Saturday, August 8, 2015

Nail Care Basics - Let's Get Started

So you wanna know how to grow long, strong, healthy nails. Who can blame you?

First things first.  STOP GETTING ACRYLICS!!

Now that we've got that cleared up... Just know that no matter what you do, it's going to take time to take your nails from brittle and damaged to happy and healthy. Furthermore, some people just can't get those rock hard yet flexible and perfectly shaped nails that elicit envy... sorry, honesty here. BUT that doesn't mean you can't start taking steps to get your nails to their best possible state. (And be the envy of someone out there whose nails need help!) So don't give up! Have patience!


Well, kitten, ask yourself this... do you open cans, pick at stuff stuck on the counter or poke holes in tape to open boxes with your nails? Do you use harsh cleaners like Lysol or bleach or any sort of powdered cleanser without gloves? Do you go without any polish at all on a regular basis? Not even a clear base coat? Do you overuse strengthening nail polish? Do you eat an unbalanced diet and lack essential vitamins in your body? Do your hands (and consequentially your nails) spend a prolonged amount of time in water due to dishes, baths or swimming?

If you answered "yes" to any of these, you should rethink how you're treating your nails. All of these things are bad for your nails. Avoiding damage is the first step to healthy growth.

~ Use gloves when cleaning or gardening.
~ Nails are friends, not tools.
~ Polish gives you a protective layer. Wearing polish is actually beneficial to nail growth.
~ Unless its strengthening polish... Using it occasionally is great but using it too often can actually harden your nails and remove necessary flexibility in the nail to bend instead of break in case of impact.
~ You should eat a balanced diet for a lot of reasons, but your nails are a body byproduct and will benefit, too.
~Don't forget to replenish what excessive moisture removes! Which brings me to...


Well, I'm glad you asked! Mama's little secret. Cuticle oil. And more cuticle oil. In my opinion, not all cuticle oil is created equally. When looking for a winner, you should be looking for oils with pure, simple ingredients. My current favorite is made by Bliss Polish and is made of Argon Oil, Vitamin E Oil and whatever scented oil she has chosen for the month. This month's (August 2015) smelly good is Eucalyptus Spearmint. Not your cup of tea? Well wait for September and there will be another choice. She also does sales twice a year to offer up a variety of choices... but that's for another blog.

I used to only use cuticle oil every once in a while. I never really knew the effects it had. I mean, how could it really help... right? But here's the thing. Your nails grow from your nail beds. And just like everything else, when you build a good foundation, you can build bigger and better and stronger. So let's see. When to use cuticle oil:

~ After a shower/bath/swimming/washing dishes
~ After washing hands (at least a couple times a day)
~ Before bed
~ Every polish change
~ Before any activity that dries your skin out
~ After any activity that dries your skin out
~ When you want your fingers to smell like whatever scent you've chosen

Basically, a little here, a little there, a little everywhere. It doesn't take much (even though it sounds like a lot) but if your nails are damaged, this is especially important to prevent chips, cracks and hangnails. Plus, your skin will thank you.


I know that a lot of people use fingernail clippers to cut their nails. I hope you aren't one of those after reading this. To clarify, I'm not entirely against the use of clippers... I use them on my big toes about once every 6 weeks. But my fingernails? Maybe - MAYBE - once every 2 or so years and that's because I've gone and done all of those don't's from the beginning and broken off enough nails that it's wise to just start over. But for general purposes PUT DOWN THE CLIPPERS.

There's really never a good reason to CUT your fingernails. See, a couple things happen when you cut your nails. Typically, your nails bend as you cut halfway into the width of the nail.  You put undue pressure on the layers of your nail and it can split or crack. If your nails are already weak, or worse, too hard from using nail hardeners, you can accidentally crack your nail very easily. To avoid this, filing is your friend.

What kind of file, you ask? Well, I personally say don't get sucked in by the 4-in-1 flat buffer files. They don't do a terrible job, but they don't do a great job, either. A buffer block is a much better alternative because you have a larger surface while having a little give in the block. My go to for my natural nails are the pink 100/180 grit and the yellow fine grit, both of which are super cheap (around $1) and can be found at Sally Beauty. Emory boards are great for touch ups and it's always nice to have one in your purse or car or whatever in case you snag a nail somewhere.

