How Healthy Are Your Nails? 6 Tips for Stronger, Healthier Nails

Happy Friday lovelies! So I have a confession to make. I have not been taking as good a care of my nails as I should be. Life has gotten busier for me and while and my normal routine for nail care has fallen by the wayside. It's one of the reasons (the other being the change in the weather, which always wreaks havoc on my nails) why I experienced two major breaks within a week of each other. It was a wake up call to me to get back into my daily nail care habits. I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing this at the moment and so today's post has some helpful tips for nail health during the Fall/Winter seasons.

 

1. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

I really can't say this enough. The fall and winter season wreak havoc on our skin and our nails are no exception to this. If you are like me and have naturally dry nails to begin with, this is even more true. I tackle this in three steps: Cuticle oil. cuticle balm and hand cream. In that order. In the mornings and evening I use cuticle oil and gently push back my cuticles ( I do this while my hands and nails are still damp from washing my face). I then follow with hand cream. When I get to work, throughout my day I apply cuticle balm and/or oil and again gently push my cuticles back. I apply hand cream after every time I wash my hands. I recommend staying away from hand creams that have fragrance. Fragrance generally equals a high alcohol content which will only further dry out your skin and nails in the long run. 

2. Keep Your Nails Painted

Some people think they need to give their nails a break from polish so they can "breathe". This is unnecessary because, like the hair on our head, the only living part of our nails is the at the ends of our nails under the epidermis (skin) - which is why cuticle care is so important! Painting your nails keeps them protected from the elements and from any dings and bang they may get during our day to day lives. If you want to give yourself a break from colored polish then use a clear base and top coat as protection.

3. Take a Biotin or Fish Oil Supplement

Now I recommend taking Biotin with caution. I took a biotin on and off for a few months and experienced massive breakouts on my face. I know others who have experienced the same and some who had no issues at all. It's really the luck of the draw. You have to drink MASSIVE amounts of water to stay hydrated and prevent this from happening. I drank a ton of water and still experienced breakouts. But - my nails and hair were both stronger during that time. So like I said, proceed with caution. If your skin is sensitive and prone to breakouts like mine is, I would avoid it.  Fish Oil supplements were actually recommended to me by my eye doctor to helps with my dry eyes. They also help with keeping hair, skin and nails hydrated. I was awful about taking them but have gotten back into taking them on a regular basis along with my multi-vitamin.

 
<

Join the Tribe

It's time to unleash the nail polish Valkyrie within!

Subscribe to receive your FREE Manicure Checklist.

Powered by ConvertKit
 

4. Stay Hydrated

This one should go without saying but I know a lot of people who simply do not drink enough water. But it's a necessity. And if you're wondering why your skin, hair and nails are dry and dull you may want to take a good long look at your water intake. I drink water everyday. I keep a bottle on my desk. But I simply wasn't drinking enough throughout the day and my skin and nail began to suffer for it. Now I try to stay aware of how much water I'm taking in. Breaking it up into parts of my day helps: I try to take in 16 ounces in the morning with my breakfast. Another 16 ounces from late morning to early afternoon. 16 ounces with my lunch and 16-18 ounces from when I get home and with my dinner. 

5. Avoid Using Acetone to Remove Polish

This may sound like a bit of a contradiction since I added acetone as one of the must haves in my nail supply arsenal. And it still plays and integral role in my weekly nail care and nail art routine. I use it for clean up and to fix any mistakes I may make. But I no longer use it to remove my polish. At least - not in it's 100% pure form. It is incredibly harsh and strips your nails of their natural oils,  making them drier and more brittle - and therefore more prone to breaks. I started using Zoya Remove awhile ago and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a strong remover that won't strip the nails. It is an acetone-based remover that has oils and moisturizers in it that prevents the nails from being dried out. You can also make your own version of Zoya Remove. There are quite a few DIY recipes online that show how to do this. It's relatively easy and affordable to do. 

