Friday, January 13, 2012

My manicure essentials and routine! Long Post!

I thought I'd talk about some of my Holy Grail nail products that I have been using for the past year as well as my manicure routine. Now, you do not necessarily have to buy all of these but the reason as to why I have so many is that I like to try new products (& shop).  Mainly, shop.

Also, let me preface that these products work well for me but may not necessarily work for you.  Please consult the product packaging or manufacturer if you have allergies or sensitivities.

My go-to products from Left to Right: Zoya's Remove +, DL Cuticle Remover, CND's Solar Oil, Qtica NNGS, Crystal file, Lush's Lemony Flutter

Zoya's Remove + is a fast acting yet moisturizing polish remover (with acetone). I wouldn't recommend non-acetone removers because they're slower working causing the product to sit longer on your nail. Thus, drying out your cuticles more.  Main ingredients for Remove + are water, acetone, glycerin and noxious scent. You can watch a video on how to custom mix a more moisturizing and cost efficient remover here (not by me).

Deborah Lippman's Cuticle Remover.  I use this about once a week or once every other week. This helps prevent overgrown cuticles and helps my nails look salon perfect! I apply this to my cuticles wait a few minutes and gently push them back with a cuticle pusher then wash my hands. I purchased this at Nordstrom or I think it can be found where other Deborah Lippman products are sold.  A little goes a long way.  I've been using this for 4 months now and that's how much I've used.

Ms. Lizard PSA - Please do not cut your cuticles! Thank you. 

CND's Cuticle Eraser - sorry my bottle looks beat up.  I used to keep it in my purse.  It's an Alpha Hydroxy treatment meaning that it microexfoliates dead skin cells.  I use this after I use the cuticle remover or on off days when my cuticles need some touch up.  You apply a small drop and rub it in.  

CND's Solar Oil - I think this is a lot of nail enthusiasts' essential nail product.  Solar Oil is fast absorbing and highly moisturizing. The ingredients are Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Almond Fragrance, Tocopherol Acetate. Since it is an oil, I use this at night or I wait long enough for it to absorb in. I use this product the most.

You can also go to your local health food store and purchase essential oils to custom make your own. I can post later about a cuticle oil recipe because I used to make my own.

Qtica Intense Cuticle Repair Balm - the main ingredient is lanolin.  It has a mediciny grandma scent (no offense grandma!).  It's really thick and the consistency of petroleum jelly.  I'd say use this if your cuticles are really dry or if you wash your hands often.  I use this at night.  Also, if I feel my hands/cuticles are really dry, I apply this and some hand lotion and wear cotton moisture gloves

Lush's Lemony Flutter - the main ingredients are shea butter, beeswax and lanolin. It smells like refreshing limes and lemons. It's the consistency of a really thick lotion or body butter. I put this on my heels and toes before I put on shoes for the day and at night. This is also the go-to product for many nail bloggers. It has a one-year shelf life and I need to use this up soon!

Qtica Natural Nail Growth Stimulator - is a nail strengthener with garlic extract.  I will post more about strengtheners as well.  I used this as my base coat to help strengthen my nails.  I've recently stopped using it. 

Please note that prolonged use of nail hardeners/strengtheners can cause nail yellowing and brittleness and eventual breaks.  I learned this the hard way because all the nails just snapped off one right after the other within a week! 

Hardeners/strengtheners are only meant to be used for a short period of time. i.e. 2-3 months. This treatment would be good for soft peeling nails or if you're transitioning from artificial nails to growing your nails naturally.  As a treatment, you apply as your base coat and as a top coat over polish every 2-3 days then remove then repeat.  Please research around to see if this type of treatment is right for you.  

Crystal/Glass nail files - aw what's better than ONE crystal nail file, TWO crystal nail files! ah ah ah
Don't buy one, buy two. One for home and one for your work or purse. I've seen shorter ones for your purse. Also, OPI, Essie and Sephora make their own type of crystal file. I bought these at an ABC store during my last vacation. These can be found at any beauty or nail supply.

What makes them so special?  The grit is incredibly fine sealing the nail edges and won't cause your nail layers to splinter or peel.  Please throw out your old nail files and clippers.  Use this to take down nail length and shape your nails.  File in one direction.  Also, crystal files can be easily sanitized and stored.  This is also recommended for thin peeling nails.     

Also, pictured is a 3-sided nail buffer.  Use this once a month to remove ridges, stains or peeling.  

In sum, my basic manicure/nail routine consists of: 
  1. Removing all polish with Remove +
  2. Push back cuticles using a cuticle remover (or cuticle eraser).
  3. Moisturizing.
  4. Shape my nails with a crystal file. 
  5. If I want to start another mani, I prep with another swipe of Remove + to remove oil. 
  6. Apply polish.
  7. Throughout the day and at night, I moisturize as needed. 
  8. I strictly adhere to the nail Golden Rule.  Treat your nails as jewels NOT tools. **I can write about nail do's and don'ts later. 
I also bought another product to try recently. 

Trind Nail Balsam - is a hydrating nail treatment.  It's supposed to help replenish your nail's natural moisture when applied over bare nails.  The main ingredients are water and biotin.  Biotin is touted as hair and nail growth stimulator.  It's also oil free so once it absorbed you don't have to prep your nail again.  I haven't really got to use this yet but did try it on my toes. 

I hope to use this product to hyrdrate and reduce nail brittleness. 

Sorry this post was so long.  I hope it was informative without being too boring. Also, let me know if I need to elaborate further.  

Thanks for reading! 

What are some of your Holy Grail nail products?  Do you like to shop when you're bored? 


  1. This is REALLY good, gold even! At the mo I'm just using cuticle oil and some delicious smelling OPI hand lotion. I've thought about a growth stimulator polish/undercoat but unsure if the brand you mentioned is readily available here...will have to investigate (SHOP) further LOL.

    1. I don't think that strengthener is available in Australia. Basically all I can say is read the ingredients and know what they do if you don't know then find out. Avoid lotions & cuticle oils with mineral oil or stearic acid. Both are really irritating for the skin. I'm one of those weirdos that sits and reads the ingredients on everything including that size -0 font on cat food. (b/c he eats better than I do!) I also used to work at the Body Shop & L'occitane; that's where it started.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I'm so jealous of your nails and its nice to see what steps/products you are using. I've got to get my hand on a crystal file. Oh and I didn't know that the nail growth stimulators are to be used for a short time. That kind of stinks, is there anything out there that can be used for the long term?

    1. Don't be jealous. The reason why I write this blog is to help others so that you too can have nice nails. Cheesy huh? Thought so. Believe me my nails were damaged for many years.

      The point of strengtheners is to repair the nail damage and once it's repaired then it's about maintaining overall upkeep and length. My recent purchase with Trind featured their other products and they have a nail repair system. Try researching more into their products.

  3. I just joined your blog~your nail art is simply beautiful. :) I really enjoyed this post...especially the part about the crystal nail file. I am still using the buffing file (from Sally's) and I have often wondered if I should look into purchasing a crystal/glass file. I will definitely check into them the next time I'm at Sally's. =)

    1. Thank you! I hope you like my page. As for crystal files, I think a lot of women don't know about them and they buy those high grit paper files and saw their nails down.

      Even though they're more expensive, the grit won't wear down and you don't have to replace it. That green I've used for 2yrs now.

  4. Did you ever post the reason why you shouldn't soak your nails??

  5. I saw ur natural nails on ur latest YouTube video and thought they were so beautiful. My nails are so clear, do u kno why that could be? I want my nails thicker but they just won't thicken. Any suggestions? Maybe a video on how u maintain ur nails. Thank u

  6. So happy to read this, so very valuable! I added many products to my amazon wish list! I used to bite my nails terribly for 36 years! I have recently stopped (successfully stopped, have tried for years) and am discovering nail art, I love your facebook page!


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