Saturday, August 11, 2012

Products I Love

For my upcoming giveaway, I included things I have come across and fallen in love with since joining the nail polish community. I wanted to go in depth on why I love these products before putting up the giveaway just so everyone can have a little bit of explanation about them. ;)
I am in no way a professional so, while these things may work great for me they may not work for everyone.
I am a very wordy person (just ask some of the ladies I talk to online!)so, please click "Read More" to view this entire post.

First up are my "tools". I have always used plastic or wooden cuticle sticks in the past and never really had a problem with them. I saw someone mention a metal cuticle pusher on a nail polish group and honestly, thought it would be the same as all the rest. Well I was very wrong! A metal cuticle pusher does a much better job than any of my plastic or wooden ones. You do need to use it with caution though, if you push too hard or at the wrong angle you can scrape off some of your nail. The particular one I use is a Revlon one I picked up at Walmart because I happened to see it and throw it in my cart. I know there are many brands out there though. I do still use my wooden and plastic sticks to clean up my nails for things like glitter that my clean up brush just can't seem to get off. 
Nail file wise, I think I am in a small group that does not like the crystal files. Again everyone is different, it just takes me forever to really file my nails down with these. I am an impatient person and don't want to spend all day just filing my nails. I prefer the sponge boards or buffing blocks. I picked up my sponge board file from Target and the buffing block from Sephora. While they may not last as long as a crystal file, I am ok with that as long as they get the job done!
When I first started blogging I never used any type of cuticle care. I know please don't kill me! I received Smith's Rosebud Salve in the mail and starting using it for my cuticle care routine. It worked ok, and I still use it in a pinch, but not like other products I have discovered. Sally Hansen Cuticle Eraser + Balm I use at least once a day and is by far my favorite thing to use. After removing my polish I rub some into my nails before pushing back my cuticles. This product smells very light and I like that it has a thick formula because it does wonders for my cuticles. 
Poshe AHA Cuticle Care I use right before taking any pictures. It absorbs quickly and doesn't leave my nails with an oily look. The applicator makes it super easy to apply and a little goes a long way. 
Julep Essential Cuticle Oil is a product I use less than the other 2 mentioned. It doesn't have a lot of rave reviews out there but, I love it for the smell and the roller ball applicator. Since the price of this is so high($18 a bottle!), once this bottle is gone I will most likely try to refill it with straight Vitamin E oil. This is my husband's favorite nail product though so I may have to buy another. ;)
And last but not least, basic vitamin E oil. I use this right before bed because it leaves my skin very oily but my fingers feel nice and soft in the morning. The biggest gripe I have with it is the bottle leaks so I have to store it in a baggie in my Melmer.
I have acquired a ton of base and top coats lately. But only 3 of them stick out as my favorite. Seche Rebuild is my go to base coat and treatment. In the past 2 months of using it daily, I have had to cut my nails down 6 times! Before using it I had a major problem with my nails peeling and being slow growing. I tried many products that would make my nails grow like weeds but they would still be riddled with peels.  And then I picked up Rebuild and starting using it as directed (every 4 days) and my nails stopped peeling but took forever to grow. I lived with the fact I finally had my peeling problem under control. Once I started blogging and changing my polish every day or ever other day, using Rebuild under every manicure, my nails started growing like crazy! I do sometimes switch things up and use OPI Nail Envy but I haven't tested this long term and try to stick with Rebuild because I know it works.
My two favorite top coats are Seche Vite and Hong Kong Girl. Seche Vite is pretty well known and loved in the polish community. I love that it helps dry my polish because I'm impatient! I also love that it leaves a nice hard,shiny coat on top of my nails. There are downsides to Seche Vite though, if you apply Seche Vite to dry polish it can cause your polish to peel, it will need thinner (Seche Restore) once you are about half way through a bottle, it can cause your polish to "shrink" (though if you wrap your tips this is less likely to happen) and it has a strong smell. This is where Hong Kong Girl comes in. Hong Kong Girl has a lot of the benefits of Seche Vite with less of the drawbacks. My bottle has yet to need any thinner, I can apply it to my dry nails with no problem and haven't had a problem with any "shrinkage" (though I've rarely had this problem with Seche Vite). The only drawbacks with Hong Kong Girl for me have been it doesn't dry as quickly as Seche Vite and personally I think the smell is worse than Seche Vite. You win some and you loose some, so that' why I switch between the two. 
