Ever since I was a kid, I used to bite my nails. Luckily I have pretty large nail beds. For that I suppose I need to thank my mother's genetics. So my nails always looked... ummm..... sort of ok. Just extremely short and uneven. But as I grew they became weak and fragile. So fragile that I could loose a nail by a paper cut.
Quite a few years ago (can I still say "few" about 20 or so years?) I discovered the acrylic nails and for a while I had my nails built with acrylic powder in a salon. But I became allergic to it and after a couple of weeks of swollen and itchy fingers, I got rid of them. Several years ago I discovered a new thing: the UV gel. And so far I consider it a life saver of sort. Since I was asked so many times how I keep my nails long the way they are, I've decided to tell you my secret. I wrote it as a sort of tutorial, mostly because I felt awkward saying "I.... I.... I..." all the time. LOL. Aleta - this one's for you ♥ And do note that this is a long post filled with lot's of talking!
So let me share with you a little of my own routine of nail care.
|The products I use. I'll explain more later but I thought this was a pretty picture ;-)|
First, you should know I'm a lazy person. By this you have to understand that I hardly do anything with my hands around the house. I don't do dishes (I have a disher machine), I don't clean (I have a cleaning lady), I don't do hand laundry (If I learn that a garmet requires hand washing - it goes straight to charity). Also, if I had to do this process daily or even once a week, I would probably give it up a long time ago. So I do that once in 3-4 weeks, depending on my mood. I suppose the more often you do this, the better it looks. And of course it also depends on how fast your nails grow. But usually once every 2-4 weeks is enough. (the funny thing is - I change my nail polish daily. Go figure...)
Second, I love the Nfu-Oh products. I think they are the best and the longest lasting, although they are pretty expensive. I used Konad before and didn't like it and I know that OPI are considered good but I have some personal unknown issue with OPI products. There are other companies too so if you ever decide to give it a try, you have plenty to choose from. The process is basically the same. Naturally, it begins with removing the old layer of gel, but I will start with placing it, assuming you haven't done this before. It will be easier for me to explain this way.
and Third, do one hand at the time. Finish the entire process (from cuticles to top coat) on one hand before starting the other. This way you will have all the materials dry to the right level to still work properly. Besides, it's so much more comfortable...
Oh, the important thing is - you will need to have a UV or LED machine. I have a simple UV machine that I got for a little less then $30 on eBay and it is perfectly enough.
|My little UV light machine|
|Nfu-Oh Cuticle Remover|
|Cuticle scrapper and pusher|
|Nfu-Oh Bond Primer|
|Nfu-Oh Gel Base Coat|
Again - wipe your brush very good on the side of your bottle and apply a very thin layer to your nails. Wrap the top coat around the tip too. Then put your hand under the UV lamp for 2 minutes. Under the LED light, you cut all the mentioned times in half, both for any color you decided to use - and for the top coat.
You're almost done! All you need to do now is naturalize the gel. If you touch your nails now (don't. Just trust me ;-)) you will feel that everything is sticky and somewhat liquid. Apply some 70% alcohol (I use those AlcoGel hand Sanitizers - those gels that you can use to wash your hands without soap or water, you know those?) to a paper towel and clean each nail thoroughly with it. Voile! You're done.
Now you can apply your favorite nail polish, do some nail art or whatever. The only thing you have to keep in mind is - do not use acetone over the gel-nails. If you want to change your polish, use a remover that does not contain acetone. You can see that my nail is slight thicker then a normal nail but not enough to look fake. So far - its been holding on nicely. I better shut up now. No need to give the devils any excuse ;-)
Btw - I am wearing Zoya Savita topped with Nfu-Oh 51. Well, this is all about Nfu-Oh, isn't it? LOL
Are you tired yet? I know I am. But I better tell you how to take this off properly. This is one important tip: when you want to renew it - remove the old layer. Don't layer more over it or you'll have thick nails.
So to remove this, all you have to do is use the foil method! Well, you better start with a very sandy file. File the entire shiny layer of your nail. This shiny layer is what protects your nail so you need to get rid of it before you can remove the gel. Don't worry, you will not file your own nail. Only make sure you get rid of the shiny area.
Next, have a 100% pure acetone, some cotton pads, some foil paper and your UV lamp. Dip the cotton in the acetone. Be very generous. make sure you have a nice amount of acetone on the cotton, wrap your nail with it and wrap it all with foil. In this stage do not use any other polish remover. Only 100% pure acetone because this is what melts the gel. Besides, if you like to wear glitter, you're in a very familiar territory here ;-) Just remember that for this stage you really need the foil. You can't get away without it because you will have to place your hand in the UV lamp and without the foil - the cotton will dry up and won't melt your gel.
So now, the last tweak is - with the foil on, stick your hand under the UV lamp to 4 minutes. (Led users - cut the times in half, remember?) After 4 minutes, when you take the foil and cotton off, most of the gel will be on the cotton. But you will still have lot's on your nail. So grab the metal scrapper (well, use the "pusher" side this time) and gently push the gel off your nail, from the cuticles and onward.
Usually it peels off real easy. If you do have so stubborn gel - dip your finger in pure acetone for a few seconds then repeat the cotton + foil + lamp for 2 more minutes. Then wash your hands and... put on the new coat and be protected for the next 3 weeks :-D
Wow, i'm done! Who would believe...
I do have one last tip though: because these materials are so expensive (evil-bay does help a little on this, but not much) you might want to try it first in a salon. Do it just once see how you feel about it, see how it holds on your nails before you spend a lot of money. BUT - make sure the lady in the salon does NOT file your nail! There is no need in removing any layer off your nail to have it hold nicely. Maybe the first time you do it, it will hold a little less then the normal, but still it has nothing to do with filing your nails.
Ok I need some sleep now, but I will try to think if I have any more tips and tricks on that.
And now that you know my deepest secret, I just might have to kill you ;-)