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Nail Care!

Some people have great genetics and don’t really need to do anything to ensure their nails are strong but unfortunately I’m not one of those lucky people. These are the products I use to keep my nails in top shape (an ongoing battle!)

Firstly I am taking Imedeen Hair & Nails tablets which contain Biotin. Biotin is technically vitamin H but is part of the B vitamin family. It helps promote healthy nails and hair growth (for what it’s worth it has yet to give me long, flowing locks!). I have problems with the strength of my nails (and I always have) and biotin helps prevent breaks and makes my nails harder. That’s very important to me as daily polish changes are very hard on the nails! The RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Biotin is 300mcg so that is all I take. If you want to take more or less just do so at your own discretion and be smart about it! It is possible to take too much of a kind of vitamin and it can be harmful. So do your research first! I will say that some people take Biotin and find that their skin breaks out. This has never happened to me…and there’s no way to predict if it will happen to you, but it would be wrong of me to say it’s a perfect product for everyone! There’s no harm (that I know of!) in trying it out and seeing if it works for you. Granted, I’m not a medical professional…so if you’re unsure, ask your doctor!


The next thing you need is a good basecoat. Basecoats protect your nails from staining and most basecoats often have ingredients like calcium, Vitamin E and protein that will help strengthen your nail. Before applying your basecoat make sure to swipe some nail polish remover on your nails to remove any oils that would prevent the basecoat from adhering to the nail. Basecoats provide a smoother surface of your nail, they make your polish stick to the nail better. Apply the basecoat in three strokes, once down the middle and once on either side. Make sure to let it dry completely before applying your colour or it will cause your polish to chip! I have been using Lumos basecoat. I really like Lumos because the second you apply polish over Lumos it begins to bond together and dry the layers of polish and then when you put Lumos topcoat on top the two work together and dry the polish from the bottom and top and work their way to the middle of the polish. There’s just something about that which really appeals to me and I find the two in tandem work very well together!

A good topcoat is vital when applying nail polish. If for no other reason than most women (me especially!) don’t have the time or patience to wait for our nails to dry on their own. Most topcoats are now formulated to dry quickly and allow your nails to be dry to the touch and dent-proof within minutes. When juggling work, children and a home…I know I don’t have twenty minutes to sit with my hands perfectly still and wait for them to dry just in case I accidentally brush up against something and ruin my manicure (and then have to start all over!). A good topcoat will also increase the shine of your polish, making it more attractive, more eyecatching. It will also extend the life of your polish (and you can “top up” your manicure yourself by adding a fresh topcoat layer to your nails and it should extend the life of your manicure even further). At the moment I am using Lumos topcoat. It dries very quickly and is incredibly shiny!
Wearing nail poilsh is good for your hands. It makes them look attractive, it makes us want to present our hands to people. It keeps us from biting our nails (one of the reasons I wear nail polish so religiously!) or picking at our cuticles.
Treating your nails right with the right basecoat and topcoat can only get you so far. Proper nail care is more complex than just two products (and Biotin!). Nail oil has the same effect for your fingers as water for your organs. It’s that essential, it moisturises and feeds your nail and cuticles, keeps them healthy and strong. If you are not allergic to nuts I would advise looking for an oil with almonds in it, almond oil has some of the smallest molecules so it can sink through nail polish into your nails and keep your nails moisturised. Nails break when they get long because they stop receiving moisture (outside of some external source – like getting caught on something). You need to moisturise your nails at least three times a day so I’ve taken to carrying around a small bottle of almond oil and rubbing it into each finger and onto the nail, also around the cuticle. Problems with cuticle growth and nail groove interfering with your nail plate are directly relating to lack of moisture! Right now I am alternating between CND’s Solar Oil and OPI’s Avoplex Oil.

Here’s a quick photo i grabbed from google images that helps relate to the last part of the post!
This is a simple breakdown of what your nail is. The nail plate is where the polish goes, the lunula (latin for little moon) is the only visible part of the root of your nail which goes down into the matrix where your eponychium (cuticle) covers the actual ‘live’ and delicate part of your finger. One of the reasons it’s so important to NEVER cut off your cuticles yourself is that the annoying bit of skin that covers your nail is there for protection. If you cut and expose it to the elements you are taking away the protective covering for your fingernail that keeps it healthy and growing. It would be like taking away all the hairs from inside your nose. It might not be attractive but it’s there because it keeps bad bits out! That’s why when you get your nails done and they are cutting your cuticles and they pull too hard and your finger starts bleeding (maybe this only happens to me) you need to be so cautious. I don’t touch my cuticles, I always leave it to a professional. I don’t get professional manicures often, maybe once every couple months when I feel I need a cleanup around my cuticles and let someone trained in nail care remove my cuticles (because they were taught how to do this and I was not!).

I will say that the nail groove on my nails makes me crazy, that’s one of the reasons I’m trying so hard to use these products to improve the quality of my nail groove/eponychium. Sometimes (on my fingers) it can get very thick and doesn’t grow properly and ends up leading to cuticle problems. I’m hopeful that the almond oil will counteract and eliminate this problem.

In closing…there is often a misconception that your nails need to ‘breathe’. It truly is a misconception. The part of your nail that you can see, touch and cover with lacquer isn’t alive, it is made up of 100 layers of hardened, dead keratin. It does not require oxygen to exist and covering it with nail polish is akin to wearing clothes. It doesn’t hinder you in any way, if anything it helps you. Nail polish (be it coloured or clear) can help maintain nail strength and keep you from biting your nails or cuticles. Please do not bite your nails or cuticles (I admit I’m a cuticle picker/biter which is another reason I am using these products to end this habit). Your mouth is full of nasty bacteria that is important for your mouth but bad to get into your bloodstream through your cuticles. Also if your cuticles are bleeding and exposed they are more likely to end up with bad bacteria and this can (in extreme cases) lead to septicaemia (aka sepsis/poison) in your body. Bad, bad bad!


Have you voted in the Tesco Your Beauty Awards? Tesco want to find out peoples lifesavers and luxuries for 2011. They have had 55 products shortlisted by a team of experts and for every person that votes they will be put into a prize drawer for the chance to win all 55 products each week.  As an added bonus every voter will be given the chance to win a luxury seven night holiday to Antigua for two!! I know I’ve voted…I want a free holiday! Have you voted?

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4 comments to Nail Care!

  • ATR

    I just buy Biotin straight up – Don't fall for the gimmicky "Hair & Nails Super Formula" or whatever…the rest of the pill is just filler. Walgreens usually has a B1G1 in their vitamin section so you can save a little $$ that way. :)

  • I agree about not letting your nails "breathe". If I don't keep my nails polished, they tear or break immediately. I am also a nail biter/cuticle picker, and keeping them painted keeps me from chewing!
    My recent post Barielle: Karma Kollection of Shades

  • I have to admit something…the book nerd in me is attracted to that brand of base and top coat simply because 'Lumos' is a spell in the Harry Potter books.
    ….now that's out of the way…..
    I definitely see a difference in the health and strength of my nails since I've begun regularly taking the time to care for and moisturize my cuticles. I'm convinced that this, paired with an effort to shape my nails with something less harsh (a glass file rather than any old emery board) is why they are longer than they have ever been. It is definitely worth the effort!
    My recent post Summer Breeze

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