Sunday, 30 October 2011

The 10 Basics of Nail Polish - What Every Beginner Should Know

10 Things

10 Things Every Girl Who Polishes Needs to Consider

Hi Goddesses

So, we all start somewhere, and I shocked myself the other day when I realised I’ve only really being doing this for about 3 months and 1 week!  Really ? it feels like FOREVER and I can’t imagine that less than 6 months ago I talked and obsessed about things other than nail varnish lol.

Some of my most successful blog posts have been the “10 Things You Need To Know About Nail Polish” series (here and here ), so I thought I’d do a slightly different version, starting with what I wish I’d learnt, and the order in which I probably needed it.  For some of you, it will be a walk down Nostalgia Lane, for others, it might save you some of the mistakes we’ve all made along the way.

Base Coat

  • ·         You NEED a base coat.  Simple as.  Full stop.  No arguments.
  • ·         Why?  Well, it helps protect your nail from staining, and it helps your polish stay intact and not chip.  Remember, avoiding chipping is the Holy Grail J
  • ·         There are loads to choose from, and this is one of the areas where you really will need to find the one that works best for you.
  • ·         Ones I’ve tried – Zoya Anchor, OPI base coat, OPI Nail Envy.  The latter is the one that really works for me, I use their Sensitive & Peeling version, and I *can* feel a difference in my nails.  I’ve also bought some CND Stickey to try – other girls swear by this for keeping your mani intact.  I’ve also heard good things about using a ridge filler as a base coat, but I haven’t tried it yet

Top Coat

  • ·         You NEED top coat.  Maybe not quite in the same way you need base coat, but if you want to give your mani the best chance of lasting, you NEED top coat.  It also seals it all together, and a good one makes your whole mani dry, so that you can start using those hand thingies again.
  • ·         Aren’t they all the same ?  Noooooo.  And again, they vary from person to person.  What works for you will not work for someone else. 
  • ·         Personally, I prefer POSHE, a US brand.  It dries quickly and it gives so much shine.  You can almost see your face in it.
  • ·         But Crumpet, they all dry quickly.  Ha ha, bless, you’re so new.  No.  They don’t.  Some do and are awesome, but every now and then, you’ll get caught out by one that doesn’t dry fast and it will all smudge.  I also love OPI Rapid Dry top coat.  Most bloggers swear by Seche Vite, but this gives me what they call “shrinkage”, where the nail varnish *shrinks* away from the edge, leaving a tiny bit of nail visible.  You want to AVOID any top coats that do this to your nails.

Nail Remover

  • ·         There are basically 2 ways to remove nail polish – acetone remover, or acetone-free remover.
  • ·         Wisdom suggests acetone-free is better for you, because acetone can dry out your skin.  However …. that’s like saying low-fat is better for you than full-fat, when we all know damn well it’s not going to taste as good.  L
  • ·         The ONLY nail remover I use is Zoya Remove.  It leaves your nails feeling beautifully conditioned and undamaged, and strong.
  • ·         And …?  Yes, it comes in an amazing pump bottle thing J

Colour Within The Lines
  • ·         Ok, this is like me, an English person, trying to teach the French how to speak French.  I SUCK at colouring within the lines.  That’s not to say I don’t understand how to do it ….no, my execution just sucks (probably because I am Miss Impatient, but I AM getting better).
  • ·         So here’s what I’ve learnt: contrary to popular belief (aka Crumpet Law) it is not the task of the Goddess to lawpse and spread the polish around the nail like you’re emulsioning a wall.  It is NOT mandatory to push it into every nook and cranny, and therefore puddle your cuticles and flood the area between the side of your nail and the skin until it is totally filled in and flat!
  • ·         No, what’s harder, but much more beautiful, is this.  Do not overfill your brush.  Try to leave a 1mm edge all around your nail, thus reducing opportunities for flooding.
  • ·         I am trying very hard to perfect the latter.  To do this, I have had to learn to breeeeathe, not rush, take allllllll the time in the world, stick my tongue out slightly as it improves concentration, and use the polish as sparingly as if it were gold dust.
  • ·         What I find really funny is this – I NEVER colour outside the lines with Glitter Gal.  It’s as if my subconscious knows how expensive it is and slows my hand down.  Lol. 

Wrap Your Tips
  • ·         Come again?
  • ·         Wrap.  Your.  Tips.  This means that when you do your first coat of colour, and your top coat, brush on the flat edge of your nail, but not underneath your nail.  This helps seal the whole mani and make it more resistant to chipping.  It makes sense – it’s easy to peel Sellotape off an edge, not so easy when it’s wrapped round the corner ….
  • ·         Penny drops.  J

