I don’t talk about it on the blog so much, but I’m a mani-pedi girl. When I have the time (which isn’t super often, given I have 2 young girls), I love to have my nails done. I don’t go out for a professional mani-pedi. Instead, I do it myself at home. I like the convenience, I know where the tools have been (and how they’ve been cleaned) and I have polish at home that I can easily touch up with later.
I thought I would share my favorite products to use when doing an at home manicure and pedicure. The products do get swapped in and out as I try new things, but I’ve found that these are the tried and true. The products that I keep stashed in my office polish area, that I rebuy, and that give me the best results.
1. Cuticle Remover: Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover (available at ULTA, Amazon) Before starting, I love to put a thin bead of this around my cuticles, move it around a bit with my fingertip. I push back my cuticles with a fingernail and then just wash my hands. It takes under a minute and makes a big difference in how my cuticles look!
Alternatives I Like: • Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover (at Nordstrom, Sephora, or Amazon) • Blue Cross Cuticle Remover (at Amazon): Note that this one isn’t as fast on my hands, but I’ve found that it works really well on my feet! It comes in a huge bottle, and I actually will sit down in the shower and put this all over my toe nails and my heels. I push back my cuticles, use a pumice stone on my heels, and sometimes use a foot scrub all over. It makes my feet super soft without needing to do something like the baby foot peel. Which I’m not going to lie, kind of freaks me out.
2. Base Coat: Orly Bonder (at ULTA or Amazon) I just don’t even use others now. Bonder is so much better for me! I have longer lasting manicures, my nails don’t get stained by polish… you get the idea.
3. Polish I have thousands of bottles of polish. This is not an exaggeration. After all of this polish buying and wearing, I’ve limited myself to a few favorite brands of polish that I use. Others just don’t seem to work as well.
• OPI (from ULTA or Amazon), pictured in It’s a Girl • Essie • Nails Inc • Chanel: Note, the wear is only about 3-5 days for this brand, but the colors are so great that I don’t care. Shown in Particuliere. • China Glaze • Zoya: When I wear Zoya I need to pair with their top coat.
“Long Wearing” Formulations: • Chanel Long Wear (at Chanel or Nordstrom) with Le Gel Topcoat (at Chanel or Nordstrom) • OPI Infinite Shine (from ULTA or Amazon) with Infinite Shine 3 Gloss Top Coat (from ULTA) • CND Vinylux (at Amazon) and CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat Nail Polish (at Amazon) • Essie Gel Couture (from Amazon) and Gel Couture Top Coat (from Amazon), shown in Make the Cut
4. Top Coat My go-to top coat is always Seche Vite (from ULTA or Amazon). It dries quickly, is thick enough to cover up imperfections in polish (but isn’t so thick that it looks strange), and is super shiny. I have found that it gets thick quickly, but a few drops of any polish thinner will fix that.
If I’m using a longer lasting polish that has a top coat to make a “system”, then I’ll use that special top coat instead of Seche Vite.
Alternatives I Like: • Poshe (from Amazon) • Nails Inc 45 Second Top Coat (from Sephora)
5. Hand and Cuticle Cream I have a huge collection of lotions, oils, balms… you name it and I’ve tried it to keep my nails and cuticles looking smooth and hydrated. No matter what product I’m using, the key really is regular use. I keep lotion in my pocket at the hospital and reapply it frequently throughout the day. We have a bottle of lotion next to the kitchen sink at home, and I even keep some on my bedside table. I apply lotion a lot, and that’s really what keeps my hands soft and hydrated. My favorite hand cream for years is the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (from Kiehl’s or Nordstrom)
6. Polish Remover I know it dries out your nails, but I admit that I use 100% Acetone to remove my polish. Non-acetone polish removers always seem to leave just a little polish behind, or they take a very long time and I get frustrated.
For my fingernails, I prefer one of those plastic jars of remover (like this one on Amazon). I can put each finger in, swirl it around and my polish comes off right away. If I need to clean up after applying my polish I can also just use a brush dipped into the jar.
On my toes, I use an acetone nail polish pad. I prefer the Cutex pads (my faves on Amazon), which come individually packaged (making them great for travel), and are a thick felt. It doesn’t take much work to remove polish with these pads.