ManiCare Tips

These are my personal tips and tricks for taking care of my nails and for getting the perfect manicure. These are not random snip bits taken from here and there, these are the things I actually do myself for taking care of my own nails, and I do them because they work! For me anyway, I have seen arguments online about how some of these things *don't work *aren't necessary *are just myths, but the truth is not everything works for everyone, some of these you may find helpful, some of them you may not. It's up to you to keep experimenting with your nail care program until you find exactly what works for you!

1. Cleaning  Your Nails.

I remove dirt from under the nails with your standard nail wash brush and warm soapy water, I try to not to soak them in water as it softens and weakens them, and they get soaked enough when you shower, bathe, wash dishes etc. 

I use a pointed metal nail file to scrape out any dry or dead skin from under the nails along the line of the nail bed and the free edge. YES, you can get dead skin on the fingers under the free edge of your nails just as you can on the rest of your body, if not more because your hands are subjected to all kinds of things such as chemicals, pollutions, and general skin degrading substances.

I remove stains from the surface of my nails with a solution of Peroxide 0.3% and Baking Powder.
First I create a liquid solution by putting 2 or 3 teaspoons of baking powder into a glass of peroxide, then I fill my manicure bowl with the solution and soak my nails for 5 minutes.

I then create a paste in a shot glass, with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and then adding the peroxide to the powder one drop at a time, mixing with the teaspoon until I get a thick paste. I take an old tooth brush and collect the paste onto the bristles and then scrub the surface of my nail with it.
(If you are concerned about germs on your old tooth brush - don't be! Contact with the peroxide will kill any germs immediately!)
The reason I use a tooth brush and not a nail brush, is because the bristles on the tooth brush are much closer together and more compact, making it easier to concentrate the paste on the surface of the bristles. Nail brush bristles are too far apart and the paste will run down the bristles onto the plastic of the brush, instead of gathering on the bristle surface and therefore your nail where it is most effective! 

The peroxide acts as bleach while the large concentration of powder in the paste creates a great abrasive, and is not nearly as harsh as actually sanding and buffing the surface of the nail off.

After I have soaked and scrubbed my nails with the solutions I wash them with soap and warm water, and then apply a moisturising hand cream making sure I massage the cream into my nails and cuticles.

2. Cuticle Removal.

To fix my cuticles I start with a cuticle removing solution that I paint with the brush onto each nail and leave for a couple of minutes to soak in. I find that with certain cuticle removers it dries right up after a couple of minutes, so once I have let the first application soak in I apply it again to one hand at a time so that they are still moist, while I use my cuticle pusher to gently push them back.

Once I have pushed the cuticles back I do a third application of the cuticle remover solution, one hand at a time, and then using the same nail of the opposite hand, I gently scrape the surface of the nail around the cuticle area to remove any cuticle skin that may remain attached to the nail. So to remove cuticle skin from my nail on my left index finger, I gently scrape the surface with the nail of my right hand index finger. I do this because the same nail of the opposite hand is the perfect size and shape to cover it's partner allowing you to scrape lightly with good coverage instead of having to repeatedly scrape the same areas just to make sure you get it all. You must do it gently because you do not want to damage the nail you are scraping with, but also if you scrape too hard you could even remove layers of the actual nail that has been softened by the cuticle solution 

If they are strong enough your own nails can also make great cuticle pushers as they have the perfect curve to push back the cuticle whilst retaining it's natural shape.

These days my cuticles are never big enough to justify cutting them off, but even back in the day when they were big enough, clipping them was often a very difficult task and all too often I would cut off too much and make them bleed which can be very painful and sore for several days after. It also makes it difficult to paint your nails more than once until it has healed, as using polish remover on over cut cuticles stings like a bitch!

Instead of cutting I scrape! I make sure the cuticle is nice and soft and moist with the the cuticle remover solution, I open the cuticle clippers and run the blade of one side of the clipper gently along the cuticle. If the cuticle has been softened enough with the solution, excess skin will peel right off with the blade without having to add any pressure or dig the blade in. You may find it easier to use the blade to start the skin peel on one side of the cuticle, and then once you have a free piece of skin pull it off with a pair of tweezers instead of continuing with the blade. You should still be careful with doing this however as by pulling the skin you can pull off too much and end up with sore cuticles anyway!

If I'm not a rush to get my nails painted, I like to finish by covering the cuticle and entire nail surface with cuticle oil and slowly and gently massage it in. It may be cuticle oil, but it is also good for restoring moisture to your nails which dry out easily with all the acetone causing peeling and cracking.

I wash my hands quickly with warm soapy water to remove any oily residue before applying polish.