Removal/clean up time! For removing my polish I go with you basic drug store polish remover. I use a pump bottle I got from Sally's because I find it easier and safer to use when I have my 2 year old son running around. The pump bottles are great for mixing your own DIY Zoya Remove + as well, I have done it before and it works great! I literally have 30-40 bottles of remover I got for free from Walgreens not too long ago and just hate to see it go to waste so I will stick with it till I run out and then start making my own. I can't attest to how well the DIY version holds up to Zoya Remove + since I've never used the Zoya kind but, I can say from experience it didn't dry out my nails like straight acetone does. You can find the recipe to make your own here, along with ton of other great information.
For removing tough glitters I use the "foil method". This is easily done by cutting up squares of tin foil (enough to wrap over and around your nail) and placing them over a cotton ball dipped in remover. Wait about 5-10 minutes and slide off the foil and cotton ball together and all the glitter will follow along with it. You may have a few pieces of glitter stuck behind but another swipe with a cotton ball and remover and it's easier cleanup than scrubbing on your nails forever and using an insane amount of cotton balls. I don't use whole cotton balls with the foil method rather, I unwind a cotton balls and use pieces of it. I go through a lot of cotton balls so this helps me not use up a whole package in a week.
Cleaning up my nails after polishing them, I use an ELF concealer brush, you can find these at Walmart or Target and they cost $1. I dip the brush into straight acetone, dab off a little on a towel and swipe along my nail to clean up any unwanted polish. The brush lasts me about 2-3 months and for $1 you really can't beat that. If you do get acetone on the brush handle the paint will melt off, fair warning.
The towel I use to dab my brush on or sometimes use to remove polish is really a Gerber pre fold cloth diaper. No seriously! It's never been used as a diaper so there is no yuck factor involved. I prefer using these (and I love using them to clean up around my house) because I can throw them in the washing machine to clean up them and re use them a ton of times and be a little "greener" in doing so. Some of the polish does stick around on the cloth but it doesn't bother me. If you are more of a disposable person, a great product called Soft Landings Towels is out there. Their larger table towels are similar to the cloth I use, ok they are softer ;), but can be thrown away when they start to show a lot of wear and tear. You can request a sample from them here.
Now for a random category. These are other products I use a lot so I felt they needed to be included. I used to use Seche Restore for thinning all of my polish because for me, it makes the polish last longer and makes it shinier than it was before. I know this makes the polish not be "big 3 free" anymore but I'm ok with that.  It got expensive to go through Seche Restore quickly so, I picked up a bottle of Beauty Secrets thinner at Sally Beauty Supply. It works to thin the polish but doesn't give it the same properties as Seche Restore does. I prefer using the dropper that came with Restore to use either thinners because it is easier to add to polish.
My nails don't get stained that often but when they do I prefer either whiteners in the picture. I didn't like the ASP Whitening Paste when I first bought it but, after playing around with it more I found if I didn't water the paste down a lot and let it sit on my nails for 5-10 minutes it does work. I like the brush it comes with too for cleaning up my nails after removing my polish. If I have time to sit down and soak my nails Bubble White works just as great. And I like to watch the bubbling action that happens with it. ;)
Rubber bands! If you've ever had a polish that won't open don't gnaw into it! Simply wrap a rubber band around the cap and with a little bit of strength it should twist off. You can also use those rubber can openers but for me, rubber bands are easier to store in my Melmer.

And that wraps up this post, if you read this whole thing yay! I love finding out about new nail products or techniques to try even if it isn't polish itself. :) If you have any questions about where to find some of these products (I think I covered most of them in the post but may have missed some) just ask!
Not all of these products will be included in the upcoming giveaway but some things will be. :)

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