6. Avoid Acrylic Nails

Now this is a controversial tip. There are tons of nail artists who will tell you that if acrylic nails are done right they do not have an adverse effect on the health of your natural nails. I personally can only go by my own experiences and I have never found a time when they didn't have an adverse effect on my nails. After wearing acrylics my nails were always thinner, weaker and more prone to breaking. So, I say if you can, simply avoid them or wear them sparingly. Wearing tips as opposed to full nail extensions can also help limit the damage.. I've used tips in the past both professionally and by DIY-ing them and though my natural nail tips were weaker when I removed them, the nail itself was okay. 

 

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any tips or tricks that you use to keep your nails looking their best let me know in the comments!

 

Join the Tribe

It's time to unleash the nail polish Valkyrie within!

Subscribe to receive your FREE Manicure Checklist.

Powered by ConvertKit
<Follow

Best Burgundy Polishes for Fall

Happy Friday gang! It is finally starting to feel like Fall in my neck of the woods and I am starting to dig out my favorite fall vampy nail polish shades. It's one of my favorite things about this year - you get to wear dark polish without anyone automatically assuming you're Goth lol! Which I may be just a little in my own mind if not in practice. Today is a round up of a few of the best burgundy polishes out there today. Some of these are my picks and some are picks that friends of mine consider their holy grail vamps!

 

 

Get Your Free Checklist!

Nail_art_arsenal_checklist

Join the Valiantly Varnished Tribe and be on your way to becoming a nail art ninja!

Powered by ConvertKit
 
Follow

The Must Have Items For Your Nail Art Arsenal

 I often have people ask me how to get started in nail art. That's a bit of a loaded question. Nail Art encompasses so many things from, stamping to freehand to gradients. As a response to that question I  decided to compile a list of the must have items you will need to begin your nail art journey. These are things that pretty much always come in handy no matter what kind of nail art you are doing. This is in my opinion, the holy grail of nail art items. Pretty much everyone who does nail art has all or most of these items in their arsenal. And the awesome thing about it: they are affordable and easy to come by!

 

1. Acetone

 

I stopped using pure acetone awhile ago simply because it had become drying to my already naturally dry nails. But I still use it for nail art. I use it to clean up messy edges of stamping or to clean up around my cuticle when I am not using my liquid barrier. I pay about $3.00 for a bottle at Sally's Beauty Supply and it lasts me a pretty long time. If you are doing anil art this is a must have since the little bottles of nail polish remover you get from your local drugstore wont' be strong enough to cut through layers of polish or to give you crisp clean edges.

 

2. Felt Squares or Rounds

This is a new one for me. I know so many other bloggers have been using these for ages but I am on the late freight. You are probably wondering why the hell you would need felt pieces for nail art. Well...they make excellent nail polish remover pads! Yup. You heard right. The felt doesn't absorb too much of the remover and the slight texture helps "pull" the polish off the nail easily and quickly. Also unlike with cotton, you don't get annoying pieces of fibers stuck on your nails. I wish I had started using these sooner. It would have made my nail art life so much easier! I ordered mine from *Amazon. You get a little over 40 pieces in this pack for less than $8 bucks.

 

3. Liquid Barrier

This has been a god send in the nail art world! Basically what it is is liquid latex that you apply around your cuticles to protect them from excess polish while you are creating your nail art masterpiece. Once your masterpiece is complete you just peel it off and voila! No long messy clean up process. I still occasionally have to get out my acetone and clean-up brush for a few bits here and there but generally i just stick with my liquid barrier. There are tons of liquid barrier on the market right now, but the one I swear by is Ellagee Lickity Split Mani Mask. It comes in color or clear and in latex and non-latex formula if you have a latex allergy. I love this stuff! It retails for  only $4.75. And the best part about this particular liquid latex? You can use it under polish as a base! I use this for my marathon swatching sessions and it's cut back on how much times it take by half!

