At Home Nail Care 101: Everyone is doing it

Economy is tough for pretty much everyone.  As someone who used to get her nails done at a salon for about 10+ years; nowadays that seems more like a think-twice splurge than a bi-weekly "I deserve it" luxury.  Gladly, with the vast array of brands with products catered to at-home nail care and at very affordable prices, you can have pretty nails all year long; not only on special occasions.

I'm not a trained manicurist, but while blogging I discovered a whole world of articles, videos and photo tutorials that have helped me take care of my nails and hopefully after reading this, you will be inspired too. :)

Prep & Prime
Before painting your nails, you want them (and your hands) in the best shape possible.

Hand cream:
Keeping them moisturized and soft will make your manicure stand out even more.  There is no need to spend a fortune.  There are a lot of good and inexpensive hand creams in the market, there are even some specialized in helping moisture and nourish your nails and cuticles.  Choose a cream depending on your necessities   If you are outdoors a lot, consider a hand cream with SPF.  If you are going through menopause or suffering from hypothyroidism  you might be having issues with itchy / dry skin; in this case a cream with coconut oil, cucumber extract, Shea Butter, lavender or oatmeal will be great.  This step is easy because for most of us is part of our daily routine.
If on daily basis you use harsh chemicals or have to get your hands constantly in water; using gloves will reduce the damage to your nails and hands.

Clipping, filing and cutting

Cuticles: Unless you are a trained tech, don't cut your cuticles.  You could end up with a deep cut and an infection could occur; this is specially dangerous for diabetics.  Instead, use a cuticle remover cream (Sally Hansen has really good ones) or just submerge your hands in warm water for a couple minutes and then push them back with a soft cuticle pusher - mine are from Walgreens and cost less than a dollar! Other products used to maintain cuticles: cuticle oil or balms.

For your feet: You can do pretty much the same to remove cuticles and calluses.  If you don't own a foot spa, just fill a plastic tub with warm water, add your favorite liquid soap, add 1 or 2 cups of vinegar or lemon juice and soak your feet for a while.  Its acidity will soften dead skin and will be easier to remove.  Use a pumice stone to remove dead skin.  After that you could use a foot scrub to make skin feel even smoother.

Nail Files:  When purchasing nail files, ask or choose the ones with a fine-grit (240/180 grit); designed for natural nails.  Coarse grit files are for artificial nails because their material is really tough.  Since natural nails are softer and delicate, using a file with a coarse-grit grade or a metallic one with damage them.

Filing: Many techs recommend to file your nails from the edges to the center and in one direction, not in a saw motion that could make them prone to peeling.

Buffing:  Buffing is good, but in moderation. Buffing will help getting rid of ridges, imperfections and if you don't want to wear nail polish at all, using a 4-way buffer you will have natural shiny nails.

Base Coat
Base Coats protect you nails against daily wear and if you decide to paint them, helps like a bonding agent between your nail and the polish, also helps with a smooth application.
There are tons of base coats in the market and I'm sure you could find something that might look like it was designed specially for you!  Whether your concern is making them stronger, getting rid of yellow stains, ridges, make them grow faster or stop peeling or biting  there is a base coat for that.  Again, Sally Hansen has a wide array of product for this matter.

Top Coat
Top Coat ads extra shine to your manicure and helps it last longer.  Again, as base coats; there are many types and brands of top coats.  You can choose the one you like based on their efficiency, price or if the product offers any other extra benefits, like strengthening.

NOTE: sometimes, nail peeling isn't just due to improper care.  It could be attributed to factors like: changes in weather or climate, nail infections,  medications, dietary problems or a disease.  I have peeling issues due to dietary & thyroid issues.  If you try an over the counter product for peeling nails and you don't see improvement, I recommend to consult your physician.

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