Before I started practising nail art, I had given up on the idea of ever growing my nails long, as they were paper thin, dry, and prone to peeling. My cuticles were in an even worse condition; all the skin around my nails was torn and rough! Some people have naturally thick, strong nails that are easy to grow and maintain, but I wasn’t one of them. But as a result of dedication and lots of research, I eventually managed to put together a nail care routine that completely transformed the condition of my nails, cuticles, and hands. In this article, I would like to share everything I have learned so far so that you too can have beautiful, long, healthy nails!
The key to solving most common nail problems is to hydrate, This includes the nail itself, the cuticles, and the hands; I found I had the best results when using different products for all three. Hydrating the nails will prevent them from becoming dry and brittle and will reduce the chance of them breaking and peeling. Hydrating your hands and cuticles will prevent dry skin from appearing around the nail bed and the sides of the fingers.
To hydrate your nails, the best thing to use is oil! But that doesn’t mean you should run straight to the kitchen for the cooking oil. Nails are dense and require specific oils that can be absorbed through the layers of keratin. It is well known amongst nail experts that the best type of oil to use on your nails, is Jojoba oil. This oil is actually a liquid wax that is extracted from a shrub whose scientific name is Simmondsia Chinensis. The reason why this oil is known to be so beneficial to us is that it is the oil that most closely resembles the oily, waxy substance called sebum, that our own skin glands produce. Therefore, Jojoba oil is easily accepted and absorbed by our skin and nails and has many hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial benefits.
• Choosing an oil: There are many oils available on the market that are tailored specifically for nails. These can be purchased online or in some drugstores, and most have Jojoba oil as the primary ingredient. These nail oils can vary in price and quality, and sometimes you need to try a few brands before finding on that is best suited to your nail types. You could also try using 100% jojoba oil which can be purchased on Amazon for as low as £5.99 (Approx $7.99). There are many reviews from nail artists, stating that they found the pure Jojoba oil to be just as effective as the branded nail oils, however, I personally found that it didn’t hydrate my nails as well as some of the other brands that contain a blend of beneficial oils and vitamins.
• Application: Nail oil works best when applied thinly around the cuticle with a brush and then massaged in circular motions down the nail, until the oil has been absorbed. Also apply some oil to the underneath of the nail with the brush, especially if you are wearing nail polish. When you first start using nail oil, you should try applying it at regular intervals throughout the day, for around three days until your nails are starting to feel hydrated. Once the three day period is over, you can reduce this to around twice a day or when required, such as after washing your hands. Since you may need to apply your nail oil regularly, it may be best to purchase the ones that are supplied in the handy nail oil pens, or if you purchase a large bottle of oil, you can buy the empty nail oil pens from Amazon and make your own. These pens are convenient and easy to use and can be stored safely in your bag without running the risk of any leaks or spillages.
• Product I use: I have tried many different brands of nail oil, but the product I find works best for me, is the Simply Pure nail oil by Bliss Kiss. Although the prices may be higher than some other brands on the market, it is made worthwhile by the effectiveness and the quality. They have a wide variety of fragrances to choose from, as well as different size bottles and containers. If you are first starting out with nail oil, I recommend purchasing their pack of four starter pens which can be found here.
Since I live in the UK, I prefer to purchase their 4 oz bottle of oil, as it lasts for a very long time, and saves me from having to keep paying for shipping costs and customs import charges.
When dehydrated, cuticles and the skin around the nails can become hard, cracked, and torn, which can have a negative impact on the appearance of your nails, and can cause soreness and discomfort. Keeping your cuticles hydrated will also reduce the chances of developing painful and annoying hangnails.
While the nail oil that you use to hydrate your nails is beneficial to the cuticles also, I found that if the skin around your nails tends to harden and split easily, it helps to also use a cuticle cream in addition to your regular oil, as these are quicker and more effective at softening the skin.
• Choosing a cuticle cream: As with the nail oil, there are many different varieties and brands of cuticle cream to choose from. Each may contain different base ingredients, and it is just a matter of discovering which one works best for you and your skin type; although, the cuticle creams which use vitamin E oil as one of the main ingredients are well known to be very effective and beneficial. Vitamin E oil doubles as both a nutrient, and an antioxidant, and works by neutralising the free radicals that cause damage to your cuticles and nails, leaving them soft and rejuvenated.
• Application: I find that cuticle cream is quite heavy, and effective even from the first application. Therefore, I only apply the cream to my cuticles twice day, usually after showering and later in the day when my hands start to feel dry. To apply, I place a small amount of cream on the centre of my cuticle, and then massage it all around the cuticle are and the skin at the sides of my nail, in circular motions; then finally, I swipe any remaining residue from the cream, over the nail itself.
