I received a request to outline my nail painting method and how to care for nails. It took me a bit to get to but here you go!
Step 1 - Remove Cuticles
Fist, lets review nail anatomy. Most people think the cuticle is the flap of skin surrounding the nail. I thought this too for the longest time, but that is not true. That flap of skin is called the eponychium and should NEVER be removed. The eponychium is important as it keeps bacteria from getting in. The true cuticle is on the nail itself in front of the eponychium and can be difficult to see. This is what we want to remove since the true cuticle can drag down over the length of the nail, causing rough or poor adherence of the nail polish.
So, how do we remove the cuticle now that we know what it is? I use a product called Cuticle Away. You can purchase it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cuticle-Away-A-I-I-436709-1-oz/dp/B000EVL3CY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1335463311&sr=8-2), however, I picked my bottle up at CVS.
First you place a drop on each nail. Try not to touch the tip of the bottle to the nail. That way you avoid adding bacteria to the bottle
Then I used the included orange stick to spread the cuticle remover all over the nail. Since this is the first time I'm removing the cuticle, I have to cover the whole nail because the cuticle could have been dragged down the length of the nail as it grew. In repeat applications, you would only need to do the zone of new growth. Then you let the cuticle remover sit for 45 seconds.
After the 45 seconds are over, you take the orange wood stick and gently scrape the nail to remove the cuticle. You will see gunky looking stuff coming off, that is the cuticle. Once you have done all your fingers, rinse them off with water and repeat for the other hand. Here is a link to a video showing exactly how this process is done.
Cuticle Removal - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttxRWkbwGIg
Step 2 - Paint the Nails!
Now onto the fun part! Here's my little trick, to help with easy clean-up cover the skin around the nail with lotion. To do this, I dip a q-tip in my hand lotion and put a decent layer around my nail. You can see it globbed up a bit on my pinky finger below.
Then, take another q-tip dipped in nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and swipe over the nail to remove any lotion on the nail. I always use a base coat before applying any color to my nails. Why? It helps the polish stick better and it helps keep your nails from being discolored. I currently use Orly Top 2 Bottom, which I picked up at CVS as well.
Now time for color! I used Zoya Anastasia - a deep purplish-pink with a strong gold transition. I use a 3 stroke method. I start by placing a dot of polish at the base of the nail. I then spread it up one side of the nail, then the other, and finally the center of the nail. This technique minimizes the appearance of brush strokes in the dried polish.
Lacquerized has a great post showing this method - http://www.lacquerized.com/2010/05/how-to-how-i-paint-my-nails.html
Then I follow up with a coat of topcoat. For this I use Orly Top 2 Bottom again since it is a dual purpose polish.
Step 3 - Clean-Up
Now to make that mani look perfect. Remember that lotion we put on earlier? Well now we just wipe it off! Any nail polish on the skin should peel right off with lotion. Easy as pie! However, I forgot to take a picture of this cleaned up mani. Oops :( If there is any polish left on the skin that doesn't come off with the lotion, you can dip a q-tip in some nail polish remover and carefully wipe the polish away.
Step 4 - Moisturize
Last but not least we want to moisturize. You can buy all types of cuticle oils and moisturizers, but what I've found that works the best is basic olive oil. All you have to do is put a drop on the eponychium (hooray for learning!) and gently rub it in. That's it! Now you have a prefect pretty manicure in 4 steps!