Clean Up

  • ·         So, when you’re a mucky pup like me, you need a good clean up routine.  Admittedly, the normal person will only ever in a lifetime use 1/10th of what I use in an afternoon, but …you get the point.
  • ·         Pour some of your chosen nail remover – ie Zoya Remove – into a smaller bottle and keep this to one side for clean ups.  Next, buy a selection of corrector pens, cotton buds, cocktail sticks and brushes, and find out what works best for you!
  • ·         Most professionals prefer the brush.  I find this only works when my brush is stiff, and because I make a lot of mess, usually by about nail 6, the bristles have gone quite floppy and it’s hard to brush the excess away.
  • ·         I’m a big believer of “letting the remover do all the work”  (see a little bit later) and so I prefer to press a cotton bud to the area of mass flooding.
  • ·         Be careful tho – dark, vampy colours smear, so try not to “rub” them, and try not to smear remover everywhere.  I prefer to hold the cotton bud in place for 5-10 seconds, and just let the colour lift off.
  • ·         Also, if you’ve just made a teeny smidge of a mess, or it’s glitter, use a cocktail stick.  It can be dry – it’s just a great “prod n wipe” tool, and as it’s so thin and pointy, can really help lift the tricky stuff.

Removing It

  • ·         So, you’ve bought Zoya Remove and now you’re thinking, “what the hell does she mean, let the remover do the work”.  Most professionals swear by this, and Deborah Lippmann told me herself (indirectly, when she was being secretly filmed at a trade show).
  • ·         To remove my polish, I like to use square pads that are about 2 or 3 inches square.  I douse an area, press it to my nail, wrap it up like a swaddled baby with the bits of the pad I’m not using, sing a Katy Perry song for oooh 30 seconds and then… .. ..oh my god, you mean, it just Wipes Off ?  Without you having to do any work?  Amazing!
  • ·         It’s super easy, super quick, less damage to your nails (no sawing motion) and stops any smearing (especially with vampy colours).  Some people like to tear their square pad up into tiny chunks and have all 10 nails defrosting at the same time.  I prefer not to do this, but I do always have 2 mummy wraps on the go.
  • ·         This also works for glitter – just leave it longer – say 2-3 mins.  You’ll feel straight away, the minute you try to move the pad, whether it’s worked.  If it has, the pad will just pull away from the nail, taking the glitter with it; if it hasn’t, you’ll feel the tug as the wool sticks to the polish, in which case just rewet and resoak.
  • ·         Some people use the foil method.  This is almost exactly the same as the above, except they wrap each swaddle in tin foil afterwards, to keep it moist and accelerate the process.  I don’t use it purely because I’m happy with how long my method takes and the results I get with it.  Besides, I’ve already got enough crap in my nail room lol.
  • ·         The WORST thing you can do, especially with a glitter, is sit there rubbing at it for half an hour until you get cramp, which is what happened to me the first time I wore Deborah Lippmann.  Not only does this Really Hurt, but it puts you off using glitter, which is the 2nd best thing God ever made for women after chocolate.

What Are The Best Brands

  • ·         When it comes to putting colour on your nails, choose what works for you.  When I started, I was a nail polish snob, and would only use OPI and Zoya.  However, that snobbery came at a price, because although those 2 brands are magnificent, neither of them are cutting edge, cool, or pushing the envelope of what is possible with a polish.  So now I use all sorts of brands and would encourage you to do the same.
  • ·         I do however have just 2 words of caution.  Well, 2 thoughts, not words.  Again, what works for one person will not work for another.  A lot of people love Orly.  On me it’s thin and chips as soon as I’m not looking.  Likewise, I think Zoya rocks, but loads of people experience problems with it, or get shrinkage.  So, learn what works for you.
  • ·         Next – it’s ok to do cheap, but never do cheap AND nasty.  And we ALL know what I’m talking about here.  You can grab some real bargains but try to stay away from polishes that are so cheap they must be at least partially carcinogenic and have been tested on fluffy animals.  Speaking of which ..

Big 3 Free
  • ·         3-free is nail polish’s equivalent of low fat, or low carb.  It’s basically polish with the bad things taken out.  The bad things were toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and they have been linked to nasty health problems.
  • ·         All the “better” brands are 3-Free, and I do personally view it as the sign of a respectable nail polish brand.  I imagine it is cheaper to make the polishes with the nasty stuff in, so that’s another reason I steer away from the cheap stuff.
  • ·         3-Free though is not the same as cruelty free.  Most of the better brands do not test on animals, and although some of the individual brands don’t, the larger cosmetics giants they are part of do.  You can read a good article on it here 

And finally …
  • ·         Oh my God are we at number 10 already, Crumpet we were having so much fun!
  • ·         Well, that is exactly the point I want to make with number 10.  Nail polish is fun.  Looking for colours is fun.  Finding out what colours work for you is fun.  Learning how to splatter and marble and do gradients – it’s all fun.
  • ·         The minute your mani becomes a chore or something you “have” to do ?  STOP DOING IT.
  • ·         Until then, keep polishing and keep enjoying it.  And keep reading me and the other bloggers, because it’s people like you who help us feel less alone in our obsession bubbles.

Enjoy – always xx  J


Top Tip – if you’re ever unsure what a nail colour looks like, go to Google images, which will give you plenty of contrasts and compares.

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