Your Guide to Nails

This is your guide to your nails; a few things that you should know about your nails. I’m going to tell you how to do a mini manicure, how to lighten your nails, what a base coat is for, how to avoid bubbles, and a few random facts.

Lets start with your random facts.

Fingernails grow from your nail  matrix, which is behind your cuticle and under the skin. If you damage this area your nails may grow back deformed, dark, and unsightly. Your nails are made up of a hard protein substance called keratin, which is the same thing that makes up your hair – hair is soft keratin and nails are hard keratin.

Your nails grow about 1/10th of an inch a month, and to grow a complete nail from cuticle to fingertip would take the majority of a year.

Nails are very porous, ten times more than your skin to be exact. This means that they absorb a lot so drowning your nails in polish constantly is obviously not good for them. They can easily become damaged due to chemicals.

As you age your fingernails will become thinner, this is natural. Your toenails, on the other hand, will become very thick.

When you get white spots on your nails (this is called leukonychia and is pretty common) it is commonly believed to be a deficiency of some sort, however it is actually normally due to injury. A small air bubble will form in between the nail bed and nail face that will create the white color. It will take a while for these to grow out but they will eventually.

Over time your nails will begin to yellow because of the lack of oxygen we allow our nails to receive. The darker the colors you apply to your nails the darker the yellow stain will be. Reds are the absolute worst for staining nails, just saying. So how do you stop it? I’ll give you a few different tips.

First off, you should know by now that lemon has  many lightening properties to it. Rub the fruit of the lemon directly on your nails. You won’t notice a ton the first day or two, but over a few days it will begin to really brighten your nails.

Next you could try making a paste from lemon juice and baking soda. Apply the paste to your nails and scrub with an old toothbrush or a nail brush if you have one. Both ingredients are known for lightening and shining, so working together as an abrasive is a fantastic idea. This will most likely work a bit better than using just lemon as you will be scrubbing harder and you have the baking soda mixed in as a boost. This should lighten your nails within a few days.

Now that your nails are lighter, lets get on with our mini mani!

The first thing you’re going to want to do is shape your nail. With fingernails there are a few different shapes you could try; oval, round, square and squoval (a squared off oval..). The strongest nail shape is square which you could achieve by filing straight across the nail. For a squoval look make your nails squared then round off the edges a bit. For oval and round you just have to round the edges and make the middle rounded as well. Make sure when filing nails to never see-saw back and forth, but rather file from the outer edge of the nail to the center. This will prevent splitting of the nail fibers which causes brittle nails.

Next you’re going to want to soften your cuticles. Soak your hands in a small bowl with hand soap and bath salts. If you don’t have bath salts then that’s alright, it is just to help with the scent and to help soften your skin. You’re going to want to soak for about 5 minutes. Not only will this soften the cuticle but it will also bring out any skirts that may have stayed attached while filing nails (skirts are very thin bits of nail that will come out from underneath the free edge after soaking. You can remove them by either filing directly under the nail with the soft side of your file or the coarse part of your buffer, or you could clip them off.)

After you soak your nails you’re going to want to remove your excess cuticle. If you have a cuticle remover that is perfect – you could pick one up at most drug stores. Apply the cuticle remover as directed and push back cuticles with a cuticle pusher – metal, wood or plastic. Rinse your fingers off afterwords to remove leftover cuticle remover. If you don’t have access to a cuticle remover then push your cuticles back. If you have a lot of split or excess cuticle it won’t be too tough to clip so grab yourself some cuticle nippers or a small pair of clean, nail scissors and VERY CAREFULLY cut the extra cuticle off. This may take a while you have to be patient.

Once you’re done with your cuticles you’re going to want to moisturize the cuticle area by applying a cuticle oil or a nice hand moisturizer. SpaRitual has cuti-cocktail pens which have a pusher on one end and a brush on the other which easily distributes cuticle oils. OPI has a product called Avoplex cuticle oil to go which is a small squishy tube with a brush on the end that also distributes oil with ease. Both are very nice products and go for under $20. These will last you a good amount of time if you use them properly – you don’t need to soak your hands in the oil, just a thin layer of oil along the cuticle. This is an important step because it will help keep your cuticles from splitting and bleeding and looking gross.

Now it’s time to polish. Make sure to do this about 5 minutes after applying a cuticle oil. Neutralize the nail by rubbing over the nail with nail polish remover – do a very good job of this so that your polish goes on smoothly and when it is dried it doesn’t peel straight off. Get all the little corners and everything. To avoid bubbles you want to make sure there’s no oils on the nail – it will cause bubbles and peeling – and make sure not to shake your polish bottle but roll them in between your hands. Make sure to apply only thin layers; the thin layer doesn’t look so nice the first coat but it will help to prevent bubbling and peeling.

First apply a base coat – there are some sources saying that a base coat is pointless, get that idea out of your head. A base coat protects the nail from intense staining; your nails still might stain a bit but not near as bad as if you don’t have a base coat. It will also help the polish to adhere to the nail to keep your polish lasting longer. So DO apply a  base coat.

Next apply your two coats of polish, to properly polish read my post on How to properly polish your nails.

Lastly you’re going to want to finish off with your top coat. A top coat adds a bit of extra shine and helps the polish to look smooth and clean. It will make the nails appear streak-less and help keep the polish on.

Well I hope you give your nails a little love!




2 thoughts on “Your Guide to Nails

    • I would have to see it to say for sure what it would be, however in my experience darkness underneath nails usually isn’t a wonderful thing.
      It could be a bruising under your nails (have you bumped them or bashed them on something?)
      Do they have an odor to them? Or discoloration to the nail? Typically off-coloring in a nail means fungal infection, so you may want to see a doctor or go speak to an esthetician in your area about it to get it taken care of!

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