Tough as nails

tough as nails

Whoever made up that expression clearly didn’t have my nails.  They tend to break and bend and tear and generally cause me pain.  It has always amazed me the amount of pain nails and hangnails can cause considering the size of the injury.  In general it feels like this:

lion roar

Because my nails are always in a state of distress I don’t really take care of them, let alone ever paint them… which when I thought about it, probably ends up doing more harm than good.  So after a trip (or two) to the drugstore to get supplies and a google search, here are the instructions on how to give yourself a manicure.

Here’s How:

  1. Start by removing your old nail polish. You can choose an acetone-free polish remover if you have a light shade or an acetone remover for darker shades (acetones can be drying to the nails). To get rid of polish stuck in the corners of nails, use an orangewood stick with the end covered in cotton and dipped in nail polish remover.

I didn’t have any nail polish on, but I did have to look up what an “orangewood” stick was.  Turns out they look like tiny bamboo torture devices:

orangewood-ends2.)  Clip your nails straight across to the length you prefer, then file nails in one direction so the corners are slightly rounded. Finish off by filing with the fine-grade side. To ensure your nails are the same length after filing, line each nail up with its counterpart.  The most flattering nail shape is not long or short or square, it’s “squoval” — not quite square and not quite oval. Get the look yourself by filing nails into a shape that mirrors the curve of your nail base.

This is already more that I have ever done… which is perhaps the root of my issues with my nails breaking and splitting.  Also I like the word “squoval”.

3.)  Apply cuticle remover to cuticles. You can skip this step if you don’t have cuticle remover or don’t want to bother with it. I don’t blame you.

Cuticle removers look like this:

cuticle remover

I really wanted to skip this step, but there was one in the kit so I tried it…

4.)  It’s important to soak nails before pushing back your cuticles. Prepare a nail soak by placing a few drops of jojoba or almond oil (in a pinch, any oils will do) in a bowl of warm water. Soak your hands for 5 minutes. Pat dry.

Glad I kept reading before cutting… oh wait there is even more below.  Why isn’t this all listed in one step?

5.)  Now onto the cuticle prep. Twist a piece of water-moistened cotton onto the end of an orangewood stick and gently push back your cuticles. Unless you’re a pro at it, I don’t recommend cutting the cuticles because you risk nicking your skin (been there, done that and it’s not fun). Use the orangewood stick to clean under each nail.

I did not cut myself, but I didn’t really see the point cutting the cuticles… I probably won’t bother again.  

6.)  Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and clean nails. This preps your nails for the polish. You want to have as clean a surface as possible before applying polish.

Acetone really drys out my nails, the skin around my nails and even my finger tips. I haven’t even painted my nails yet and I am remembering my I don’t do this often!

7.)  Starting with the pinky finger, apply a thin base coat to all 10 fingers. A base coat protects your nails from the polish.

What… you need a base coat and a polish?  What are we painting a room here, come on…ugh brb gotta go back to the drugstore…

8.)  Now onto the fun part: the polish! When painting nails, the thinner the coat, the better. Try wiping one side of the brush on the bottle, then use the other side to paint nails. For best results, apply polish in 3 strokes: Down the center, down one side and then down the other.

Done and done… although I am clearly not as ambidextrous as I hoped.

9.)  Wait 2 minutes, then apply a second coat of polish. Prevent chips by brushing the polish over the edge and wrapping the polish under the nail.

Interesting… it sure makes my fingertips colorful 🙂

10.)  Clean up any errant polish with an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton and moistened with polish remover.

Thanks orangewood stick, it’s nice to see you have a kinder side.

11.)  Finish with a clear top coat. Let nails dry at least 20 minutes.

You’re lucky my newly bought base coat is also a top coat.


Voila!  Clean, cared for nails all in under 30 mins, and most of that was literally watching paint dry 🙂


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