My Nails Are Loving This…

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Erghhhh maintenance! If getting a bikini wax isn’t torturous enough, knowing that you’ll be back there in 6 weeks will certainly piss you off. I hate regular maintenance; which women does?! Waxing, plucking, pedicure-ing, root-ing. Ok fine – I made up a few of those words, but you catch my drift. If only I could channel my inner Beyonce and simply awake to a beautiful exterior, BUT, unfortunately, I have a multitude of grey hairs sprouting from my head and a mono brow that won’t quit.

I try to do most of my maintenance at home. Actually, that’s a lie. I only do one of them at home; which is my nails. I’m an avid gel colour fan. I’m rarely seen without a lick of paint on my nails; which can result in a pretty expensive up-keep if I was going to the salon every two weeks. Luckily, by the power of YouTube, I’ve learnt to do my own gel nails at home and I’ve invested in some pretty snazzy tools to do so.

After experimenting with various brands, I’ve now uncovered a sick obsession with OPI’s GelColor range. It’s not that easy to source in the UK, so I often scour the page of eBay to get mine. However, despite using a reputable brand, I found that my gels weren’t lasting as long as I hoped (or at least the 14 day benchmark that most gel colours suggest). I couldn’t get why. My nails are pretty healthy and I performed each step of the application meticulously, but yet somehow, my nails would always result in a chip (or two) by the end of day 3!

I took to the internet and stumbled across the OPI Bond Aid; which, in fairness, I had heard of before, but  never knew what its purpose was. After reading through many forums and discovering that I wasn’t alone in my gel colour woes, I realised that many nail artists and other at-home enthusiasts, like myself, were incorporating the OPI Bond Aid in their application process to enhance the longevity of gel nails. In fact, it was used as a nail preper. Well what the hell is a nail preper, I thought?! Clearly I was out of the loop, until now…

Nail prepers, like OPI’s Bond Aid, enable the nail plate to adhere to whatever cosmetic enhancement goes on top. Whether it’s extensions, gel colour or regular polish – the nail plate needs to be in top form in order for the enhancement to work at its full potential. OPI’s Bond Aid is a dehydrator; which balances the pH levels of the natural nail plate for optimum adhesion of artificial nail products. Acrylics, tips, wraps, gel colour and regular nail varnish can last almost twice as long if using OPI’s Bond Aid to initially prep the nail.

I picked mine up from Nail Polish Direct, for the very reasonable priced of £14.95. There’s a variation of sizes available depending on how often you wish to use it, but for a home user like myself, the 30ml version lasts a very long time.

The container itself comes in a very snazzy glass bottle; which shouldn’t make a difference if you’re not as superficial as me. The brush applicator, all be it small, actually glides on the nail plate pretty well without the need for multiple dipping. The application is pretty simple – prep your nails as you normally would (file, shape, cuticles, etc) then apply a thin coating of this solution over your bare nails. It’s almost like applying white spirit to your nails (sorry I couldn’t think of a nicer analogy), whereby the solution almost dries to a powdery/dry/matte surface. Sounds like an awful thing to do to your nails, but I assure you that no damage is being done. In fact, it’s worked so well at keeping my gel nail on that I’m not having to re-do them as often as I was which is obviously a lot healthier for my nails.

Luckily there’s no drying time, so as soon as you see your nail turn semi-matte, you’re good to go in with your nail enhancement. So far, I’ve gone as long as 2 weeks without a chip in my gels or any of that dreaded ‘lifting’ around the cuticle that you normally get with gel varnishes; which, in my eyes, is a flipping miracle!

You can pick up the OPI’s Bond Aid from Nail Polish Direct.

Workout For Your Nails | Nailtiques Formula 2

I admire women who are able to maintain perfectly manicured nails. It’s what every beauty enthusiast dreams of (that and perfectly fleeky brows). Despite applying copious amounts of industrial strength top coats, I can never keep a colour on my nails for longer than a day. My nails lack moisture, strength and flexibility – all of which contribute to a perfect set of talons. I used to put it down to the fact that I’m amazingly clumsy with my hands, constantly hitting something or clawing my way into a new online package, but in reality, I think it’s the copious amounts of dishes that I do each night (my husband can vouch for the sarcasm in that comment).

