Last updated 18/05/13
I'm a terrible cuticle picker! If there is the slightest bit of polish on my cuticles I will start to pick at it, then if I find any dry skin I find myself absent mindedly running other nails over area and picking at that. To counteract this I try to avoid polish there, especially base or top coat and to put lots of moisture into the area, using OPI Avoplex Oil at every opportunity. At work I keep a tub of hand cream on my desk and constantly rub it into my nail area along with one of those Avoplex pen things.
Cuticle removal for me is occasionally Sally Hansen cuticle remover gel as I find this also lifts staining. Occasionally I use nippers on a stray, rough, sticky up bit of skin to stop me picking it but in the main I use Poshe AHA Cuticle cream a couple of times a week as a moisturiser and at least once a week I apply this generously, leave 5 mins then push back with a hoof stick to really clean up. Apart from this and oil I try to leave them alone.
I don't have any favoured brand of handcream, cheap 89p Aldi hand cream is one of the best I have used as it contains glycerine and this seems to ease my eczema prone fingers. In the winter my hands can be prone to cracking and chapping, so hopefully the idea of posting photos on the world wide web will make me take extra care to keep them moist and in nice condition.
My preferred treatment is OPI Original Nail Envy, it works well for me, it always has. I stick with Original, I tried a maintenence one when they came oit, but it did my nails no good at all. My preferred top coat is Seche Vite. Mainly as I find it drys rock hard and quickly, and I just don't have time to sit about waiting!! I have tried Poshe top coat but I haven't been particularly keen on it though as it isn't as quick as Seche.
Summer 2011 my eczema flared up due to stress after bereavement and I would wake in the night scratching and breaking my skin. Then I damaged the nails on my ring finger on my right hand and the thumb on my left hand. The ring finger I bent back very badly, very frequently. I only needed to think about going in the cupboard and I'd catch the nail on something! The nailbed was damaged when I badly broke my left thumb and nail became loose. Both of these have now mended as I kept my nails as nubbins, very short and managed to stop damaging them until....
I crushed the tip of my middle finger on my left hand in May 2012 breaking the bone in the very last part of my finger. The bone has been mending and most of the bruising has faded, however the nail was damaged and had grow through, I was lucky not to lose the nail!
As a result initially of eczema and subsequently of damage to nails I have been kept my nails as short as they can go, no free edge at all, so my early photos reflect this.
Since those early days I have managed to grow my nails into a squarer shape, I am probably breaking a cardinal rule for many people by using clippers! I clip them straight and then file the corners and the edge to seal. My current length is probably as long as my nail bed allows, any longer doesn't really suit me. Since changing the shape I have been fascinated by my older pics as I hadn't realised how rounded my nails were!!
My nail polish application is far from perfect, but it has improved greatly from the early days of my blog.
When posting some swatches last year I didn't want to apply my Nail Envy only to remove it 30seconds later so I grabbed the closest clear polish I had and for me a new technique was born!! The closest bottle on hand was Rimmel's matte top coat. I noticed that the polishes all applied like butter over this, there was no flooded cuticles and the nail base seemed perfect.
Since October 2012 I have been using Nail Envy as my base, the first thing in contact with my nails is always this, then I apply the matte polish. Once all my nails look matte I then apply my polish. I start about 4mm from base of nail, push the polish in to there and try to get a decent shape at bottom of my nail to avoid any "clean up" from cuticles. The matte base seems to grip the brush better and I'm less likely to slip and flood my cuticles. I always keep my thinnest dotting tool on hand, it is basically just a point, if I get an uneven bottom line I use this immediately to (lightly) drag around the bottom of the nail and get the shape I wanted. I then paint the sides of the nail, and fill in the middle last. It seems to work for me. By keeping that dotting tool on hand I also have a way to scratch my nose, forehead, scalp, back whatever decides to itch insanely the moment I have applied my polish!!
I did worry that the matte stuff may dry my nails or cause them to break, but after eight months they are still fine!
Removal for me involves acetone polish remover, 99p stuff from the local Co-Op shop which I tend to pick up on way home from work if I have run out. It seems pretty good. For glitters I have tried PVA base, but sometimes find it doesn't lift easily and worry about breaking my nails doing this, so for now I am sticking to the foil technique, although I find the acetone makes my fingers burn a little as I have sensitive skin. I have recently ordered piCture pOlish Revolution base, hopefully this solves everything.
I used to be baaaaaad and pick my nail polish off. I have tried to stop myself doing this, and my nails seem to have improved. Stopping picking my polish and my cuticles all seem to have coincided with the matte polish base and better application.
If I do a gradient or a water marble I use PVA glue as a skin barrier, then peel off any polish, I have to be careful around the edge of my nail as once I also peeled off my freshly done nail!! I really don't like taping up my fingers, although I did once try surgical tape and it seemed so much better than normal tape, more flexible.
Photography/Where I Work
Through my blog my photography has evolved and will continue to evolve! When I started out I was happy using my mobile to take pictures, it has an 8mp camera and as it's Android the pictures uploaded to a Picasa album for me to edit and post to my blog. Great stuff. I grabbed pictures where I could, trying to make sure the background wasn't a big distraction and the lighting seemed ok. Then I moved onto using folded paper to act as a temporary light box, using my Android tablet as I had better white balance options, also 8mp camera and again it uploaded any photos instantly to Picasa.
Then I decided to make a more permanent light box structure, chopping up a cardboard box and lining it with white printer paper. Just as a one off I tried taking some pictures using a compact camera, it was only 6mp so surely couldn't be as good as my tablet... well they were crisper and clearer and my fingers looked the colour they are, not lobster red. I can link a camera to my tablet and upload the pictures quickly.
The second generation camera / lightbox came when we got a 16mp camera with fab optical zoom, but a more fiddly white balance which I am still figuring out. I also got a proper fold up light box from a seller on Amazon which came with two lights.
As for where I work, I have commandeered the breakfast bar at home! It gives me a table to work at and keeps me close to the family at the same time!
I tend to change my nails daily (at a push I will leave it 48hrs) so wear time on a polish isn't something I tend to comment on. If I do comment, it must have been a terrible polish and not worn well at all.
I store my polishes in an ikea helmer. At present I have only the top three drawers in use for polish. Polishes are kept together by brand. I have all my polishes swatched on nail polish swatch sticks and they are kept in colour order. I find the swatch sticks a great way of picking say three colours for a manicure which really "work" but otherwise I may not have combined in the bottle.