Saturday, 25 September 2010


The hand-shake is a universal greeting and our nails are one of the first things that people notice about us. Today I will explain exactly how to care for your nails and I'll also share with you some of the best products on the market.

For those of you lucky enough to have the budget for regular manicures and pedicures (the ideal being monthly full-on services and a weekly file/polish change). The Nail Station on York Street (near Baker Street tube station) is great. Do be careful if your nail technician tries to use metal tools, particularly cuticle clippers. I find these can sometimes make my delicate nail beds bleed!! Also take note of or ask about their tool-cleaning methods - some salons re-use soaking water. Yuck! I am not a fan of Nails Inc, but they do have handy in-store nail bars at Harvey Nichols, Topshop etc. 

My preferred nail polish brands are OPI and Essie. I also have a growing collection of Chanel nail enamels for those uber-trendy colours ('Jade Green', 'Jade Pink', 'Lotus Red' and 'Trapeze' - but this season is all about their Khaki collection). Again, I have plenty of Nails Inc polishes knocking about but am not that fussed by them - they're not thick enough and chip quickly. I also find that the supposed treatments from Nails Inc, such as their 'Brixton' nail strengthener base coat did not improve my nail condition at all. 

The At-home Manicure

I find that the squoval shape (a square shape, with slightly rounded edges) helps to keep nails strong and makes them less likely to chip or break. NEVER file your nails with a sea-saw motion, always use long sweeping motions from the outer-edge towards the centre, doing one side followed by the other. 

Crystal files have longevity but I prefer standard emery boards

Remove Cuticles

Gently rub a cuticle cream into your cutiles, then soak them in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. I like to watch t.v. while I do my manicure, to pass the time during soaking/ drying. 

Pat them dry and then use a cuticle tool to push back your cuticles. I have a set from M&S years ago that includes a fork-shaped tool that I can remove the dead skin on my nail bed with (nice). However, I am yet to see another one in a store or salon (sorry). Most manicure sets come with a cuticle hoof that you can use, though. If you really want to go the whole hog, M&S do a great manicure set that includes the electrical brushes beauty technicians use! I was lucky enough to be given one for Christmas in my teens (pictured). It even features a fan to dry your newly-painted nails!


It's a good idea to get a four-sided buffing file Use the ridge-remover (usually labelled) to smooth the surface, then buff for shine if you don't want to use polish. 

Next, you should wash your hands and then you're ready to paint! NB you should also wash your hands whenever you have used nail varnish remover. 


Always use a base coat, paint two coats of colour then a top coat. I am currently using Sally Hansen's base & top coat all-in-one but OPI do fantastic ones. Wait a while in between each, so that you don't goof up your artwork. Wait as long as possible after you're done, which can be up to 20 minutes to ensure you don't smudge the polish. 
When they're dry enough - this should be obvious from their appearance but you can gently test by pressing one pinky on the other - point your hand down and squirt/ brush one drop of nail oil onto the base of each nail bed. I use Essie's Apricot Oil but have heard great things about Creative Nail Design's Solar Oil.

AB x

P.S. The colours I am sporting in the pictures are (from the top): Revlon's Lilac Pastelle; OPI Done Out in Deco (please excuse my appalling cuticles in this one); and OPI Absolutely Alice (Alice in Wonderland collection).

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