How to: Preparing your nails for nail polish

A little while ago, I realised it has been a long time since I did a post about how I prepare my nails for nail polish. Yet a lot has changed in my nail care routine since than last post. It mainly got a lot simpler 😛 One thing I have to say up front; I work as a postman on Saturdays, so my nails aren’t the perfect example of good looking nails. That’s due to damage, not to my routine 😉

Seeing as caring for the nails is very important when wanting to have pretty and healthy nails, and also because I too like learning about other people’s routines, I decided to make some photo’s of how I care for my nails. So here’s my 4 (or 5) step routine for preparing my nails for nail polish!

Step 1: Remover

This step is optional, and I forgot to take a photo of it. If you’re not wearing any nail polish to begin with, you can obviously skip this step 😉

Many people use cotton pads and nail polish remover, others use remover jars that a lot of places sell. I once watched a video tutorial by Beautygloss on how to make your own nail polish remover jar. Simply cut a cross shaped hole in a large sponge, put in a jar and add nail polish remover. Only the sponge and remover will have to be replaced every once in a while, which makes it a lot cheaper than to buy a new remover jar every few weeks.

Moreover, a remover jar is just a lot less of a hassle than cotton pads, so I always use my home made remover jar 🙂

Step 2: Filing

Decide beforehand what shape you want your nails to be. Mine are squoval, which is sort of square but with rounded edges. Some other shapes are square, oval, round and pointy. It’s simply a matter of choosing what suits you best.

There are also many types of files. Metal, cardboard and glass are the most common. Even though I do like to have a cardboard nail file in my bag (as they’re not sharp and can’t break), I prefer glass files. They’re also supposed to be best for your nails, as they seal the nail edge and decrease the risk of tearing. Also, I’ve heard that a good glass file can last for a lifetime, unless you drop it on a hard surface.

I can really recommend the glass files by Zenner. Mine has been doing it’s job perfectly for 1,5 years already, and still works as good as it did when I first bought it. And they’re also pretty cheap. Do be mindful of the fact that there are also brands who sell bad glass files that only have some texture sprayed upon the glass, which wears  off really fast. Good files, such as the ones by Zenner, don’t wear.

Step 3: Buffing

If your nails (like mine) have damage on them, it’s useful to carefully buff them on top. For that, it’s best to use a buffing block. Those have four sides, each with a different level of roughness. They’re supposed to be way more gentle than regular files, as they only have to make the surface of the nail more even.

Do be careful not to buff too much, only do it when necessary. Otherwise, the nail will get thinner and has a larger risk of breaking.

Step 4: Caring

Especially when nails get polished a lot, they can use some care. Same goes for the cuticles. What you use for that is a matter of preference. I know a lot of people really love Lemony Flutter by Lush. I did try that too, but it made my cuticles strangely hard if I used it regularly, so I think it might be too caring for me.

Nowadays, I use coconut oil for it. Which I also use as make-up remover, occasional skincare and to make pancakes, so I always have it lying around anyway 😛

To give whatever product used the needed time to do its job, I gently rub it onto each nail and cuticle and then leave it there for a few minutes. Then I just rub it off with my hands. If you’re using a thicker product or something that doesn’t sink into the skin that much, I’d recommend washing your hands. Otherwise, the nail polish might have trouble sticking to your nails later.

Step 3: Base coat

The last step certainly isn’t the least important; applying a base coat. It helps to strengthen the nail and lessens the risk of staining. Some (bright) nail polishes tend to leave stains on the nails. And even though some even do that right through a base coat, using one does decrease the risk of staining.

What I find the most important goal of a base coat, is making the nail a bit smoother (due to the damage on my nails). Then the eventual manicure will end up looking nicer. Also, a base coat helps the nail polish to stick to the nail better, so the mani will last longer. I use the Studio Nails base by Essence, but most nail polish brands have one.

So, that’s my routine. All in all, it takes about fifteen minutes, which includes the time I give the coconut oil to do its job. And it does keep my nails as healthy and good looking as possible. What works for one person might not work for the other, but you can easily build your own routine around this all, using products and methods that your nails prefer.

Nails can always break, of course. That’s simply impossible to always prevent. But a good nail care routine really helps a lot!

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