I love nail polish, and I really enjoy doing my own nails. There’s something about it that just feels so pampering to me. Mimi recently shared that she is just getting into doing her own nails, so I thought I’d share my nail polish basics here – these are MUST-HAVE products that I use every time I do my nails.
Base coat – I know some people skip this step, but I firmly believe this step is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Not only does a base coat shield your nails against the nail polish (so that dark colors don’t stain your nails), but it can also serve to hydrate/strengthen your nails, if you pick such a formula. Also, it helps to prep your nail surface to be smoother and allow the nail polish to be applied more evenly. To me, it’s the same concept as painting your walls – you need a primer before the paint.
I’ve tried Zoya Anchor Base Coat, Essie Sensitivity Base Coat, and Spa Ritual Lacquer Lock Colorstay Basecoat, and I find them all just to be ok – nothing great. This past winter, I noticed that the Zoya Anchor was really drying out my nails and causing them to peel, so I got Deborah Lippmann Rehydrating Base Coat – it is the BEST base coat I have ever used. It does not cause my nails to peel, and it allows the color to go on very smoothly (unlike the Spa Ritual one I used, which makes the colors go on a bit streaky). At $18, it is extremely pricey, but it is THE BEST. I HIGHLY recommend.
Top coat – A shiny top coat to put on top of your nail polish is a must! I used to love Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat, but because it has Toluene, a chemical that can be harmful (here’s a great blog post discussing it), I’ve decided that I can stand to minimize risk. I currently have Sally Hansen Insta-dry and Sally Hansen Mega Shine, and I like Insta-dry better. There is less shrinkage (when the top coat pulls the nail color away from the edge of the nail), and it dries super quickly. Also, I find the Mega Shine has a stronger smell, which I do not like.
Nail polish remover – I am a strong proponent of getting a good polish remover. I used to use whatever polish remover was available at the drugstore, but then in grad school, my friend Amy came over to my apartment for a mini mani session and she brought over Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Polish Remover. I was shocked that at how effective it was at removing polish, it didn’t smell too strongly, AND it didn’t leave my nails super dry afterwards. I quickly went out and got my own bottle. I really liked it and repurchased it twice, but then I decided to try out Sephora Dissolving Polish Remover (discontinued), which was amazing too. I now use the popular Zoya Polish Remover, which has a convenient pump top. I think I first read about it on temptalia.
Remover pads – Some cotton pads leave behind lint and sort of fray when I’m removing polish. I heard Michele (michele1218 on Youtube) mention the Handsdown Ultra Nail and Cosmetic Pads, and I had to try them. These pads have a little flap that you lift up to protect your nail polish on hands when you’re removing polish. It’s lint-free and easily takes off polish. 1 pad good for both hands or both feet. Not totally necessary, but I still highly recommend because it makes the polish removal process really painless.
What are your nail polish essentials??