Friday, May 28, 2010

Tips and Tricks!

Here are a few interesting and fun things I have learned from many fellow nail bloggers, and from experience, that I thought I'd pass along. Feel free to add any that you especially like in the comments section so they can learn from your experience too, okay? Let's spread the wealth!!

Start Clean!
Use nail polish remover to clean any remaining oils, dirt or even hand lotion from the surface of your nails before polishing. Even tiny amounts that you cannot see will cause the polish to not stick of ruin the final result.

Precise Polishing
It takes some practice, but try placing the brush on your nail just ahead of the cuticle and gently press down on it, pushing it toward your cuticle line, just stopping short of touching it with polish. Then draw the brush toward the end of your nail, bending the brush over the nail end a little. This will allow you to get a nice clean line of polish along your cuticle and drastically reduce the amount of cleanup needed.

Polish Cleanup
As you paint your nails, you can use the edge of your fingernail (if you have any length to them) to clean up around the very edge of your nail while the polish is still wet. Simply press gently on the cuticle and wipe along the cuticle line, using a sweeping motion. Keep a pad moistened with removed handy so you can keep your 'cleaning' nail clean or you will just spread it around.

Another method that works even better is to use the beveled end of an orange stick moistened in remover to clean up little 'oops' spots. Wipe the stick tip on a paper towel or cotton ball moist with remover to keep it clean.

It takes a little practice, but soon you will find that it works so well, you won't know how you got along with out this little trick!

Preserve, Improve or even Renew Old Polishes
If you find that your polish is not spreading or flowing as well as it used to, add a few drops of lacquer thinner to it. Usually 5-10 drops is plenty to get the consistency back to where it does not glob or stick anymore. Do not use acetone or polish remover for thinning because these will not maintain the consistency of the original nail polish formula.
Also (and this is very important!), use remover to keep the top of the bottle clean after you use a polish. If not kept clean of old polish buildup, the cruddy old polish builds up and little hard pieces fall into the bottle when you open it the next time, resulting in lumps and specks on your nail when you apply it.

Nail Surface Prep
Use a four-way buffer to remove ridges and smooth the surface of your nails. You can go for a high shine, but that is not necessary if you are going to use polish anyway. In fact, the slightly roughened surface of your nails will adhere to polish better, making your manicure or pedicure last longer. Be careful not to dig too much into the nail surface with the buffer or ridges will result when the nail grows out.

Use A Good Basecoat
It's really tough to get a good, consistently smooth finish on your nails if you don't use a ridge-filling basecoat under your color. A few of you are lucky enough to have very smooth nails, but most of us don't, so the basecoat tends to smooth out imperfections, and it gives the polish something to stick to, not to mention that it protects your nails from staining.

Use Good Lighting
It' difficult to good a good job of polishing if you can't see what you are doing well. Use a good light when you do your nails. I like the folding tabletop full-spectrum lights that you can find at sewing or hobby shops. They are handy for other things too, they don't get in the way and they put light right where you want and need it. You will be able to see the spots where you missed and be able to fix them right away.

Roll Your Polishes - Don't Shake!
Shaking a bottle of polish fills it with little bubbles that take quite a while to settle out. Bubbles will result a in less than perfect finish. Instead, roll the bottle between your palms for 30 seconds or so before you use it to mix up the ingredients and give the polish more consistency.
By the way, store your bottles of polish standing up. This helps keep the tops clean and also reduces leakage and sticking of the cover.

Mix Polishes!
You can create or match any color by simply mixing colors. It is a little tricky to get this to work like you want at first, but as you experiment, you'll get it with practise.
Start with some older polishes that you may not care about as much to experiment with. Usually these bottle are partially full, so perfect for adding other colors to mix. Or you can empty older colors from their bottles and rinse the bottle with remover so you can start clean. Save the mixing balls though!!!
Some polishes are more opaque than others, so you can get different effects from playing with these.

Use A Good Topcoat
Glossy or matte, a topcoat will seal the polish and protect it from chipping and wear. Clear topcoat does not have pigment it in, and so it is stronger than colored polish, and it lasts longer. Many topcoats also speed up drying time, so another great advantage. I like to use Seche Vite because it glides on like butter and dries to the touch in seconds. And, it magnifies the color, so your nails will look like they are wet, even when dry.

Take Your Time
A good result takes time and there is no way to rush it (sorry folks...). Wait 5 - 10 minutes between coats so they can set before the next coat, or adding polish will simply pull and partially remove the first coat when you apply it.
Allowing the coats to dry will also speed up the curing time - the point where the polish no longer is susceptible to smudging. Multiple coats of relatively wet polish will stay soft for hours, exposing your mani or pedi to damage well after you thought they were dry and hard. Much as we like to paint our nails, it's no fun having to do a polish job over again.
I find it very relaxing to go through the entire process of cleaning, shaping, smoothing and polishing my nails. But the second time, it becomes 'work'.

Pay Compliments - Receive BIG Rewards!
Join nail blogs, get together with others who polish, compliment strangers on their nails and you'll be delighted with the shared energy and excitement it will generate. People who are into nail polish tend to be creative and expressive folks, and to get to know one or two new ones, just look for nails that look like the wearer really cares. Then pay them a genuine compliment and introduce yourself! The rest is easy - and fun! Why do you think I started this blog...?

Most of all, enjoy your nails! That is what it's all about.


  1. Really enjoyed reading this - some great tips, thanks!

  2. I always shake my polishes...really hard. I never just roll them. *hangs head in shame*

  3. Jake-
    I don't have outlook otherwise I would have emailed you( I know who doesnt have outlook lol)
    I found your blog through one of my nail blogs that I follow ( there are quite a few and I check them daily) But I just had to comment and say that I think you are brilliant. I love the idea that a man would be so self assured and proud to wear nail polish!
    My youngest brother thought one of my newer nail polish buys (ch flying dragon (neon)which is NOT neon but pretty anyways) was cool and wanted to wear it and mom said he could only wear it on his!I think the male polish movement is coming in!

    Cheers and best wishes always!
    or paintedbluestars

  4. Stephanie - thank you very much for your awesome comments! I really appreciate hearing what you think about it too. I also tried to email back you, but did not find an email address in your profile.

    That is too cool about your brother - start 'em young! That is pretty much how I got started with it too - by complimenting my sister on the color she was wearing. And she then suggested that I try it!
    Seriously, this really is taking off for guys and that is one reason why I get excited by it all. Hey, it's fun and you meet some of the coolest people because of the shared interest!

  5. I thought your point about waiting for polish to dry in between coats is a good one. Also, it is the reason why I like China Glaze a lot because it dries quickly. It also has great colors and seems to smooth out the nail surface appearance. I choose which brand to put on depending on how much time I have. I also like Sally Hansen Insta-dri polishes for my fingernails (but with their big brushes can't put it neatly on my toenails).