How To

How To Achieve Any Nail Shape

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Oval

Best for: Strong nails and wide nail beds as this shape makes them appear narrower.

The shape: Straight sides with a rounded tip.

Pros: A flattering, delicate and elegant shape that adds the appearance of length to the nail.

Cons: This shape has a weaker structure, as the sides are slightly filed away.

How to achieve: Hold the file flat against the side edge of the nail and gently file in one direction (toward the tip), until the sides are even and straight. File using a curving motion, evenly and smoothly from nail end to nail end. Check the shape from both the front and back to ensure that it is even.

Almond

Best for: Very long nails.

The shape: Tapered sides that end with a highly rounded tip.

Pros: A very flattering shape for longer nails as it gives a beautiful tapered look that makes nails look delicate and narrower.

Cons: Unless your nails are super strong, you will need to reinforce this chosen shape with gel or acrylic, as it is very weak due to the sides being filed away.

How to achieve: File the sides of the nail inwards to taper the nail on both sides. Next soften the edges of the nails by using an arc shape, gently filing in one full direction until the tip is nicely rounded and even.

Round

Best for: Men and women who like to keep their nails shorter.

The shape: A rounded nail shape that follows the natural curve.

Pros: Makes wide nail beds appear thinner,a clean look and a strong nail shape.

Cons: A great shape for shorter nails but does not look good on longer nails.

How to achieve: File the sides of the nails straight in one direction gently. Now gently going in one direction with the file, file in a swooping arc following your natural nail curve to shape and soften the edges.

Square

Best for: Ideal for bigger nail beds, not recommended for smaller nail beds as the nails will appear short and wide.

The shape: The sides of the nail are straight and the tip is flat, appearing square in shape. Classic French.

Pros: The strongest of the nail shapes.

Cons: The sharp corners can snag and scratch things, not ideal if you wear contacts, are around children or work with material.

How to achieve: File the sides straight in one direction (towards the tip), make sure they are even and straight from front and back of hand. File along the tip straight in one direction. The shape should be a perfect square without tapering in or flaring out.

Squoval

Best for: Most popular shape, as it flatters any nail bed and length.

The shape: Straight sides and straight top but the corners are rounded off.

Pros: Combined strength of a square and the elegance of an oval shape.

Cons: The shape is not to every ones liking.

How to achieve: File the sides straight, going gently in one direction. file the tip straight across in one direction. Then gently soften both edges on the nail edges so they are rounded off.

Ballerina/ Coffin Nails

Best for: Long nails with both wide and narrow nail beds.

The Shape: Tapering in at both sides of the nail, coming to a small flat tip.

Pros: Look neat and well shaped, makes nails appear longer and is a great shape for nail designs.

Cons: This shape needs some reinforcement from gel or acrylic. Filing the side of the nail away will weaken the nail.

How to achieve: File gently in one direction (towards the tip), in a slanted or tapered manner at each side of the nail. Ensure both sides are even from the front of the hand and back. Gently file the flat tip to desired width evenly. The more you file the wider the tip will look.

Stiletto

Best for: Acrylic or gel nails.

The shape: Tapered sides at both sides ending in a sharp point.

Pros: This extreme look can slenderize and elongate the fingers. It looks unique and can hold amazing nail art looks.

Cons: The weakest of all the shapes, easy to snag and can scratch.

How to achieve: Ideally, having them done with acrylic at a nail salon. These will not last very long on natural nails, so it is not advisable.

Conclusion:

If your nails are wide try a squoval, narrow go for a square to strengthen and widen. Short nails should aim for rounded and once grown out try a different shape that suits your nails.

I have not included every shape for nails, as there is many available. These are just the most common, who they are best suited for, the pros and cons and how to achieve them. I hope that this has helped in your nail journey and you can enjoy the nails that you desire.

 

 

 

How To Grow Strong Nails

strong nails

Without correct care and the right products, I have very thin and fragile nails. Whilst growing my problems include, peeling, cracks at the sides of the nails and breaks.

Over the years I have been doing nails I have tried a lot of products, vitamins, treatments and any home remedy that I happened across. Some of these worked incredibly well and still do today; others made my nails worse, made very little difference, or was a waste of time and money by doing nothing at all.

I’m sharing my knowledge of what causes the problem of weak nails and what actually works to strengthen the nails, so you do not make the same mistakes I have made or waste your hard earned money.

