignore those and test out each one to see how it works for me and then just use them for whatever I need them. The buffer I use right now is from Claire's, but you can find these in any drugstore. You can also find sets of multiple roughness individual buffers, like the one pictured above, if you prefer those. 

Cuticle care

This is definitely the most important aspect in nail care and it's the one I get most questions about. So I'm sure I'm gonna ramble a lot about it. First things first, I will tell you that I don't trim my cuticles. In fact, it's the one thing I strongly disagree with. I will not have any sharp objects near my cuticles ever. And I do have reasons. You are practically cutting from your own flesh here and causing a wound is not uncommon. Wounds are the main gate for infection so I will not let you do that to yourself. And people who claim they are very good at it and never cut too deep are just acting stupid. I've seen girls with wounds after they have been given a manicure by a professional. So it can happen to anyone sooner or later. Plus the sight of trimmed cuticles is not even pretty. Usually they look like a part of your finger is missing or your nail had some kind of accident. It's just unnecessary to go through this.

Now that we got this out of the way, let's see what we can do with those cuticles. The key points of cuticle care are gentleness and moisturization. I do remove them but I'm very gentle with them. I first soften them up with a cuticle removal gel. I use one from Kallos but a lot of brands have one. Be careful though. Some of these are rougher than others. Mine is pretty gentle so I can leave it on without worrying that it might burn my cuticles like some others do. I then gently push them using the special plastic tool from my manicure kit. Some people like to use orange wood sticks but I think this one is a lot more gentle because it's soft and not that sharp. I push the cuticles gently with this tool until the part that is sticking to the nail lifts off. The dead skin usually breaks off by itself when I do this. Keep in mind though that if you are doing this for the first time and you have really thick cuticles, it won't work as easily. It took me some time and a few repeats of this process before I got them this way. Now the buildup I have is very thin and it can break off very easily. I only do this once a week. If you are new to this keep trying and your cuticles will improve over time. Just please don't push them more than 1 or 2 times a week or they might get too irritated.

Kallos cuticle removal gel and cuticle removal tool
After we've removed them, we have to moisturize! And moisturize, and moisturize and moisturize! Get it? This is the most important thing and if you slack off in this department, it will always show. You can even notice it in my pictures when I didn't do my moisturization properly. You can use all sorts of cuticle oils or balms. All brands have them and there's also olive oil, which can easily be found in your kitchen. I don't really like oil running down my fingers so I've found that vaseline works best for me. It's cheap, it's solid and it works wonders on your cuticles. Even so, I don't apply it unless they are very dry. That's how lazy I am. But my friend at all times is hand cream. I have a few hand creams and lotions and I apply them several times a day. The thinner ones are for when I have to touch stuff and don't want greasy fingers, the thicker ones are for when my hands are very dry. I always focus on the cuticles when I apply hand cream and rub them properly to make sure the cream is absorbed. I never go to bed without putting hand cream on first. It's the only ritual I have before closing my eyes at night and it has helped me a lot. But you don't have to be a freak like me and use more than one. One hand cream is enough if it suits you and gives good results. 

various creams and lotions I use

So to sum it up, here's my nail care routine: 
  • Filing - about once a week
  • Nail buffing - every other week
  • Cuticle removal - once a week
  • Moisturization - several times a day
That's it! I hope this post was useful and you learned something new from it! If you have any questions or suggestions, I would be happy to discuss them in the comment section. Please don't be afraid to comment! Thank you for reading and take care!


  1. I agree with you on trimming your cuticules. They are easier to take care of, when you don't trim, and they look much better.

  2. I love seeing posts like this!! I have very difficult cuticles and sometimes even the best cuticle remover doesn't soften them up as much as I would like. So sometimes, I have to trim off hangnails because the remover just doesn't take care of them =(

  3. I'm glad you do! And it's much more healthy!

  4. Thank you! Sorry to hear that. I just hope you don't hurt yourself when you trim them. Hangnails really are a pain.

  5. Do you think cuticles stop growing so much over time? I remove them with cuticle remover maybe once or twice a month and almost nothing comes off... maybe I'm doing it wrong???
    My staples are Lemony Flutter by Lush and Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream. It's so hard to keep those cuticles properly moisturized!!!

  6. I think they don't grow as much if you constantly moisturize them. Dry cuticles always cause the dead skin to stick to your nails and thicken up, but if they are nice and hydrated they don't do that. We don't have Burt's Bees here and Lush is also only an online store and it's kinda expensive. But I think vaseline works great and I'm happy with it.


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