By Fire Frog.
Neat Natural Nails.
As you grow older your nails thicken and develop ridges. You can buy a buffing system to smooth these ridges away, then use a buff board to bring out a gloss look.
Buffer kits (usually 3 grades of buffers) are sold in sets. Younger people should only have to lightly buff their nails, as 'shinning' them thins them and will make them softer, more breakable. This is a good first step to preparing your nails for display, as a smooth surface adheres best to the nail polish.
Note: Children do not need to buff their nails, they should have no ridges at all. If your child has what looks like 'ripples' or ridges, take them to see your doctor, as this can be one of the symptoms for several unpleasant diseases/mineral deficiencies.
Next you shape your nail. Never shape nails after your hands have been in water or you have just moisturised your hands, as this will cause splitting.
No one shape is best for all nails. It will depend on the shape of your fingers and nail beds as to which of several styles will look best. I have both flattish and curved nails on my hands, I find a pointed oval on the flattish and a rounded tip on the curved look like more of a match than doing them all the same way.
To shape nails use nail clippers to get the rough shape, then use an emery board or nail file to smooth the edges and define the shape.
A Word On Emery Boards.
Metal boards are said to shatter the nail's cohesion if scrapped back and forth, so it is recommended that you always drag them across in the same direction.
Fine sandpaper like emery boards are similar. Remember to tap clean the boards so that they do not clog up and can continue to do their jobs, the use of an old toothbrush may aid cleaning.
Avoid buying coarse boards, they are meant for fake nails only.
Do not file wet nails as they are soft and may open up like the layers of a glued together book. Once flaked this way peeling and breaking of the nail is inevitable.
The choices of shapes for the nail tip include oval, round, pointed and square. Length can be a barely there tip, full tip or claw, which is a long nail that is let grow with only the tip being shaped.
A claw will often begin to twist as it grows, one reason why people who like the look often use false nails. False nails are not as hard to replace, either, and can be painted up and then applied, so you don't have that awkward job of trying to paint left handed if you are right handed (or vice versa).
There are several considerations to take into account when deciding on your nail tips eventual shape.
Many people want to have their nails cut square, which may come from the belief that square-cut nails are stronger. This is a myth. In fact, if you shape them correctly, all nail shapes are equally as strong as each other.
If your cuticle is oval shaped at the base, the square look should work for you, but if you have a pointed, oval-ish cuticle, you may want to go with a more oval-shaped nail tip.
Long nails impede your ability to form a power grip, which is essential for most manual handling jobs. They also make very fast typing harder. And a breakage can cause a panic that requires immediate down tooling and a trip to the ladies for the emery board, glue and nylon wrap in your locker.
Shorter, rounded nail tips require constant trimming and filing to keep their shape, but are user friendly.
It is best to file your nails only when the white part of the nail - the tip - has grown1/4 inch from the nail's stress point (or 'departure line'), which is where the free edge meets the pink part of the nail plate.
If you file your nails in front of this point, so that the file is cutting into the nail-bed and down the nails side, it can weaken the nail. This area is still attached to the stabilising nail-bed, being partially moistened by it, so early detachment is not wise.
Do not file from side to side, back and forth, which can weaken the stress points of the nail's free edge. Be sure to go from corner to center in one direction, then do the other corner to the center.
Pointy nails. It doesn't take long for the tip to grind down, so you have to keep shaping them constantly. If you shape them from below the 'departure' line (where the nail leaves the nail bed) then the skin around them can toughen up and make new growth a bit painful ie like an ingrown toenail. Cool for a short term different look, but I wouldn't recommend having it for too long.
Fake nails have a few down sides to them that I thought I might mention here. Most people are not aware that you can get nasty infections occurring under permanently fixed false nails, but you can.
The environment under a fixed on nail is damp, dark and just as welcome a holiday spot for germs, fungi and bacteria as you could wish for. And salon applied nails are the worst for this, so only use a reputable, clean looking salon.
Fake nails brought off the shelf do not fit every ones nail type. I have a mix of strait and curved nails, and luckily there are both types on the market, but I would have to buy 2 packets of each to make up a set, and half would be just thrown away, which is wasteful.
Also, you have to cut your own nails down so the tips are snug against your finger, or they show.
I went to a salon once to get a ripped nail secured with a nylon patch for a big occasion. I mentioned that I didn't like false nails because they did not look natural (this was some time ago, new nail technology has come along since then). The beautician held out her hands and asked me if her nails looked fake.
To which I had to take pause, because if the were fake, why had she bothered? The nails were nasty, different lengths, showing the 'claw' tendency to curve - and curve in different directions - and the end shapes looked oddly balanced. Sure enough, they were fakes. Ick.
Pink nail polish with a pink glitter in clear varnish topcoat. If the glitter is suspended in a colored varnish it is a good idea to use a similar colour as the base coat and then put the glitter one on top.
Having the glitter only in the top coat will make it easier to remove later, as glitter forms a barrier between the varnish remover and the actual polish so what is under it wont come off at all easily.
Preparations For Painting Nails.
Beauty books say the first step is to get rid of the cuticle (the edge where the nail meets the skin and a thin skin coat can be seen clinging to the nail sometimes).
You do this by soaking your fingers and pushing the cuticle back with something called an 'orange stick'. (Hint, it isn't orange in colour. It's just this stick with a pointy end and a flattish end. It can be plastic or it can be wood. And yes, you have to pay big bucks for them. I don't know why.)
