I have small hands, with small nails. More specifically, my “nail beds” are small. The nail bed is the area of skin under the nail, and if one has naturally long nail beds, their hands and nails look longer and elegant, even with short nails. Shorter nails are chic as well as practical, and don’t take quite as much work and maintenance as long nails. One doesn’t have to watch what they do or constantly worry about “breaking a nail”.
I’ve had acrylic nails, nail tips, gel nails etc etc. We all know by now what acrylic nails do to your nails bed – they us a flipping Dremmel on your nails to prepare them for the acrylic. This damages the nails, and, sometimes even fungus grows under them. Ew. Gel manis require regular visits to the salon. I prefer to do my own nails, switch the colour and wear my nails bare at times. So no gel nails for me.
How does one keep their nails short, chic and lovely without looking like stubby little baby nails? There are tricks – you can change the look of your nails without applying thick heavy chemicals or Dremmel-ing them into submission.
Starting with clean nails, gently file your nails into the shape you like. I like the “squoval” shape, which is a square-ish or flat nail with slightly rounded corners. Although, the “almond” shaped nail is making a comeback these days, sort of a throwback to the glamorous nails of the 1970s. Or even the 1940s, frankly. I’m experimenting with a short version of a slightly oval shape. You will have to play around to find the shape you like, that looks best on your hands, and that doesn’t break or tear. One has to be careful when filing the edges of the nails, as too much in the wrong direction can weaken nails. Nail blogger Loodie Loodie Loodie takes an analytical approach to nail care – seriously, she is amazing – and here is a link to posts on nail shapes and what might be best for you. I recommend a glass file, as it appears to file the nail gently, with less tip damage than a rough emery board.
The easiest way to make your nails look groomed and improve the look of your nail bed is to manage your cuticles. Do not cut them – I repeat – do not cut your cuticles. For some reason, cutting them makes them grow back and become harder and thicker. So I prefer the “remove and push back to make them the shape you want” method. All you need for this is Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and a cuticle pusher and/or orange stick. I like to apply the cuticle remover and let it work, while I file my nails. Then, using the orange stick, push my cuticles back gently. This helps to expose more of the nail bed, and over time, will make your nail bed larger, and then your nails look longer.
Then, using the most gentle buffer I can find, I gently buff the tips of my nails. This helps to smooth the edges that have been filed and seal the nail so there are no rough edges to catch on anything. Your nails may have some slightly rough bits along the cuticle – this is easily remedied by using the buffer. It can be an awkward spot to buff, so I use the soft side of a cushioned nail file to push back the cuticles again. The round edge is gentle to your cuticles, and gentle grade of file is just enough to buff out the rough parts.
Then, I wash my hands. I do this quickly, as bare nails absorb water quite easily. I like to scrub my nails, and I like to use a soft toothbrush. They have enough texture to get rid of the dead skin around the nails that the cuticle remover has softened, and clean under the nail. If you’d like to give your nails a treat, dry them well, and apply a nail oil. I love Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil. Apply it to your entire nail, the cuticles, and the areas all around and under the nail. Leave it for a bit, then rub in well. Apricot and jojoba oil have molecules that are small enough to penetrate the nail and nail bed so they offer true moisturizing properties. Use a rich hand cream and then you apply nail polish the next day. You can apply the cuticle oil around and under your nails after they are polished as well. You will notice a difference within a week – I guarantee it. Another amazing product is LUSH Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter.
You may want to prime the nail surface to be sure the polish adheres. I use a little acetone mixed with glycerin on a cotton pad. This is also what I use to remove my polish. It’s easy and inexpensive to make yourself, and has become my favourite nail polish remover. I put it in a refillable pump bottle because it simplifies my life.
Then, apply your fave polish. I do this routine every ten days to two weeks. Do you have a routine for doing your nails?