The first step to all my mani's after I have removed my polish is clean my nails and clean my hands of any stray glitter left behind. I use a manicure brush, these are readily available at almost any beauty supply. I picked mine up from head2toebeauty for around .89cents. I also use a sugar scrub to help with the moisture, I have quit a few different sugar scrubs but my favorite is Qtica Papaya Star Scrub that I received with one of my Zoya orders. It doesn't look like this is readily available by itself. What I love about this scrub is that it doesn't leave my hands greasy like some others I have tried.
Next would be cuticle care. The big thing with this is to make your cuticles look neat. I would say I'm pretty lucky that my cuticles rarely have dead skin or hang nails. About once a week during my "full routine" mani change I use Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover Gel. This has a small tip that you can easily squeeze a small amount around the cuticle and rub it in. You wait a few minutes and then I use my birchwood stick to push back and remove any dead skin. I LOVE this birchwood stick, it's large enough for me to hold easily and it is double ended, one with a pusher and one with a pencil like tip to get underneath my nails as well. I picked mine up from Sally Beauty Supply for about .60cents. During the week if I get any hang nails or small pieces of dead skin I use my cuticle nippers to clip it off. I know some use regular nail clippers but I love these because they are pointed and get exactly where I need it. NEVER EVER EVER clip live skin, this will cause your cuticles and skin around it to grow back thicker and harder then before.
Moisturizing is KEY to everything. I use a load of different products, but here I have shown you some of my favorites. OPI Avojuice is what a lot of salons use, I was lucky enough to find a beauty supply around me that sells beauty products in bulk and got this large one for the price of a smaller one say at Ulta. They have nice scents and leave my skin super soft. The next thing I love is KBShimmers whipped shea butter in Vanilla. I use this once in the morning and once at night. It smells so divine and it melts into your skin without leaving a sticky greasy feeling. One other thing I really love is my Hoofer's Choice Nail and Cuticle cream. This also acts as a nail hardener which has helped strengthen my nails TREMENDOUSLY! My nails have never been as strong as they are today. I thank Hoofer's Choice for that;)
BIGGEST KEY OF ALL! To have really nice looking cuticle's cuticle oil is a MUST. Now, some of you may know, especially if you follow me on Instagram I am a HUGE cuticle oil hoarder. I love all of the different scents that they come in. I've chosen some of my favorites to show you. Polish Addict in Cucumber Melon, Nfu-oh in Budding Vanilla, and Sunny's Miracle Balm in Watermelon. I love all of these for different reasons. Polish Addict I like to use at night because it is long lasting, and it hydrates my nails while I'm catching up on some zzz's. The Nfu-oh I like to keep in my purse, it smells good and allows me to put it on throughout the day (But I also have around 4 other ois in my purse as well) and Sunny's Miracle Balm I like to use before I take photo's. Why? Because this is a balm so it doesn't leave any grease spots and soaks in rather quickly but keeps them looking nice. I love cuticle oil so much it is literally in every room of my house. I LOVE CUTICLE OIL!!! ;)
Filing, this is another big'n for me. I like to keep my nails square. Everyone has a nail shape they like but I think this one suits me well. When I first started painting my nails I was using the cardboard files, I could NEVER get my nails to square out the way I wanted. Then I found out about glass nail files. Oh the wonders that these bad boys could do. They make my nails not only square, but almost perfectly shaped each and every time. One thing I do as well is I file the sides of my nails to help keep that square shape and to keep from overgrowth of the sides of my nails. The cult nails file I leave in my purse since it has the fancy case to it;)
Base Coats 101: I've tried a million different base coats, some I love, some I hate, the ones I'm showing you are forever keepers in my book. I still will use others but these are just a few. Beauty Secrets, I use this one when I'm swatching. I know, I know, silly that I use a basecoat when swatching, but I'm really anal about staining that if I have to stop in the middle of swatching to pick up the baby or get Isaac something, I know my nails are protected from start to finish. Next, Rejuvacote. I LOVE this. My nails are so healthy looking and always grow really quickly when I use this. It also bonds with the nail polish and ALWAYS lets my mani's last longer. I use this when I'm wearing a "permanent" (maybe up to 3 days :P) mani. It is now available at my Wal-Mart so no more Amazon buying it for me!!! Then your probably wondering why that Seche Vite bottle there is white, but says topcoat. Well I had an empty bottle so I ended up putting glue in it so I can use it for a peel off base coat. I love using this method ESPECIALLY with glitter bombs or indie polishes. It makes my life 1000x easier, and saves my hands from acetone.
Top Coat 101: Okay, we all know that there are a MILLION different topcoats. We all have our preferences, here are just a FEW of the ones that I love. Obviously, Seche Vite is a given. Everyone knows about it, but what I find is that most people have a love/hate relationship with it. What I love about it is it gives me that super shine and drys SUPER quickly. What I hate about it is it shrinks the polish and tends to pull up my mani if I've put on too thick of a coat. Next, Out the Door is quickly becoming a favorite as well. It gives a gel like shine and actually is super quick drying, I have found no shrinkage with it, but haven't used it enough to see if it gets goopy after about 1/3 use of the bottle. Lastly, I really love NYC- In a New York Minute. It doesn't give a "gel" like shine but it does give it a great look. It doesn't dry as quickly as it proclaims, but as you can see from my bottle I really do love it. (Don't worry I have 3 back up bottles of it;))
Organization: This is a big deal to me. In a previous post you saw that I keep all of my polish in my melmers. Well how do I go about deciding what I want to wear when I can't see everything that I have? This is where my swatch sticks come in hands. I found these at a local beauty supply for a great deal because I didn't want to wait to receive them from eBay. I only have about 1/3 (what is shown isn't all of the sticks I have done) but I will slowly but surely get all caught up and make a spreadsheet. Each stick is labeled with the brand name and the color it is. What I like about these as opposed to nail wheels is if I have a glitter topper, I can easily choose a base by "laying" the stick on the color to see if it goes well together!
Lighting: This is what ensures that your photo's look neat and clear. Now, I'm not telling you to run out and get an entire studio type set up like I had to have, I did this out of me being anal and wanting to look fancy, ey, you fancy huh? I really love my set up and it really does make a difference for me. But even a good table lamp with a fluorescent daylight bulb would do just as well.
Camera: This is the camera I use for my photo's. You thought it would be something fancy right? Nope, not at all. I use a Nikon Coolpix L1610 and I LOVE IT! It takes great photo's and has the right amount of settings I need to ensure great photo's. I purchased mine at Target for $150.
And that's it folks, I hope that this helps some of you because I know I used to have no clue as to what I was doing. If you have any other questions that I didn't answer please feel free to comment below or use the contact tab to contact me and we can duke it out;)
Until Next Time!