If you've been reading this blog since its birth or if you've read some of my posts (either way - hello and thank you!), you may have seen my step-by-step tutorial on how I paint my nails. It's been quite a few months since then and, if I do say so myself, my nail skills have improved drastically.
I use either Duri Rejuvacote or OPI Natural Nails Base Coat, and my go-to top coats are Cult Nails Wicked Fast (for when I'm wearing more than two coats of polish) and the OPI top coat (for swatching). PVA glue peel-off base is also useful if you only want to wear a glitterbomb for a short period of time.
I use the 'three-stroke' method of painting my nails (see it here on Laquerized or in this video by Kayla Shevonne) - I always make sure to wrap my tips. When I'm using a polish that has very dense glitter, I use the 'dabble' method (shown here by More Nail Polish).
I used to leave my thumbs bare of polish so I could clean up as I went, but now I use an angled makeup brush with acetone for clean up (you can use polish remover, but I found that everything was much easier once I got my hands on some pure acetone). The OPI Correct and Clean Up pen is another go-to for me when I find I've missed a spot of polish and want to get rid of it quickly without getting the acetone and everything out.
I clean up around my nails after the first coat of polish, and again after the second if I need to (my second coat's usually neater). I dip my makeup brush straight into the acetone bottle, swipe it on the insides of the bottle neck to get rid of excess acetone and then brush around my cuticles and nails as needed (see the technique here on Laquerized). I clean the brush off on a bit of paper towel.
To remove my nail polish, I use a polish remover with acetone and some cotton wool.
Originally, I used starofmaybeauty's method of removing polish with a makeup pad, but now I use the soak-and-swipe method (shown here by Elissa of Ten Little Nubs). Basically, unroll a cotton ball and pull it apart so it's in small bits. Soak the bits in remover and place on the nail, making sure that the whole nail is covered. Wait a couple of minutes (depending on the polish - cremes take less time while shimmers and glitters take longer) then, with a slight side-to-side motion, pull the cotton off the nail.
To remove nail polish with dense glitter, I use the foil method of removal (shown here by Elissa of Ten Little Nubs)
I don't use cuticle remover but if I do find that some cuticle/skin has stuck onto my nail (generally a couple of millimetres away from the cuticles themselves) I gently scrape it off with an orange stick or buff my nail with one of those 3-step buffing files to get rid of it (if I don't do anything about it, my polish tends to lift at the cuticle area after about a day of wear).
I moisturise my skin regularly as a habit, but when the skin around my nails is looking particularly dry I massage some Lush Lemony Flutter in.
I use a very fine nail file to shape my nails, since my nails used to be very weak and I don't want to damage them. (For information on filing, see these awesome posts by Loodie Loodie Loodie). When I want to take down length (usually after my mother remarks at how long my nails are getting) I use a nail clipper and chop them down to a length that's roughly what I want, then I go back with nail files and refine the shape. I know that a lot of people don't use nail clippers because they can be bad for your nails, but it works for me!