These are just the products I use to care for my nails, so I won't be talking about topcoats, base coats, etc here. Keep an eye out for that post in the future though!
Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
If I had to pick just one nail care item to use for the rest of my life, it would be mah Burt's. I've used a bunch of cuticle care products over the last two years but I always come back to this one, and I'll tell you why. First of all, it does a damn good job. It melts right in to my cuticles and keeps them hydrated nicely. While it may feel a little grainy coming out of the container, when I massage it into my nail area it's soft and smooth without being too greasy or slick (I'm looking at you, LUSH Lemony Flutter). Second, I love the purse-ready tin. Things have to be pretty robust to hold up in my purse and Burt's has proven tough. Third, one tin lasts for-ev-er. I apply it daily and I have no problem getting at least six months out of every tin. After you've let it soften your cuticles, you can also gently push them back for a neater appearance.
Duri Rejuvacote Nail Strengthener
Rejuvacote is like a miracle product. Similar to OPI Nail Envy, Rejuvacote is a product that you apply directly to the nail to improve strength and nail health. I like to wear a coat of it under every manicure. Some people wear it in place of base coat -- I choose to stack them together! Rejuvacote first and then my base coat of choice second. Since I've been using it, Rejuvacote has helped to almost completely eliminate nail breaks and sometimes I feel like it makes them grow faster, too! You can find it on Ninja Polish and Amazon.com. I also heard a rumor this was going to be stocked in Wal Mart but have yet to see it there.
I apply hand lotion/hand cream at least twice a day, and this is the one area of my routine where there's a lot of variation. I have so many hand moisturization products that I just leave them all over the place. That way, I always have one nearby! I usually use a thicker cream at night time and a more lightweight lotion during the day. I don't think the specific product matters so much here as long as your hands are getting the moisture. Favorites include: Fortune Cookie Soap's Whipped Cream Body Butter & OPI Avojuice.
I prefer cuticle cream to cuticle oil for everyday use, but when my nails need a little bit of extra pampering, I'll reach for my CND SolarOil. It seems to condition my cuticles really nicely and smells DELICIOUS (it's the sweet almond oil!). It also absorbs more quickly than the other oils that I've tried. Definitely a win!
Tropical Shine Nail Files
Now, I'm no file expert and I'm certainly not a trained manicurist, but I figured I'd include this anyway. My go-to file is a 220 grit Tropical Shine file that I purchased at Sally Beauty. However, the grit you need will be dependent on the condition and strength of your nails, so stop by Kayla's post about nail files for more information. Remember, never saw back and forth with your nail file. Only file in one direction.
Tips and Tricks
The more consistent you are with your hand care, the faster your hands and nails will improve. My nail care process is no big secret...it's all about consistency! Make it a habit. Here are some tips...
- Keep a container of cuticle cream by your computer monitor or on your bedside table
- Set a reminder alarm on your phone if needed
- Moisturize after you wash your hands, as hand soap and water can be very drying
Don't pick off your nail polish!
Just don't! I know it's tempting, but picking polish is really damaging to your nails and can cause them to grow out weaker. I'll admit that I get a little antsy sometimes and commit this greatest of sins too, but really try to make an effort to avoid it.
Find what works for you.
The products that work for me may not work as well for you! I have faith in these products and think that most people will find them effective, but if something doesn't seem to be working right, do some research on other alternatives. Makeupalley.com is a good resource for product reviews if you want to poke around before you buy.
A new cuticle care routine may take a little while to start showing results. Be patient and stick with it and you should see some changes! If you have ragged skin around your nail beds, try softening and conditioning the area with some cuticle cream or oil before you reach for the nippers. Cuticle nippers are easy to go overboard with, and for many people, they aren't even necessary.
Questions? Like I said, I'm not a licensed nail tech, but if you have questions about these products, please feel free to ask in the comments or email me. I'll do my best to answer them for you!