I indulged in acrylics during my late teens/early twenties. I don’t get them done much now as I can’t be bothered with the upkeep and I certainly don’t want to damage my nails further. When gel nail colours exploded onto the market, I was ecstatic. So much so that I went out and bought my own gel nail system – mostly to save myself £25 every two weeks, but also because I wanted to experiment with colours in the comfort of my own home. The love affair grew strong, and before I knew it I was painting and removing my gel colours every week – that was until my trip to Barbados.

My nails have always been prone to chipping and breakage. I banked on the notion that having gel nails meant that I could grow my nails as well as improve the strength without having to turn back to acrylics, but I was hugely mistaken! Throughout the holiday my nails became dry, soft and uncomfortably brittle. The gel colour did help in masking my peeling nails, but they did nothing for the strength. My nails were borderline painful and in the worst shape they had ever been. I knew something had to be done and done fast. It was time to bring the big guns out and invest in a nail strengthener that could whip my nails back into shape (well better shape than they were before).

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The Nailtiques Nail Protein Formula is a small bottle of heaven for those suffering with dry, brittle and splitting nails like mine. The unique blend of protein and conditioners work hard at providing immediate relief for damaged nails. The special blend of hydrolyzed keratin, calcium and gelatin bonds the nail layers together, building a strong foundation; which allows for resistance against peeling, chipping and splitting.

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There are two size options available; £12.50 for a 7ml bottle and £19.00 for 15ml. To be honest, unless you’re planning on using this treatment for a fair number of months, the 7ml version will suffice. Nailtiques is readily available at many online retailers such as Beauty Bay, Look Fantastic and Amazon, but if you’re not an online shopper (perish the thought) then you will need to search around at a few Boots stores. I got my bottle from Beauty Bay as they have been running a 30% discount on all Nailtiques products for quite some time; which was the perfect excuse to add a few more items in the bag (not that I need one).

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Like many other nail treatments available, the solution is encased in a glass bottle complete with a brush applicator. This makes it easy to brush on the formula, even when on the move. The instructions suggest to apply a thin coat daily, with or without the inclusion of a nail colour. Personally, I abstained the nail varnish as I didn’t want to taint the solution, but it is allowed if you’re worried about naked nails. The solution is to be removed after seven days with an acetone free nail varnish remover to allow for a fresh weekly batch of applications. This is to be repeated until your nails are at their desired strength. I did find that after about 3 days upon the first application, the repeated layers began to peel off. It didn’t cause any detriment to the overall treatment, but it was slightly annoying to remove then re-apply that regularly. The treatment also discoloured; which was another con in my books. I’m an eater (obviously) and any foods that had the faintest bit of food colouring in made my nails for florescent yellow – not a great look if you’re trying to improve the quality of your nails, but again, this was quickly resolved with a fresh batch of layers.

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With two months of continuous use, these are the results of the treatment. As you can see, the health of my nails has vastly improved. I’ve got about 1/4 cm growth above the tips of my fingers; which is the perfect height for me as I detest super long nails. My nails feel and look a lot stronger and I can actually bash my hands around (insert joke here) without fearing for broken nails. My little finger nails have made the greatest improvement as they were very bendy to the touch. They are now visibly stronger, much like the rest of my set. I was a little apprehensive during the first two weeks of the course as I did not see an immediate improvement. I had noticed that the peeling reduced a fair bit, but the length and strength of my nails remained the same. Nevertheless I carried on and I haven’t looked back. I do advise, for anyone looking to indulge in the treatment, to be warned that everyone’s nails are different. It may take some a couple of days to visibly notice a difference or it may take a month. Nailtiques do suggest that if the Formula 2 doesn’t provide you with your desired results then the Formula 2 Plus version is recommended. I would most certainly start off the with Formula 2 rather than going straight in with a stronger solution and allow myself a month to judge the difference. I’m very happy with the results and I now have nails I can proudly display.

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You can find the entire Nailteques range here.