What causes weak, peeling, splitting or breaking nails?

There are a huge amount of causes that can make your nails weak, in my experience of doing nails the most common are water, harsh chemicals, detergents, acetone in nail polish remover, peeling chipped nail polish off the nail bed, nail biting and glue on/ stick on false nails. Some nail problems can be due to a medical condition, so it is always worth asking your doctor on your next visit.

What can I do to improve the health of my nails?

There are many things you can do to improve the condition of your nails and to help strengthen them. To make it easy to follow I have broken it up into steps that are simple, address each issue and give recommendations on products that work to help that problem.

  1. Treat from inside out. Try a biotin supplement and vitamins to aid the overall health, strength and thickness of the nails. Drink plenty of water daily, this helps hydrate the nails – removing the issue of dryness and brittleness. perfectil originalI personally use ‘Perfectil Original’ from Vitabiotics. The ingredients include a range of vitamins as well as biotin. Over three months I noticed a difference in the thickness of my nails, the longer I used them the thicker and stronger my nails became.
  2. Patience. If your nails are very thin and fragile, perhaps due to the removal of extensions or gel polish. It will take time to grow out the damaged nail. Healthy nails do not grow over night. Don’t give up, be patient. You will see the results of the steps you have done to improve the condition of your nails.
  3. Protection is the best defense. When dealing with water, harsh chemicals, detergents etc – wear rubber gloves. If you are decorating or gardening, make sure to wear a pair of thick gardening gloves. Avoid press on false nails or glue on false nails. Try to minimise the use of nail polish remover if possible.
  4. Nails are not tools. Scrapping, peeling labels, opening and unfastening items are all things that can easily damage or break a nail. You may not realise you do this, but for strong nails you must stop using your nails as tools. Have something like a key ring tool. When you have the correct tools at hand, you tend to reach for them first; rather than your nails being the first option. ictorinox managerI use a ‘Victorinox manager’, which I have on my key ring, it does everything! It has a pair of tweezers, a pair of scissors, a pen, a knife, a file, a bottle/ can opener, screwdrivers and much more.
  5. Begin with a strong base. Filing the nail in a sawing motion with a rough emery board will lead to small tears being made along the edge of the nails, this causes splitting, tearing and eventually breaks. Try using a glass – ideally a crystal nail file and going slowly and gently in one direction across the nail, leaving you with a smooth, sealed edge. A basic round shape is easier to grow out as there is no corners to snag on anything. ldenny fileopi fileI use a couple of files; I use a ‘OPI’ crystal file and ‘Leighton Denny’ crystal file. I pop them everywhere, so if I get a snag I can deal with it immediately – that way I am not tempted to pick at it and make it worse.
  6. Care for all parts of the nail. This includes cuticles, push back cuticles with a hoof stick or orange stick while they are soft – do not cut them. Apply a cuticle cream, oil or lotion everyday and massage into the nail and cuticle for a few minutes; this helps the circulation which helps growth, cares for dry, brittle, flaky nails and give an overall healthy looking appearance to the nails. opi avoplexlush lemony flutterI personally use ‘OPI Avoplex’ several times a day, at night before bed I like to give the nails and cuticles a good massage with ‘Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter’.
  7. Hydrated nails = Healthy nails. Dehydrated nails cause dryness and brittleness, not the best for healthy strong nails. Moisture needs to be put back into the nail to hydrate and bond nail layers together. Hydrating as much as possible throughout the day combats this issue, apply rich hand lotions – the best are usually thick and often greasy. opi avojuicela sourceWhat I use personally depends on what is closest to me at the time but they will usually be one of two favourites. I love ‘OPI Avojuice’ and ‘Crabtree and Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy’.
  8. Help Strengthen. Several treatments are on the market today. A lot of these products are the work of snake oil salesman, claiming to do miracles for the nails but delivering nothing. Healthy nails are all down to a lot of the steps above, helping the nail from the inside out and care. What is a fantastic way to help you nails is applying a top coat. This will give the surface an armour that will protect the nail from chips, water etc. Most are inexpensive and readily available. opi top coatI use ‘OPI Top Coat’, it dries fast, it’s strong, it’s self leveling and a bottle lasts for a long time so value for money.

Conclusion: Everyone wants beautiful, strong, healthy nails. To achieve this we do have to do a little work and upkeep to maintain them. With the steps given hopefully you will now know how to do this easily without even thinking about it, it will become a nail routine as it did for me.