 

4. Clean-up Brush

When I am applying a base clor for my nail art I usually hold off on applying the liquid barrier until my base color has completely dried to avoid any oopsies. But I do use a clean-up brush around my cuticles with a bit of acetone to clean up any mess and to create a crisp clean edge around my cuticle. For this you need a good clean-up brush. Now I have to admit, I am pretty lazy about picking a good clean-up brush. I often just gran a random brush from one of my nail art brush sets - which is bad. Because once you have used them for clean-up they are pretty much useless for nail art. So today I will say do as I say and not as I do and buy a brush specifically for this purpose. The E.L.F Small Angled Brush is one that many a nail art blogger has waxed on lovingly about. It's cheap, easy to find and easy to use. I know some girls who buy a bunch at a time so that when one becomes ratty they have a fresh one at the ready.  You can find these brush one E.L.F. website or at Target and they retail for $3. 

 

5. Makeup Sponges

Do you really want to create some kick-ass gradients? Well you're gonna need makeup sponges! Yup - all those beautiful gradients you see on blogs and Pinterest are created with the help of these little guys. I also use this when I use nail vinyls (more on those further down in the post!) to prevent bleeding. To make them easier to use I cut mine into three pieces. This also makes them last a good long while. I just ran out of sponges and ordered these from *Amazon. You get a decent amount in the bag for $5. And they're latex free!

 

Get Your Free Checklist!

Nail_art_arsenal_checklist

Join the Valiantly Varnished Tribe and be on your way to becoming a nail art ninja!

Powered by ConvertKit

6. Nail Art Brush Set

As you become more comfortable with freehand nail art and using nail art brushes, you will want to perhaps invest in more expensive, better quality nail art brushes. But for the beginner, I recommend an inexpensive set like the one. I actually own a couple of sets myself that i use when I am practicing nail art designs. And there are a few brushes in the set that you can do amazing work with. This set is from *Amazon and only costs $5.99 which is about how much I would spend on a set like this. More expensive nail art brushes can start from anywhere from $7 all the way up to $30. If you aren't ready to invest that kind of money this set is a great place to start. 

 

7. Dual-Ended Dotting Tool

I cannot stress he importance of owning a dotting tool enough. You can do sooo many amazing designs with them. A doting tool was actually the first nail art item I ever owned and it was so much fun to play with and get comfortable doing nail art. And like everything else on this list - they are crazy affordable. You usually get more than one in a set - all with different sized-heads for varying your dots. This set comes with 5 dotting tools with head on either side and retails for $3.29 on *Amazon.

 

8. Clear Stamper & Scraping Card

Some people would tell you you are fine starting off with those crappy little stampers that come in beginner stamping kits and are all over eBay. I am not one of those people. There is nothing that will frystrate you more and turn you off from practicing and perfecting your stamping more than having a crappy stamper. When I first tried stamping I was so frustrated using the little stamper I had been given that I cried. Literally. I won't do that to you friends. Skip over the crap and go for the gold. A clear jelly stamper and plastic scraping card will save you buckets and buckets of tears of frustration. It will also cut out a significant portion of the learning curve of stamping. Oh how I wish these existed when I'd started. Straight lines? Perfect sight of placement of your image? Yasss... This set cost $6.99 on the Uber Chic Beauty site. Get it now. Thank me later. 

 

9. Fast-Dry Top Coat

If there is only one item you decide to purchase from this list today this should be the one. Seriously. A fast-dry top coat is a must have for nail art. Do you have time to wait an hour between each step of your nail art waiting for it to dry? If so I want your life. If you are like me and do not have said time then you will need this product. You will use it more than anything else on this list. And it's multi-purpose because you can use it for your regular mani as well. If you've been reading this blog awhile then you know who much I love KBShimmer Clearly on Top. It's the only top coat I use now (and trust me - I've tried em' all). It retails for $6 on the KBShimmer site and it will be $6 well spent. Unless of course you like waking up with wrinkles  on your nails. The nails that you spent two hours working on the night before. If that's your look then hey, man. No judgments. 