*NOTE I do not repeat this process every single time I do my nails which can vary from once every couple of days to several times a day (!) but I aim to do it at least a couple of times a week. My cuticles are in pretty good condition though, so if your own require a bit more work you might consider doing this 3 - 4 times a week. I push back my cuticles a bit more often to obtain nail bed length, and I still apply cuticle oil every time I paint my nails. My general rule is everytime I use polish remover, I must also use cuticle oil, which I apply once I have finished painting my nails.

3. Filing your Nails.

I generally keep my nails in a square shape, though I may round them off slightly if I have broken them and they are quite short as a rounded shape rather than a square one suits my shorter nails better. As my nails grow out I slowly square them out each time I file them.

I don't use any particular nail file just whatever is available when it needs replacing, but I make sure it always has several grades of courseness from very rough to quite fine. 

I shape the nail using the course grade portion of the file until I achieve the shape I want, and then I finish the edges with the fine grade file until they are smooth. As my nails are square I often get quite sharp corners, which I round off gently using only the fine grade file (course grade files off too much of the corners ruining the shape). I then go over the tips again once more and very gently with a glass file to seal them off so they chip and peel a lot less.

I judge the length that I need to file my nails to by looking at them from the top surface of the nail (palm down) as I have uneven nail beds. The nail bed on my little finger is much shorter than that of my middle finger, so the little nail needs to grow longer than the middle nail to appear the same size as it. If you have perfectly even sized nail beds, you can judge the right length to file them to by looking at them from the back (palm up) and seeing if the free edge of each nail extends equally beyond the tip of your finger.

I never really buff and smooth the surface of my nail to make it shiny unless for some reason I am not wearing any polish (which is extremely rare) as this effects the staying power of my polish (more info on that in the next section).

4. Applying Nail Polish.

Before I apply my polish I sand the surface of my nails with a white sanding block, but I do this VERY GENTLY. My aim is only to slightly roughen the surface of the nail so it offers better adhesion, NOT to remove layers of the nail. The concept is very similar to that of painting furniture. If you paint an old door that is already covered in gloss paint, the new layer of paint is going to chip and peel very easily because a smooth finish will not adhere to a smooth finish, and the same applies to polish! By roughening the surface of my nail and using a good base coat and top coat, my mani's often last up to 10 whole days without even a little chip. 

For the base coat I like to mix things up a little, I have base coats that are intended for great adhesion and base coats that also have nourishing qualities. I tend to go for great adhesion, but I try to wear the nourishing base coat at least 2 or 3 times a week. If I'm not wearing polish for any reason I will always have on a nourishing base coat at least, especially for bath time and showering so I have a some protection on my nails as they soften and weaken in the water.

After I've prepared the nail I'm ready to put on the polish, which I apply in 3 even strokes starting with a stroke in the center of the nail and then one down either side, avoiding any contact with the cuticle. It's taken a long time and a lot of practise to get the perfect polish application that is absolutely crisp and doesn't require any clean up on the cuticles. So if you are having trouble applying polish neatly, practice makes perfect! 
When I apply the polish I wait a few minutes between each coat as applying too many layers too quickly can cause bubbles in the polish.

After the polish and any additional nail art I then finish with a top coat, at the moment my favourite is Revlon quick dry, as it has a nice thick consistency which gives good glossy coverage with one coat and doesn't yellow, but that could easily change with my mood and new purchases! If I'm interested in keeping a mani on for a while I will apply a thin layer of new top coat everyday, many say it's not necessary, but I've always found it works wonders for me. I have a friend who always had trouble getting her mani's to last and so I told her to apply top coat every day, she applied it every morning as she got in her car to go to work, then drove there with the windows down to let it dry, and after fitting it so perfectly into her schedule she was amazed to find she got more than a week out of her nails!

5. Polish Removal

I'm sure nobody needs to know how to remove nail polish, but we all know that removing glitter polish is a whole other story! So here's what I do...

I take a cotton pad and cut it up into 4 quarters, a quarter pad for each nail (so 2 and a half pads for 10 nails). I soak each quarter in polish remover and apply it to the nail, and I know a lot of girls do a foil wrap, but I actually prefer to use cling film. I can get a much tighter wrap around my fingers so the air doesn't enter and evaporate the polish remover, that way the remover acts much faster and I only have to wait 2 minutes instead of 5. Also, cling film is like a second skin so I can use my fingers to hold a tea cup and a cigarette while I wait, instead of with the tin foil that is awkward and slips off the fingers easily if I try to do anything!

So this is my nail care program, not all of it may be useful to you but some of it may be!


  1. Excellent information! I thought I knew enough, but I have learned a ton from this article you posted!! Thanks!!! ♥

  2. Thanks Suzy, I'm glad it could be useful to someone! x


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