  • Biotin/ Vitamin supplements help strengthen and thicken the nails.
  • Be patient. Nails need time to grow healthy.
  • Wear rubber/ gardening gloves when doing manual or heavy jobs and when dealing with water or chemicals.
  • Do not use your nails as tools. Use the correct tool for that job and save your nails.
  • File gently in one direction, using a crystal file.
  • Use cuticle oil or butter daily to nourish.
  • Hydrate the nails several time a day using a good, thick hand lotion.
  • Apply a clear top coat to protect and strengthen the natural nail.

I hope that these will help you and your nails be the best they can be.

 

Paint Nails Like A Pro!

Paint Like A Pro

Everyone loves the feeling of a salon fresh, perfect manicure. However, when we try to achieve the same at home ourselves it can sometimes tend to look a little less than perfect. I have put together a step by step guide on how to achieve the same results as you would get in a salon, having you on your way to painting like a pro in no time.

  1. Prep Your Hands. Begin by soaking your hands in a bowl of soapy, warm water for 5 minutes, this will clean the hands and soften the cuticle area. Use a good hand scrub to get rid of any hard, dry skin and pat dry.
  2. Prep Your Nails. Now your cuticles are softened, gently push them back (I have another blog post with all the information on treating your cuticles properly). Next, file the nails into shape with a crystal or glass file; this should be done in a gentle manner, going in one direction. Remove any oil, dust, dirt or polish residue from the nail using some non-acetone nail polish remover.
  3. Create a Firm Foundation. You need something on the nail which will protect it from staining. You also need to create an anchor for the polish to adhere to. This is were a base coat comes into play! Choose one that is specific, stating that it is a base coat. (As top/base coat combined products are not as effective and the wear time of your polish will not be very long.)
  4. Prep The Polish. Nail polish has a tendency to settle and/or separate. The polish needs to be agitated. However, do not shake the bottle as this creates bubbles in the polish which transfer onto the nail and look uneven and peel the polish easily. Instead roll the polish in the palms of your hands gently, until the polish is well mixed and ready to use.
  5. Apply Thin Coats. When you apply the polish, think of a three stroke rule. Start in the centre, and in one motion go from base to tip. Then one side and then the other. Apply the polish in thin coats, this will dry faster and more evenly. The thicker the coat, the longer the drying time, meaning smudges and smearing can occur more easily. You may think one thick coat will save you time if you’re in a rush, but it can tend to look patchy, uneven and ill done. Always remember to seal the tips of the nail, glide the edge of the brush along the tip; this will prevent chipping at the tips of your nails.
  6. Protect It. Now you have a smooth and evenly painted manicure, you need to protect it. This is were a top coat comes into play. A top coat will seal the polish onto the nail, meaning longer wear time for your nail polish and less chipping and peeling. Look out for a top coat that is designed as just this, the combined base/top coats are not designed to seal the nail properly. If you can avoid the fast drying top coats do, as these have a tendency to dry the nails out making them brittle.
  7. Clean Up. Next you need to do a clean up of any polish that strayed onto the cuticle or skin area. The cuticles need to breathe in order to be healthy. Look for a flat, small paint brush/ make-up brush/ or nail brush. Dip the brush into polish remover and go around the nail to get any polish off and to tidy up the edge of the polish near the cuticle; giving it a nice, crisp, even finish.
  8. Quench the thirst. All the chemicals we use on our hands and nails can tend to dry them out and dry nails are weak, brittle and prone to peeling. So use a good hand lotion afterwards. Also add an oil to the nail and cuticle area. This can be a good way to protect the nail as it is drying. The oil will act as a barrier, so if the nail is still drying and your nails go against something they will not stick or smudge, it will glide off due to the oil.

Finally, enjoy your beautiful nails. No one is a professional as soon as they start but with practice and these steps, you can hopefully achieve a standard that you are happy with.

Conclusion.

I hope that these steps have helped you to get a salon like manicure at home. I also hope you enjoyed reading them and have learned something new from these. If you have not don’t worry, you may already know how to create the look or just need a little more practice, don’t give up – beautiful nails take time.

 

 

Natural Nail Treatments

bowl of water nails

At home natural nail treatments have become very popular. There are lots of remedies that can be found in books, online, by work of mouth, via Youtube, your friends and family. But, how do you know which ones actually work?