 

10. Nail Vinyls

I originally was going to add striping tape as the last item on this list and then I laughed and thought, "Who am I kidding? I don't use those anymore! Nail Vinyls are the shizz!" And they are. I stopped using striping tape some time ago and stepped into the wondrous magical world of nailvinyls. What are nail vinyls, you ask? They are basically design stencils made out of vinyl that you place onto your nails (once you have painted on a base coat and let it dry fully - hello Clearly on Top!) and paint over to create fantastic designs. I am currently rocking the above design on my nails. I've tried a few nail vinyl brands but Whats Up Nails is my favorite. The vinyls aren't flimsy but also aren't so thick that they don't lay down completely on the nail. This is also where those trusty makeup sponges come in handy - you use those to tap on your secondary color of choice over the vinyl to create your pattern. You don't want to do this with the brush from the polish bottle  - trust me. It's a PITA! This particular set retails for $3.75, but I highly encourage you to browse the vinyls section on the Whats Up Nails site. They have a ton of really cool patterns to choose from. 

And that's my list of must haves. Be sure to join my subscriber list to get your free download of this checklist. You can have it to refer to as you begin your Nail Art journey!

*this post includes affiliate links

Get Your Free Checklist!

Nail_art_arsenal_checklist

Join the Valiantly Varnished Tribe and be on your way to becoming a nail art ninja!

Powered by ConvertKit

 

 

 

 

4 On the Go Nail Care Essentials

Having healthy nails is an essential part of being a nail blogger. After all, your nails are your canvas. And if the canvas isn't properly prepped and taken care of, what you put on it won't matter all that much. I like to keep my on the go nail care routine simple - if it requires a bunch of stuff and a lot of steps it's not for me. I keep my list paired down to four essential items that keep my nails healthy and looking great with minimal fuss and effort and today I'm sharing them with you my lovely peeps!

 

Number 1

First up is a nail file I have been using for the past two months now (*sent to me courtesy of Aveniro). I had used crystal nail files before but the ones I used were on the cheap side and didn't work all that well for me. After two months of using this one however I am really impressed and happy with the results: crisp clean nail edges and no shredding or peeling, which is something that my naturally dry nails are prone to. Glass nail files last much longer than regular nail files, you can wash them and wipe them down and they will still perform. They are also much gentler on the nails. And you can use them on acrylic nails as well as natural nails. So while, yes, they are more expensive than the nail files you get from your local beauty supply they are well worth the investment. Aveniro doesn't sell directly to consumers but I recommend this one from OPI which I have heard great things about.

Number 2

Next up is a cuticle oil that I have been using for quite awhile now. I had stopped using it for awhile and was experimenting with other brands but they just didn't do the trick like CND Solar Oil. This is my go-to cuticle oil. I apply this throughout the day (especially after washing my hands) to keep my cuticles hydrated. I have been pretty lax about using cuticle remover every week when I do my manicures and this is what has saved my cuticles from looking awful. Cuticle oil is the holy grail of nail care. If you don't do anything else for your nails invest in cuticle oil and be diligent about using it. Your nails will thank you. 

 

Number 3

If cuticle oil is the holy grail of nail care then I would say that a good hand cream or lotion is it's partner in crime. You really do need both. Keeping your nails and the skin around it hydrated will protect against breaks and damage to the nails and nail beds. As I stated above, I have naturally dry nails which make them prone to breaks, so the one-two punch of cuticle oil and hand cream is important for me. I wold love to say that I have a must have go to hand cream, but well...I don't. I try lots of different ones and haven't found one that I absolutely can't live without. I have to be extra careful about what I use because I suffer from eczema and psoriasis and just generally have easily angered skin. I don't use anything with parabens (which are just bad in general), sulfates or fragrance. I generally use Dermasil because it's what I use on my body and it works well for me, but I recently ran out and grabbed this sample that I had laying around from an old Birchbox. It's called Skin Clinical Extreme Healing Repair Concentrate and it's formulated for severely dry, itchy and delicate skin. Which is my skin in a nutshell. I've been using it for about a week now and so far I really like it. It's not as creamy as I would normally like in a hand cream, but it lasts a decent amount of time and I don't feel like I have to constantly reapply it like I do sometimes with Dermasil or other creams. I looked online to get info on the cost of it and where you can purchase it and at $24.95 for 3 oz. it's on the pricey side. Will I purchase this once I run out? Probably not. I'm not sufficiently wowed by it to justify the price tag. So it will be back to Dermasil for me once I run out!

