Friday, December 30, 2011

Hand and Nail Care: My Favorite Products and Tricks

I actually got asked right away to do this post by one of my guy friends.  I'm constantly playing video games, so I'm constantly bombarding my friends with nail polish talk even though they don't have the slightest interest in it personally, but taking care of your hands can be something everyone can get on board with.  I've always been really lucky and had nice, strong nails, but nail polish and acetone remover is really harsh on them as well as on my skin.

I do want to add a disclaimer before I go on too far.  People have very different body chemistries, so some products that work for me might not work the same wonders for you.  I've had to do some experimenting with different brands and if one of my methods doesn't help you, I recommend trying a different but similar product!

Anyway, on with the show!

I use three usual products to moisturize and nourish my hands and cuticles.

Burt's Bees cuticle cream smells wonderful, like lemon shortbread!  I use this after I take off my nail polish on the bare nail and massage it into my fingers.  After I polish, I use the OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil.  The reason I started using the oil was actually because I had a big gross callous on my ring finger of my right hand where I rest a pen when I'm writing and I wanted to soften it and make it disappear, but I liked the oil so much I started using it on all my fingers!  Finally, I use the OPI Avoplex High-Intensity Hand and Nail Cream regularly once a day but I keep it in my purse because it's winter and the cold weather has been drying my hands out like crazy.

I remove my cuticles one to two times a week.  I am a big fan of Sally Hansen's stuff and it works well for me, but I recently switched to Cutique because I'm using it to prevent stains on my nails themselves.  By the time I got ahold of it, my nails had a bit of yellowing, but I'm hoping that as my nails grow out, it will help keep them less yellow.

I pretty much swear by my glass file.  The first one I got was from Revlon and it was on sale at a drugstore, but I had passed up the one at Sephora because of a pricing mix up.  I really recommend getting the better quality file, like from Sephora (as long as they don't try to charge you $28 for it!).  My Revlon one was dull within a few weeks but my Sephora one is still going strong after months.  I actually hate the feeling of filing my nails like nothing else.  It's a huge pet peeve of mine!  But the glass file feels a lot smoother and nicer than most other files I've tried.  They're very hygienic too!  You can wash them with warm water and soap and ta-da!  Clean and ready to go again!

I really love both of these base coats.  The cap on my Poshe is broken so a lot of it spilled unfortunately, but I picked up the OPI DS Base Coat at half price at a beauty supply store in LA.  It's really nice and I love OPI brushes so that's always a plus!

Seche Vite is pretty much a staple for a lot of folks because of its shine, long wear and quick dry properties.  Here's what I find very fancy about it: Seche Vite is designed to not just sit on top and dry quickly, but to penetrate the layers underneath and create one layer of coating on the nail.  This means that you usually avoid the stage with your polish where the top is dry but the inside is still sticky and can therefore still get messed up.

Seche Vite wears super nicely for me on most polishes, but I do have a few problems from time to time.  I actually have the biggest problem when it comes to OPI nail lacquer, with the exception of their DS polishes.  I see a ton of tip wear as well as peeling if I use just Seche Vite on top of OPI and it's usually worse when it's a shimmer finish polish.  I get around this in two ways: I top very wet Seche Vite with a layer of the OPI DS top coat or I top Poshe with the DS Top Coat.

Let me tell you, when I first saw the DS Top Coat, I wasn't impressed.  Wherever I saw it, it was the same price as the polishes and was advertised as full of diamond dust.  I thought immediately, "Overrated!"  Then my BFF tried it on and we were instantly fascinated.  The shine just can't be beat on this top coat and it feels so so so smooth, it's pretty much a great find.  The only real problem I have is that while it dries very quickly on top, it doesn't do what Seche Vite does and bond everything from what I can tell because I get a lot of the squishy middle feeling to my polish if I use it by itself.

This is another story.  I bought Poshe because of my peeling problems with OPI and Seche Vite.  It pretty much solved them, but it wasn't as shiny to me.  I ultimately solved this problem by putting the DS Top Coat over it, but at first I was torn between what to do.  I love OPI colors and have a bit of their polish and I like to wear it but it can't peel off by the end of the day!  I tried Poshe because it's a 3-Free top coat, which I found Seche Vite is not.  SV doesn't contain Formaldehyde or DBP, but it does contain Toluene whereas Poshe does not.  I try to use it with OPI and my other 3-Free polishes, which is actually quite a few, unless I've experimented and found Seche Vite isn't a problem.