I have seen some that make no sense and would do nothing for your nails health. For example, Gelatin – Who thought to use this as a nail ingredient? I have compiled a list of natural nail remedies, how to use them and why you would use them for your nail health. All are basic ingredients, but have very powerful effects.

Tea Tree Oil

This oil removes discolouration and yellowing from nails. Its anti-septic helps prevent and treat fungal infections.

Pop a few drops of oil in a small bowl of warm water. Soak your nails for 3-5 minutes, remove hands but do not rinse and pat dry. Use this 2-3 times a week.

Olive Oil

This softens and helps moisturise nails and cuticles – leading to strong and healthy nails.

Warm a little oil and massage into nails and cuticles for a few minutes. Leave on for 15 minutes, rinse with just water and pat dry. Use this 2-3 times a week.

Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E provides a moisturising property that gives nails a boost of hydration, resulting in healthy nails.

Break open a Vitamin E cap and extract the oil. Pop the oil onto the nail and cuticle and massage in for a few minutes. Do this daily before bed for a few weeks and you will notice a huge difference.

Beer

Beer contains Selenium, Potassium and Biotin that creates strong, thick and healthy nails. It is also rich in Silicon, which treats weak nails.

Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of beer in a small bowl. Soak the nails in this for 15 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Use 2-3 times a week.

Green Tea

Tea gets rid of any yellow discolouration on the nail and the anti-oxidants helps prevent brittle nails. It will also strengthen weak nails.

Allow a cup of green tea to cool. Soak the nails for 10-15 minutes, remove and pat dry. Use this twice a week.

Flaxseed

Micro-nutrients such as B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Lecithin and Protein in flaxseed are needed for healthy nails. The Omega 3 nourishes and hydrates dry, brittle nails through it’s fatty acids.

Rub flaxseed oil onto the nail and cuticle, massage in for a few minutes before bed. Wear cotton gloves over this oil to keep the moisture in. Rinse off in the morning. Use daily.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This vinegar contains the nutrients Magnesium, Potassium, Iron and Calcium these strengthen the nails. The acidic nature can prevent and treat fungal infections.

Mix equal parts water and raw, unfiltered vinegar in a small bowl. Soak nails for 5-10 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Use this daily for a few weeks.

Other Options

Another way to naturally treat nail problems and to keep them healthy is to combat them from inside-out. I will also list these:

Protein Based Foods

Nails are made of keratin – a certain type of protein. You need protein foods as building blocks for healthy, strong nails. Protein rich foods include, chicken, seafood, nuts, eggs, low fat dairy, beans, lean meats, tofu, soybeans and quinoa.

Biotin

This is a B vitamin that helps build nail hardness and thickness, it reduces the chance of the nails splitting. Foods rich in Biotin include carrots, salmon, sweet potato, corn, lentils, egg yolks, peanuts, soybeans, almonds and fortified cereals. Biotin can also be found as an oral supplement from most health food shops.

Conclusion

Some of these may work better than others for your nails. It is worth trying them all out and seeing which works the best for you. On a personal level, the ones that worked best for my nails were olive oil, biotin and flaxseed. I have had huge changes since using them, I tend to rotate what I use each week.

I hope that you find one that works for your nails and that these natural treatments aid you on your way to beautiful, strong, healthy nails.

 

 

Gel Polish – The Good and The Bad

curing lamp

If you have had acrylic or gel nail extensions, the gel manicure basically follows a similar process without doing as much damage to the nail. This is why a gel manicure has such good staying power. Which means if not done correctly, the manicure also suffers the same lifting and peeling as a set of extensions.

It is always a good idea if you decide to have a gel manicure, to ask for recommendations and look online at reviews for your local nail salons to find a good place; as a lot can go wrong if they are not very experienced at doing gels, not just lifting can occur but bad damage to the nail and cuticle area that you will be growing out over a long period of time.

So how is a gel manicure done?

The nail is first lightly filed (for the gel to adhere better to the nail plate). Then a gel base coat is applied, this will then be cured/ baked under a UV lamp. Another coat of gel is applied now in the colour you have chosen and cured again. Finally, a top coat is applied and cured once more. The nail is then wiped down to remove stickiness and the nails are done; instantly dry!

The good points of a gel manicure.