 

Number 4

And last but certainly not least is what I call my DefCon 5 item. This is for serious nail emergencies ONLY. There is a reason this nail glue is called Mach 5! I have used my fair share of nail glues over the years and Mach 5 by OPI is hands down my favorite. But I only use it when I absolutely need it. Because whoa this stuff dries fast! The bottle and nozzle are a bit cumbersome to use (which is why I managed to glue two of my fingers together the first time I used it!), but it gets the job done quickly. If you are at work and have a sudden and terrible nail break the last thing you want is to have to wait minutes for your nail glue to dry. This dries in about 10-15 seconds. I keep mine in a little plastic baggy in my makeup bag to protect my other items in case of leakage.

 

So what are some of your must have on the go nail care items? Let me know in the comments!

Follow

7 Reasons Why Your Nail Polish Chips

Happy Hump day everyone!  It's happened to us all: Your nails are freshly painted you are looking and feeling fly and fancy free and then boom! You look down and there's a chip. Today I will touch on the top 7 reasons for chips and how to prevent them from ruining your day and your manicure!

You Don't Use Base Coat

 Okay this one is pretty obvious. But - for those of you that are new to painting your nails this step is essential to achieving a long lasting paint job. You can't have a masterpiece if the canvas isn't properly prepared!

You Don't Use Top Coat

Again, goes without saying but... I'm saying it anyway. Base and top coats work in tandem to protect your nail polish from the everyday wear and tear your nails experience. If one of these is missing in action you can kiss that pretty mani buh-bye in no time flat. Not only does it protect your polish but it will make your nails look shiny and gorgeous and professionally done. 

Your Nails Are Not Clean When You Apply Polish

 This is important if your nails tend to hold on to oils and lotions. After applying your cuticle oil and/or lotion you want to take a cotton ball or cotton round and use either rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to remove any residue from the nail before applying your base coat. This gives your base coat a nice clean canvas and will prevent it from chipping- and thereby chipping the polish you apply over it.

Your Nails Are Dry

 I struggle with nails that tend to be dry and brittle. This not only can make your nails break easily but also makes it hard for manicures to last. The key is to moisturize. Now this may seem counter-intuitive to my instructions in number 5 and if you do not have dry nails - skip to number 3. It's important that after applying your oil/lotion that you allow it sink it and do not remove the excess with alcohol or acetone. All that will do is dehydrate your nails all over again and you're back to where you started. After about 5 minutes apply your base coat. This has been one of the few things that has worked for me over the years. I still struggle with the occasional chip because dry nails and polish are mortal enemies, but it has reduced the chipping significantly.

You Are Using The Wrong Base Coat

 I touched on this in more detail with my The Good The Bad and The Meh post about base coats. Base coats work differently depending on your chemistry and it may take some trial and error to find the one that works best for you. I have been using KBShimmer Basic Training base coat for well over a year now and it has worked well with my dry nails. Before that however I had tried practically every base coat under the sun. It really is trial and error, but once you find something that works stick with it.

You Don't Use Gloves While Cleaning

Nothing ruins a manicure faster than your nails being treated like brillo pads. Frequent exposure to water and harsh detergents and cleaning products not only can dry out your nails but it will almost certainly shorten the lifespan of your manicure. For cleaning up, doing dishes, etc. invest in a pair of rubber gloves. It's a simple thing that can make all the difference in whether your polish lasts a week or two days.

You Don't Wrap Your Tips When Painting Your Nails

Of all the above mentioned steps this is the one that has made the most difference in whether my manicure lasts a day or a week. "Wrapping" your tips basically means applying the polish to the tips of your nails. This is a really simple step. You can do this either before you apply your first coat or before you apply your second coat: Simply take a small bit (not too much because you don't want the tips to look bumpy or clumped with polish) of polish and apply it to the tips of each nail, making sure that the tips are completely covered with polish. You do the step again with your top coat once you've finished applying your coats of polish.. This effectively "seals" the polish on the tips of your nails which not only make your manicure look more polished and professional but will help prevent tip wear and chipping.