I've used nail polish thinner in both SV and Poshe to good results.  I haven't had to thin my DS Top Coat out yet, so I don't know how it will handle it.  I just have a bottle from Sally's that seems to work just fine!

Here's my last secret.  I'm not pregnant and don't intend to be, but I like to take a daily prenatal vitamin to maintain nail and hair health.  It was something that a friend mentioned doing, so I gave it a try.  For the longest time, I hated taking vitamins because they were always be honkin' pills and I couldn't swallow them without gagging.  I don't really know how I got over it, but I take my vitamins everyday now with a meal to make sure my stomach doesn't get upset!

And those are pretty much my favorite products and methods!  What methods do you swear by for healthy nails?

Building a Light Box...To Take Pictures of My Nails!

So the other night I was thinking about what to do to get better quality pictures for this blog and stumbled on an old link to building my own light box/tent.

This is how it turned out, for the most part.  Cheap but snazzy!

I took a decent sized box, nothing huge but not too small, and cut out windows in three of the four sides.

Then I covered the windows with tracing paper.

This is my pink lamp, which actually shines some pink down into my box.  It's not a big deal, but I had to take it out of our bedroom to use it, so the hubby and I went out and bought another desk lamp with a white shade.

Isn't it just lovely?

Aaaaand now to put it to use!  My next post is going to be about products with a section on nail and hand care.  One of my online gamer friends asked for it and I thought it would be a nice idea.  Stay tuned!  And check out the rest of my photos as I played with my new toy today!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Disaster Strikes Mani

Do you plan out your manicures before you paint?  I do, but with some allowance for mind-changing and bad paint jobs.  The last few times that I've had a mani disaster, I've quickly taken off the horrible polish job and resorted to a glitter explosion.

This is my glitterbomb/disco balls all over my fingers mani.  It never fails to cheer me up and distract me with its completely shiny and sparkly presence.  I put this one the other day when I completely botched a stamp mani.

I try to change it up a bit every once in a while.  This time, I used purple and blue glitters on a few fingers and I kind of love them, even if it is a little bit much!

I started with a base of China Glaze Tinsel Town and then a layer of OPI's Spark de Triomphe on all my fingers.  On my middle finger, I added a layer of Zoya's Twila and on my ring finger and thumb I did a layer of  China Glaze Marry a Millionaire.  On my pointer and pinky, I did a layer of fine silver holo glitter by Love & Beauty.  I topped them all with the big silver holo hexagon's by Love & Beauty as well.

Whew, that's a bit of glitter!

But completely and totally worth it, even knowing what I get to look forward to taking it off: Lots of soaking time!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Green Green Green!

Hello there!  This is my first official polish post and I'm super excited to show you today's mani.  I'm a fiend for green on my nails.  I don't have any particular love for it in other applications, but I do gravitate to green lacquers a lot of the time.  It happened by complete chance that my father-in-law gave me a bottle of Wet n Wild Sage in the City from their fast dry line.  I actually usually stick to the swampier greens, those ugly-pretty types of polish, like my favorite shade, Orly's It's Not Rocket Science, but when I put on this green I was actually rather surprised to find I liked it so much!

I hardly ever wear something plain though, so I threw a little green glitter gradient on top with Orly's Here Comes Trouble.

I had to use three coats to get full opacity on this polish and I did end up with a slightly damaged brush, but the formula wasn't bad.  It got a little streaky in some places because my husband wanted to go to the mall and was bugging me to finish up and I rushed the last coat.  It's from their fast dry line so it didn't get out of hand.

Super shiny!  Really love that!

This picture and the next one are closer to the true color.  The first ones were taken with flash, which sucked a little color out!

And I may have fibbed a bit about not being a huge fan of green outside of nail polish.  This is my new favorite scarf that I've been wearing everywhere lately because it's sooooo warm, though I did buy it because I have a thing for green lately!

Monday, December 12, 2011

First Post!

Welcome to the Broad Stroke, a nail polish blog run by two nail polish fans!

We're still ironing out a few kinks and getting things set up, but we just wanted to post and say hi!