  • One of the most appealing aspects of a gel manicure is it will not chip or peel. The length of time it lasts on your nails looking perfect is impressive. It usually lasts between 2-4 weeks.
  • If you are going away on holiday or just away for a business trip, you will not have to worry about your nails looking anything but perfect.
  • It is also very durable and holds itself in inclement weather.
  • If you go shopping, do some gardening, do the cleaning, or generally tackling whatever life has thrown at you, you are safe knowing your nails will still be looking neat and beautiful.
  • The manicure is instantly dry once done with a mirror like finish; so no waiting time  at the end of the manicure process, or worrying about smudging for hours afterwards.

The bad points of a gel manicure.

  • As the gel bonds so tightly to the nail, the gel will need to be soaked off with pure acetone wrapped in foil for 15-20 minutes at a time, (which is very harsh and toxic) as well as scraping away of the gel polish. This could need doing several times to completely remove the polish. This is extremely harsh on the natural nail, over time leaving them thin, weak, sore and prone to peeling and breaking.
  • If the gel is not applied correctly they can lift and peel at the edges. Leaving that supposedly perfect manicure a hot mess and a waste of money.
  • Gel manicures are much more expensive.
  • You cannot change your nail colour very often. Just something to keep in mind if you attend different parties, events or meetings. If you like to colour match, or you simply get bored of the same colour after a few days a gel manicure may not be suited for you.
  • Repeated application or changing of the colour with no breaks result in brittle, peeling,sore extremely thin, dry nails.

gel polish

Now you know how a gel manicure is done, along with the good points and the bad points associated with it. Personally, I think having the gel option is great if you need it to last for 2 weeks like going away on holiday. Other than this option I would avoid having a gel manicure and opt for a gel like finish manicure. There are many different brands available, in a rainbow of colours with great staying power and  a mirror like finish.

This is just my personal experience and knowledge of having and doing them. I am showing you good and bad points of the gel manicure so you yourself can make an educated decision when considering having one done at a salon. I hope this helps at least a few people who are thinking about taking the leap into a new way of doing their nails.

Cuticle Care

Cuticle Care heartprettynailsblog

When I first started doing nails I did all the rookie mistakes and wondered why my nails and cuticles looked terrible. I tried everything I heard about but they still looked awful.

I wondered what I was doing wrong, over the years I have learned so much. I thought it would be a good idea to condense everything from those years of experience to create a quick guide about the often looked over area of cuticles. Our cuticles are a massive part of the nail care routine and should have as much attention as the nail itself. Hopefully you gleam some useful information about the subject from this post.

What is the cuticle?

The cuticle is the skin at the base of the finger or the toe nail, it sits on top of the part of the nail that grows.

Why do we have cuticles?

The cuticles purpose is to act like a barrier to protect the nail.

Do I cut my cuticles?

No! The cuticle has a reason for being there, removing this area of your skin can cause you health risks. Cutting them leaves you with open cuts on your hand, which can lead to infection and irritation.When the cuticle regrows it will look uneven and flaky, cutting them can also cause problems such as ridges, white spots or white lines on the nails.

What can cause damage to the cuticle?

The cuticles can become chapped, dry and/or damaged from many factors; salty or soapy water, chlorination, excessive environmental conditions, exposure to hot sun or cold, as well as drying agents such as fast drying top coats, acetone from nail polish remover, and detergents. Cutting and biting the cuticle can also damage the cuticle.

How do I make my cuticles look neater?

Use a cuticle remover or a cuticle softener. Apply with a nail brush, a cotton bud, or if it came with its own applicator apply via this method. Leave on for 1-2 minutes or as instructed to on the product itself, with an orange stick gently and carefully push back the cuticle. Wash hands and apply a cuticle oil.

Why use a cuticle oil?

Cuticle oil can help repair damage, nourishes the nail and cuticle. It also aids circulation in the nail bed creating growth and maximises the overall health and appearance of the nail and cuticle.

What is cuticle oil?

Cuticle oil is applied to the cuticle and the nail area. When applied it softens and moisturises the area. Look for the ingredient Vitamin E, this will help repair damage that has been done to the nail.

Conclusion.

For some when looked at all these seem pretty simple and common knowledge, for others who are first starting out on their nail journey they may not know these and that was my aim. To create a simple post on what they are, how to care for them, and how to maintain the health of them via products. I will also post a blog to follow this about the cuticle care products that I personally recommend and why I think they are the bees knees!