I have received a few requests for how to's about my nail care. I am flattered. Incredibly. :D And I am happy to share. If any tips help, that is great. :D :D These aren't my own ideas, I have tried a lot of things I have read and heard over the years until I finally landed on a routine that works well for me. As with any beauty related topic, YMMV. ;)
First of all, I have delicate, somewhat thin nails that can break pretty easily. And, they will peel like a banana, given half a chance. I have always longed for flexible, strong nails that I could grow long and wear polish or rock them natural. Isn't going to happen, so I make the best of what I do have. :D
I think that a good file is really important. I use a glass file; it is, in my opinion superior to any other kind of file. Emery boards, metal and diamond dusted files are way too rough on my nails, tear and make the edges rough and pone to snagging, tearing, breaking and peeling. A glass file takes the nail down smoothly and swiftly but doesn't wreak havoc at the same time. I had an OPI crystal file that I loved more then my first born (well, not really... ;) lol) and one day it flew from it's protective tube and landed down in the vent in my fireplace, never to be found. I am still mourning the loss of that file. I now use a Swissco glass file that I bought at Sally. It is a nice file and will do until I can get another OPI file. :D
I file my nails into a square shape. I feel that it lends strength to my nail structure and I like the look. A more rounded shape would probably be better for my hands, I have "capable" hands lol and the oval would probably be more flattering. But I just don't like that shape for me. I use my file and gently round off the corners of my squared off nails. That way I don't have sharp corners scratching me and others, catching on fabrics and tearing and breaking.
I maintain my nail length just peeking past the ends of my fingers. I do a lot of housework and am fooling around on my computer all the time and this is a good length for me. It looks as if I have some length but I don't have to worry about them too much. Also, if I break one and have to file them all down to match (I have to have all my nails about the same length... it's a "thing" with me lol) it isn't so devastating to lose that little bit of length.
I keep my nails polished at all times. If I have bare nails and just look at them funny, they will chip, break and peel like crazy. So, my nails are only bare for the amount of time it takes to go from removal of the old polish to getting my fresh coats of base coat on them. A few minutes, tops. lol I have found that polishing my free edges with every layer of base, colour and top coat I put all over my nails helps to further protect my tips, keeps water out and helps reduce tip wear and chipping. My polish lasts longer than if I just smoothed my polish on the nail plates, alone.
One thing I learned from the wonderful gal who used to do my nails years ago is that oil or grease is the natural enemy of polish. After I remove my old polish and file my nails, if need be and take care of my cuticles (give them a quick push back, if needed), I wash my hands well in dish washing liquid then dry on a lint free cloth and then spray them with rubbing alcohol and blot them dry, then without touching them or letting them contact any other surface, I apply my base coat. That way I am painting nails that are as clean as possible to help my mani last as long as possible. I have tried a ton of different base coats and I finally discovered China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat. It is the base coat that works best for me. Everyone seems to have a base that works best for them, just try different brands until you find your HG. I love Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat. It really does dry a mani fast and gives a lovely, glossy shine that I love.
My cuticles aren't too difficult to care for. I don't use cuticle remover, tho it probably couldn't hurt, once in a while. Maybe some time I will try it. Right now, usually right after I shower, when my cuticles are soft and pliable, I just gently push them back. Doing that regularly seems to keep them in place pretty nicely and prevent them from growing up over my nail plate and sticking and being a pain. After I do my polish, once it is dry enough I oil my cuticles with plain jojoba oil then apply lots of lotion to counteract the dryness from remover and the pure acetone I use for post polish clean up.
And... I think that is about it. :) It isn't really a lot. I tend to write wordy and I honestly don't spend huge bags of time on my nails. Now that I have them in the shape I like, I don't have to file too often and just do a little bit to finesse the shape if needed and shorten them a little or smooth any rough or snaggy spots or chips, if need be. It is polishing and clean up that takes the most time in my nail care routine. But I don't mind taking that time. It is good to just have that "me time" and pamper myself a little. And, even if I am running around the house in baggy cleaning the house clothes with no makeup on and my hair clipped up willy-nilly I still have pretty, shiny nails. :D