There are even little knife like things for cutting the cuticle off! This can hurt, and doesn't always look appealing, especially for those energetic souls who cut themselves along the sides with it. Plus, I've always figured the cuticle was there for a reason, why mess with it?
If a gap does occur between finger and nail at this spot from cuticle over removal then infections will soon set in, a painful proposition! So just scrub your nails with a nailbrush instead and that should do for step one.
If you have a bad cuticle problem (if it grows several millimetres out onto your nail - which may suffocate new nail growth), try asking at your chemists for a preparation that is supposed to 'loosen' the cuticle gently.
These preparations come in little bottles that look like nail varnish ones, only they are a cloudy blue or pink colour. Hint, if you are borrowing a friends nail varnish, check that you haven't grabbed a cuticle remover by mistake. Hey, I've done it! Doesn't hurt your nail any, but makes you feel like a git, and doesn't change your nail colour any either!
Buff your now dry nails using a buffing system.
Next step is to apply the nail varnish. I put one stripe down the center then place others to either side, going quite close to the edge on this first coat. Any drips on the outside of the area can be cleaned up later with a nail polish remover pen, or a cotton bud soaked in nail polish remover.
Do one set of nails, then let it dry before tackling the next set. You can accidentally drag your finished nails across your hand and ruin the job you have just completed otherwise. When both are dry (five minutes or less, depending on brand, how moist the air is and how thick you put the polish on) apply the second coat.
Note, if you are using a dark coloured polish you may wish to apply a base coat. This will prevent your nails becoming stained (they stain a nasty yellow colour!)
You have to move fast when applying the second coat, as if you linger it will seep in and 'pull' at the coat below it. So nice fairly well loaded strokes of varnish, no need to go right to the edges this time, stay a little further in, that helps with the time factor too, as you don't have to be so careful. Do one hand at a time again, and when they are both dry, remove splashes with the nail varnish remover.
Now you can place on any decals you think will look nice. Follow the instructions on the packet carefully. Decals can roll up, tear or fold over, so have lots of pre cut spares to hand. Top them with a 'light' coat of clear varnish or decal fixer to prevent rubbing off too soon.
Beware! Two coats are about all a nail can take (excluding top and base coats which should be very thin yet hard layers). Any more than three and it will not dry properly, pulling or smudging at the first opportunity. For this reason also it is a good idea not to use too thick a layer of polish on any one coat, even though you might think it would cover it better. It might, but it will probably not dry and come off too, not a good look.
You can tell if a nail is not drying if after five minutes you press a finger to it and leave a discernible fingerprint behind. This is an indicator of crap nail polish as well. <sigh>
You can not see them very well, but there are golden flower decals over the top of these pale frosted blue base coated nails. It was a subtle look, very nice.
Here I have used a silver decal. It stands out nicely against the dark blue base coat. The top coat was a clear varnish with a bit of fine gold dust mixed into it. It lasted a fairly long time, too.
Here I have used a star stencil. It looked awful and blobby, so I went round the outside free hand using a fine paintbrush and a different coloured nail polish and it turned out okay.
Stencils do tend to bleed if used with just varnish, and are intended for use with air-brushes, but you can use nail polish if you are careful. Even better to use is a water based acrylic craft paint if you put a sealing coat on it afterwards. Just dry-brush or dab a little on a sponge and sponge the colour over the stencil so it is in a nice thin layer. Remember to let the stencil dry a little before removing it.
Some people's fingernails are naturally small, and they may bite them or if they are soft they may break off before extending much of a tip. Decals will be hard to fit on these smaller nails, I would recommend buying a painting kit and trying out some small designs instead.
Painting Pictures On Nails.
You can buy kits to do this, or make up your own. The painting is done using a fine OOO paint brush or the tip of a toothpick. Most successful painted nails that I have seen use dots to build up the tiny picture. The flower pattern is easiest to do, but I still recommend practicing on your toenails first.
The paint is a water based acrylic paint, available in model and craft shops as well as beauty sections of local stores. The colours may look dull when dried, but the top sealing coat will give them a shine. You can use other nail polishes to make the pictures with, but they tend to go on too thick and not dry properly. Do not use other types of paint as they can damage your nails.
Nail paint is applied on top of a nail polish base coat. Make your pictures (anything from flowers to smiley faces, cat silhouettes and random stripe patterns) then allow them to dry. When dry apply the sealing topcoat.
Topcoats should always be applied with a light hand, so as not to smudge or rub off the patterns they are covering. Allow to dry thoroughly.
How I love rhinestones! Also studs, crystals, shapes and glitter confetti.
These add ons are glued in place with small amounts of base coat, let dry then given a final fixing layer of topcoat. Allow plenty of time for them to set before using your hands.
Because of their tiny size they are hard to pick up, so I like to lay mine out before I start, in such a manner that I can pick them up by pressing a wet finger against them and them immediately set the stone down in the glue.
Do any manual handling before applying the stones ie go to the bathroom, change clothes, get keys out of pockets etc. They are easy to strip off.
To prolong a rhinestones life glue it to the base of your nail, not the tip. If you have curved semi circle nails then you can use the tip if placed on the side.
A gold glitter on naked nails looks nice, subtle and hints at a lace pattern.
For everyday wear, a pale nail polish is best. That way if chips occur it will not be that noticeable.