Happy Snowy Saturday!
I was working on this post earlier and then this happened.
White out conditions off and on for about an hour. One minute we had a dusting and then whammo! All clear as I write this - the sun is even shining - but for a while there, I'd look out my window and see nothing but white. I've been waiting for something like this ever since winter began and I got so excited running outside to take pictures then running from window to window to get different views.
But then I got down to business, took update photos and decided a little more work needed to be done. Nothing like a good closeup to show you how bad things really are.
So, I pulled out the cuticle care arsenal and went to work.
From the bottom up (because I need to further explain that thing at the very top): Dr. Scholl's flat nail clippers, Sally Hansen Gel Cuticle Remover, glass nail file, Ruby Stone, fine grit buffing block, Jolie French Nail Brush with Cuticle Pusher, tweezers, orange stick with gritty stuff at both ends, and the infamous cuticle trimmer, this one from Revlon.
Now, before anyone jumps me about that cuticle trimmer, please understand that I absolutely do not use that thing to cut into living tissue. I did do that a long, long time ago, however, which is probably why I have so much trouble today. No, I only use this to gently shave away dead skin at the sidewalls.
It may or may not be noticeable in the pictures I post, but I tend to get this excess skin at the sides of my nails that will eventually dry up and become hang nails - despite all the oiling. My nail beds tend to thicken (possibly a diabetic thing since it's never been a problem before) and as the nails grow out, it seems as if the dead part of the nail bed just gets squeezed out with it. It does tend to cause problems when I polish. Sometimes the only thing I can do to get rid of it is to gradually shave it off.
I have learned how to use this trimmer in such a way that it doesn't go into the live skin. The trick for me is to use it in a cross and upward motion that gets rid of the dead part while leaving the live part strictly alone. If the dead growth is really bad and rough, I'll use that cuticle stick with the gritty ends and sand the spot smooth.
I also use those sticks on the rough corners I tend to get at the corners of my fingers - again, despite all the oiling. Those will catch on everything and the gritty ends do a good job of smoothing the skin and making it softer.
I've had a Ruby Stone nail file of one kind or another for years. It never dulls but it will break, which is usually why I end up getting a new one. I like these to clean up the ragged ends of the cuticle that exists beneath the nail tip, especially if I've filed my nails down as short as I have them right now. Not too hard, though. I have done myself injuries in the past by being too rough but I've learned from the experience.
The glass nail file is my go to nail file. It does the job without leaving too many shaved or rough bits behind, like an emery board does. One tip: when looking to purchase a glass nail file, always make sure you're getting one that's made in the Czech Republic. Those are the best. Anything else I've used just never came close to the quality. Genuine Czech Republic glass files never wear out. If the file no longer seems to be doing the job, I simply wash it, let it dry and it's good as new. Glass files can also be disinfected, another plus.
No matter what kind of file I do use, I always end up with rather sharp nail tips and that's where the buffer comes in. I ever so lightly run that over my nail tips at a downward angle and that softens them up so they're not so sharp.
I will, on rare occasions, use the block to buff away any roughness of the nail plate. But not much. Anytime you use any kind of gritty buffer on your nails, you are buffing away the top layer of your nail, which only weakens it further. If you must buff, I would recommend you use a fine grit and go gently and only if absolutely necessary.
I know some people buff to get rid of nail stains but if you're going to polish anyway, why bother? I've had some pretty bad stains in the past, but I've found that if I just leave them, they do eventually fade. I've found that Zoya Remove Plus tends to help with that. Don't how it does it but I do know that if I've swatched something that stained my nails and I have more swatching to do, by the time I'm done, the stain it all but faded away. Since I use Zoya to remove my polish on a regular basis, I can only assume it's the reason.
What else? The cuticle remover should be self-explanatory. That, also, can do more harm than good if not used properly. Follow all directions carefully. Cuticle remover does not differentiate between the dead cuticle you want removed and live skin. Ana from Bliss Kiss and NailCareHQ just wrote an excellent article on this very subject. You can find it here. I read it while I worked on my own cuticles.
I don't use cuticle remover very often. Only when things become the kind of mess you saw above. When I do use it, however, I'm very quick about getting done and getting the stuff off. I'll put it around the cuticle area of my nail, let it sit for probably 30 seconds then use a cuticle pusher to work it around the nail plate at the cuticle area. I used the pusher end of my Jolie French Nail brush this time and it worked really well.
Once I'm done with the pusher, I'll rub the remaining gel into my entire nail and in the part beneath then let it sit for only a few more seconds before I wash my hands and use a nail brush to scrub away any bits left over. I do one hand at a time and oil before and in between. Any dead skin still sticking out gets shaved off with the Revlon cuticle trimmer or buffed or sanded away.
Like the cuticle trimmer, the tweezers only come into play if nothing else works to remove any tiny bits that I can't catch with my nails. A quick tug in the direction of growth removes the offending part without doing more damage. Another possibly dangerous practice but it's something I've had practice with and learned from mistakes.
And the result? See for yourself.
And, as you can see, I'm back to roundness. Lost the corner of the right thumbnail digging out a notebook from a pile. Seems when my nails are square, the corners take a lot of abuse. They're also the first to chip when my nails are polished. Guess I just have to accept it and give roundness a chance.
That's all I have for now. I was going to polish for V-Day but the loss of that corner necessitated another filing down. Besides, the whole point of this month long experiment was to give my naked nails some desperately needed intensive care. Perhaps I won't have to do any filing this week and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to polish come the end of the month.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned.