Every so often even my nails end up looking haggard and spent. This is when I know rather than doing a simple polish change and cuticle removal, I need to treat myself to an at home spa manicure.
For me this obviously starts with removing my old polish, and then I soak my tips with Creative Nail Design's Citrusoak. I also use little plastic dishes meant for soaking. However, just a little liquid dish soap and a bowl from the kitchen will also work just as well. I particularly love the Citrusoak for it's scent- it has a light citrus scent that is a mix of lemon and lime. I'm a sucker for anything citrus!
After I've soaked for about 5 minutes or so, I will use an orange stick to push back my cuticles and clean under the nails. I love to use a cuticle remover at this step, and my favorite is Sally Hansen's Instant Cuticle Remover (the blue one!). Don't let this cuticle remover scare you! The packaging says it removes cuticles in 15 seconds, but if you have it on longer it won't dissolve your skin away. I like to use this in the sink. I simply apply a small amount to each nailbed, rub it in and then run my thumbnail over each cuticle. It quickly and painlessly removes any excess, and with regular use (about every 1-2 weeks) and daily use of Creative Nail's Cuticle Eraser Cream, I don't have to cut my cuticles any longer. Simply wash off with hand soap.
If I'm feeling particularly in need of pampering, I'll warm up my Paraffin Bath by HoMedics. My roommate from school gave me this for Christmas a few years ago, and it is one of the best presents I've ever received from a friend. I like to do a few coats of wax and then put on the plastic covers. I'm finally almost out of the plain paraffin that came with this unit, and I'm on the lookout for some great scented paraffin to try next. This unit is very easy to use, just plug it in and that's it. It even has a timer option so you can tell it when you want to use it, and it will be ready for you. Just be prepared for the 4-5 hours that the wax takes to melt!
Finally, you are ready to do your mani! Just be sure to clean off your nails before applying polish, after the wax any base coat you apply will likely just slide off. I use a little rubbing alcohol, but acetone or nail polish remove will prepare the nail just as well.
Creative Nail Design Citrusoak at Head 2 Toe Beauty
HoMedics Paraspa Delux Paraffin Bath at Amazon
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover at Amazon
Pictured nailpolish: Opi's Fit for a Queensland