• Product I use: The cuticle cream which I have found to be most effective is Avon’s True Colour Nail Experts Vitamin E Cuticle Oil (15ml). I find this product easy to apply, smells delicious, is long lasting, and leaves my skin and cuticles looking and feeling soft and healthy after the first application. You only need to use a small amount around each nail, and one small tube lasts me around nine months. I have noticed though that Avon does not always stock this product month-by-month, and so you may need to keep checking their website to see if it’s available (please see link below). Availability may also differ in different countries.
Healthy hands mean healthy nails, and keeping them well-moisturised throughout the day will not only improve the appearance of your hands, but it will help to keep your nails strong and nourished.
• Choosing a hand and nail cream: To keep your hands moisturised throughout the day, find a good hand and cuticle lotion that works well with your skin type and absorbs well. I once had a hand cream that would sit heavy on my skin and left my hands feeling extremely greasy and didn’t do much at all to moisturise my hands. If you have very sensitive skin like I do, and your hands tend to dry out very quickly, then you may benefit more from a very intense hand cream, compared to people who have normal skin and only require a light moisturiser. You also don’t have to stick to one hand cream; I have four different types of hand cream that I use depending on how dry my hands are at any given time.
• Application: How much hand cream you apply depends on the product itself. Some creams are very light and absorb quickly, and so they can be applied lavishly. Others are sometimes very thick and heavy, and so a small amount can go a long way. To use, massage the cream into all areas of skin around the hand and nails, and up part of the wrist and forearm if necessary. By massaging the cream into the skin, you are also improving the circulation in your hands and increasing the blood flow to your nails, resulting in them growing fast and strong.
• Products I use: As I mentioned previously, I use four different types of hand cream. This in no way indicates that everyone should use multiple different hand creams, and for most people, just moisturising their hands with one product would suffice. However, I have very problematic skin and find that alternating the different creams throughout the day works best for me.
All of the hand creams I use are by Avon, as I find their products to be deeply nourishing, and great to use on an everyday basis without it leaving a greasy residue on the skin. Avon has a wide selection of hand creams available, and each has its own base ingredients, scents, and benefits depending on your skin type.
The first cream I use straight after showering in the morning is Avon’s Care Skin Recovery Hand Cream (75ml). This cream is very rich and counteracts any skin dryness within seconds of applying. After using, it will leave your hands feeling nourished and soft for hours.
The second cream I use is Avon’s Care Moisturising Royal Jelly Hand Cream (75ml). This cream isn’t as rich as the Skin Recovery but is rich and moisturising enough that I use it mostly when my hands have become dry and irritated after carrying out everyday tasks, such as cleaning. It also smells divine, is non-greasy, and works well on extremely dry skin.
The third product I use on my hands is Avon’s Care Aloe Vera Hand, Nail & Cuticle Lotion (75ml). Compared to the other two hand creams, this lotion is very light, fast absorbing, and is perfect for general use throughout the day, such as after washing hands. In addition to the Aloe Vera, this product also contains vitamin E.
Lastly, the fourth hand cream I use is Avon’s Planet Spa Relaxing Provence Spa Indulgent Hand Cream with lavender and jasmine. This product is only 30ml, but a little goes a long way. The lavender fragrance is wonderful, and the oils in the cream are very nourishing; the only downside is that the oils can sometimes leave a slightly greasy residue if too much product is used. For this reason, I only usually use this cream at night before bed.
**Please note that this guide for keeping nails moisturised is a guideline only. You may find that you do not need to apply the products as often as this guide suggests, or that you need to use as many products. Also, it may seem as though continuously moisturising your nails throughout the day can be a chore, however, the process is actually quick and easy and you may soon find yourself doing it automatically out of habit This is especially true if you use products such as the nail oil pens that can be carried with you at all times.**
When it comes to deciding when to apply the products, Bliss Kiss recommends that you follow the 3-Day Hydration Treatment™, when first using nail oil, and then applying at least twice daily thereafter. But you will also find that after using your nail/hand products for some time, you will start to feel when you need to apply more.
If you find that even after following these guides on how to grow strong and long nails, you do not find any improvement, it is recommended that you seek advice from your doctor or GP, as some nail issues can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. See the link for further information.
**Disclaimer: None of the products mentioned above are sponsored, these are just the products that I use as part of my daily routine. Additionally, I am in no way claiming that these products are the best on the market, and chances are that they may not be for everyone. However, I personally find them to work well with my nail type, and many are much more affordable than some alternative brands. In the near future, I intend on testing different brands of products and reviewing how well they work and ranking them based on results. Please feel free to let me know in the comments below if there’s anything, in particular, you would like me to test (eg nail polish, base coats, top coats, nail oil, acetone, liquid latex, nail vinyls).**