The holiday season has been pretty crazy for me, and with all the presents, celebrations and work stuff I’ve been having a bit of a struggle finding some “personal time” – an hour or so when you can relax and fully focus on doing something nice for yourself. So when I was finally able to fit that personal time into my schedule, it felt SO good that I decided to share! Maybe it will inspire some of you lovelies to indulge in some pampering. You definitely deserve it! ♥
One of my favorite “me time” things has to be giving myself a manicure, and I certainly needed one this time. The last time I had touched my nails was back in 2012, when I had taken off my Zoya Ziv polish. After that I hardly even used any cuticle oil, so my nails were not in the greatest shape.
Here’s what I typically use for my manicures:
- cocoa butter shower gel and bath oil
- a glass file, orange stick and 4-way nail buff
- Revlon Gentle Cuticle Remover and OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil (another favorite of mine is Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream – I carry that one around in my bag and use it “on the go” and during the day at the office)
- hand cream (Neutrogena Norwegian Formula this time, since I’m currently testing it – I usually use Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, which is my absolute favorite and one of my skincare Holy Grails)
- Ecotools Sustainable Moisture Gloves
- a towel and a scented candle (the candle is solely for personal enjoyment and relaxation – there’s just something so soothing about lighting one for yourself)
The first step is filing nails (it’s important to do this first, because shaping damp nails is not a great idea – they tend to split so much easier). As always, file in just one direction, that also helps with splitting! And make sure to look at your nails from all angles in order to get an even of a shape as possible (“facing in” and “facing out” can make a world of a difference). I also really love those glass files, they have a much finer grain to them and leave the edges so nice and even.
Once the shape is done, I put a drop of some rich moisturizing shower gel into a bowl (here I’m using the Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Body Wash as that’s what I currently have on hand in the shower), add some hot water, add a drop of body oil and soak my hands for at least 10 minutes, every once in a while massaging the nail bed. This part is why it’s really important to have a some dedicated personal time – it feels so great to just relax and enjoy the scents and warm water and not have to hurry! It helps to send the boyfriend on a dog walk or grocery run.
Once my hands are nice and soft, I use a towel to gently dry them and push my cuticles back. Gently! Trust me, I’ve had some unpleasant (and bloody) situations when I was a bit too eager with this step. Then add a drop of cuticle remover, let it soak in for a couple of minutes and use an orange stick to once again gently (!) push the cuticles back. The Revlon Gentle Cuticle Remover is the first one I’ve ever used and in all honesty I’m not certain it does much… I use it anyway, but if you’re searching for something, I would recommend looking elsewhere. I’ve read that Sally Hansen has some nice ones, so that one’s on my list of things to try.
The next step – buffing nails and getting rid of (prominent) ridges. If you have thin nails like me, you have to be really careful with this one! The last couple of manicures I got at a salon were a little too rough for me, and you can see on the tip on my index finger that the nail isn’t doing so well. So when I do it myself, I really try to use as light a touch as possible, and only buff the “new” part of the nail that has grown out since my last manicure. That way I’m not taking anything off of the already thin parts, and hopefully I won’t have anymore weak nail tips! In my opinion, buffing can easily be skipped, but I like to do it anyway – first of all it makes for less streaky nail polish application, and secondly if I’m not wearing polish, I really like the subtle healthy shine of buffed nails.
The fourth step is another one of my favorites: applying a cuticle oil/cream to the nail bed, slathering on an extra thick layer of hand cream, putting on moisture locking gloves and kicking back! The gloves help keep the products on your hands and not rubbing off on everything you touch – these have been a savior for me in the winter. They are especially awesome to wear at night – I am so guilty of putting my hand cream on when I’m already in bed. The result? Approximately 30 seconds later I have nothing left on my hands, but my sheets are nice and moisturized. With gloves I wake up to super soft hands, and none of the creams are being wasted on moisturizing bed linens (sorry, sheets!).
I’m currently trying out the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream that I got for free from BzzAgent, and this is what I used for this manicure. Now, I have to say that the hand cream itself is very different – it’s glycerin-based, as opposed to oil-based, so the texture is unlike any other hand cream I had used before. It’s very dry, and you take a teeny, pea-sized amount and make sure to really warm it up on the back of your hands before spreading it all around the place (I sometimes even let it sit on the back of my hand for a couple of minutes to warm up even more). If you don’t do that, you’ll end up using too much, and the thing that I don’t really like about the cream will shine through: its stickiness.
The stickiness is actually the primary reason why I am not able to use the Neutrogena as a day cream, even when I use a minimal amount. Such a shame – the tube is nice and small and so easy to carry around in my bag! But I do use it at night, and for manicures. When used with gloves, the stickiness doesn’t really make much of a difference, and it leaves my hands and cuticles super soft! It is also fragrance-free (there’s an Original scent version too), which makes for good night-time sleeping without any distracting scents.
While I can’t say that my nails were in horrible shape before (which is surprising, considering how long I had been neglecting them!), there is still certainly quite a difference – no more overgrown cuticle and rough edges from previous buffing, just healthy and cared for nails. And that’s just one of those little things that make me happy: when I can look at my fingers and see picture #2 instead of picture #1!
I received the Netrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream for free from BzzAgent and the opinions expressed in the post are my own.