How should you file? To keep your nails at a desired length, it's good to file them regularly. I touch mine up every 3-4 days or once a week at the least. My nails grow fast and I change my polish often so a good rule of thumb for me is to file with every polish change. When filing, you SHOULD file in one direction. I have a hard time doing that, but I'd be in the wrong not to tell you that. Start with the lower, coarser grit file and then smooth the edges with the finer file. File the nail depending on the shape you want your nails to be. Squoval tends to be the strongest, resisting breakage due to the flattened tip but semi-rounded edges. When trying to grow your nails out, don't file the sides in any more than needed to get them smooth. Filing the sides too much can lead to hangnails and cracks when your nail grows out.

Finally, when filing, I like to take a fine grit (not that "shine" buffer, that's too fine) and lightly buff the surface of my nail. Not a lot, just enough to rough up the surface a hair. This does a couple of things. It removes any residue and smooths ridges, but it also allows for a stronger bond for polish to grip. This is especially helpful if you find you have trouble getting nail polish to stay on your nails.


The last thing I'm going to say in this segment is that you should always wear some sort of protective barrier on your nails.  Even if it's just a clear base coat. It's a myth that nails need to "breathe". They're technically dead protein once they leave the cuticle soooooooo what do they need air for? Seriously, though. Think of it like a case for your phone. If you knock your nail against a counter or grab a door handle askew, in helps to have a little something giving an added layer of strength. It also helps keep those pesky chemicals and water off your precious digits.

So after you've buffed and filed, paint on a coat. (But remember, don't always use strengthening polish because it can harden your nails to the point of breaking - not bending - and be counterproductive.) My personal favorite clear coat is Orly Top 2 Bottom. It's a good all around "does it all" product for those of you who need somewhere to start.

And for heaven's sake... don't forget to finish with cuticle oil.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Hi, everyone!

As some of you know, I already have a blog (Tori Will Blog Again). Well, this one is a little different. You see, I have a passion for nail art. Apparently I've gotten pretty good at it in the last couple of years. I've been asked for a while now to start a blog or a YouTube "how to" channel or both, and I'm caving. Starting with *ta daaaaaa* this blog. (I haven't ruled out a YouTube channel, FYI)

My interest in nail art started when I was young. I was doing accent nails before they had a name. I'm not a nail tech, well, at least not yet, so the information that I will be posting in this particular blog will be based strictly on personal experience, opinion and, in all honesty, a lot of trial and error and internet research.

A little pertinent information about me:

I love indie polishes. This is extremely important because if you choose to follow this blog, the first real installment I plan to write is about the benefits of using indie polish and sharing the reasons why I am loyal to certain ones. I also love nail vinyls. I used to hand paint every nail art design, and I still enjoy breaking out the rudimental tools of the trade every now and then, but I will also be telling you all about my favorite (and least favorite) sites to find the best (and worst) nail vinyl so that you, too, can have everyone ask "are you SURE those aren't Jamberry?!?" Third... No. I don't use Jamberry. Maybe one day I'll hurt a lot of feelings and blog about why nail art is NOT the same as Jamberry and why anyone with a true passion for unique mani/pedis steers clear... but for the moment, suffice to say that I politely decline your party invitation.

Moving right along...

I have hundreds of nail polishes. Truthfully, I'd love nothing more to be able to be a swatcher for some of my favorite brands. Partly because they send you polishes before anyone else gets them and partly because I'd love for the nail community to see me as someone to aspire to. Okay, that sounds a little selfish... but in keeping with the honesty factor, I love nail art. And if there is a way for me to do what I love and some day be able to make a living from it as well... isn't that what they call "living the dream"?

I've learned a lot about a multitude of techniques and I have a wealth of tired and true information to share. Let's be honest... you can google techniques and blogs all day... but I hope that you at least give this one a shot. And if you have any specific techniques you'd like me to cover, please just ask! You can email me at

Help me live the dream, folks. And I'll help you get those fingers and toes looking magazine ready at a fraction of salon cost. ;)

Need a little convincing of my potential? Check me out on Instagram ---> tips_by_tori Click the follow button. You won't be sorry... I won't be sorry... It'll be great! Adventure (in nail art) awaits!