Of all the types of primping I love, nails are The Biggie. I have experimented with various nail art and polishes. However, the discovery of the Espionage Cosmetics NailedIts sets pretty much made my life complete. I had always loved the idea of Jamberry, but I never felt that the patterns effectively represented my geekiness. NailedIts, on the other hand, rendered my fingers geekily beautiful.
Unfortunately, I am also extremely cheap while being extremely hard on my hands. I type a lot. I have a seven-year-old who leaves a Pigpen-style cloud of toys and clothes and dishes behind him that require my picking things up constantly. This meant that within a few days, I often found my manicures peeling at the edges or getting caught in my hair while washing it.
This led to six months of intensive experimenting at how to make my manicures last. I tried no base coat. I tried layering various types of wet coats and dry coats. I tried top coats and gel coats. You name it, I tried All. The. Things. The longest I managed to make my manicures last was to limp them along for 6 days.
Then, I read this post on a friend’s blog. And suddenly, all of my nail problems made sense. Most of my problems were because my nails were dry and flaking because I was constantly deprived of rest. Even my nails needed a vacation. Except, I like my nails looking pretty so I had to find ways to keep my nails healthy while still wearing my wraps.
1) Clean up those cuticles. Every good manicure that I’ve had done by a professional includes a good cuticle clean-up. Never clip the cuticles as a whole. Generally, a good warm water soak followed by gently pushing them back with a wooden orange stick works well.
2) Always moisturize the cuticles. Always. I use the stuff from the grocery store so it’s not really about expense.
3) A moisturizing base coat. After research and discussion with customer service people at the beauty stores, I chose Dermalect Launchpad. It goes on easily. Dries fast. The key for wearing under the wraps is to make sure that it’s dried thoroughly. If you try to get the base coat to be an “extra layer of glue” by applying the nail wraps while the base coat is still wet, they’ll slide right off. This is not a good thing in terms of making them last longer.
4) Top coats. I like top coats mainly because they even out the top of the nail so that the edges of the wraps don’t get caught on things so easily. Like, say, my hair when I’m washing it. I tend to use a base coat called Stickey to have the top coat adhere to the wraps. Then, I put two coats of top coat on. Through various trials, I’ve found that Revlon’s Extra Life No Chip Top Coat works really well. I also swear by Revlon Nail Care Liquid Quick Dry, which I’ve used for years. It dries polish faster than anything else. Make sure to swipe it between top coats to dry them thoroughly, otherwise the wraps will slide around.
All of these are great in terms of how to make the manicure aspect of the wraps lengthen wear. However, it doesn’t address the day to day wear and tear on my manicures.
1) Whenever doing chores that require contact with water, I’ve learned to wear rubber gloves. I may feel like my grandmother, but my manicure is well-protected.
2) When washing my hair, I use a comb to comb shampoo and conditioner through. Again, this does nothing other than keeping less water from wearing away at my manicure.
3) Daily cuticle moisturizing.
4) Swiping on an extra layer of top coat every 3-4 days. When too much wrap starts to peek through the top coats, I swipe an extra layer on. I try not to do it every other day, otherwise the polish dries out. However, about halfway through the manicure an extra swipe will give me a few more days on the back end.
After six months of trial and error, I have managed to keep my manicures healthy and long lasting despite my exceptionally hard wear on my hands.