Thursday, January 3, 2008

A girl's gotta paint

I live in the South, so much of the year I'm either barefoot or wearing sandals. That means my heels can become very dried out. You know know those little lines of dry skin you get back there? Hate those. But you have to pay like $70 to have someone else get rid of them for you. Hate that too.

I use to paint my fingernails often, in pretty shades of red, mauve or pink. But that was before I had kids, my own home to clean, and a job that keeps me traveling, not to mention constantly typing. I once was asked in a radio interview how I do all that I do. I replied that was simple - I just have to let some stuff slide. Don't know if that was the answer he expected but painting my fingernails has pretty much slid off my to-do list ... except for the occasional holiday, really big event, or spa day.

Painting my toenails is a whole 'nother story. Unless I am 8-9 months pregnant, my toenails will be painted. They have been since about the 7th grade. For me its just something I need - its a benchmark of sorts of how good or bad my life really is. See, no matter how bad life gets, I can always look down at my pretty painted toes and think, "At least that's still good!" Go ahead and giggle, but its true. And unlike the polish on my fingers, my toenails rarely chip since I don't wash dishes or type with them ... there are limits to my talents, people.

So here's a list of my at-home manicure and pedicure essentials with links. Starting with my hands, I shape my nails into a shortish "squoval" using a glass nail file. Have you seen these glass nail files? They never wear out or lose their grit. They can be washed with water and sanitized. And I can take them on airplanes unlike a metal file. They typically cost like $7 at Sally's Beauty Supply stores, or $14 for brands like Essie.

Next I gently exfoliate my hands with a sugar scrub and after rinsing, apply Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover gel (pictured above) to my cuticles around each finger. Then I gently push back the cuticles with a wooden cuticle stick. Then rinse well. Next, I apply a conditioning cuticle oil to my cuticles - something like Solar Oil works well. Finally, I'll just buff them a little bit unless there's an occasion requiring paint.

The key to keeping nice looking "naked" nails is to keep them moisturized. Use your Solar oil regularly before going to bed, and/or get a hand and nail cream to keep in your desk or kitchen.

For my feet, I shape nails with the glass file then soak in warm water. Next i use this stuff my sister-in-law gave me called Pedi Care Sloughing Lotion. You put a small amount onto dry feet, wait a minute, then begin massaging and the dry skin rubs off with the lotion. Kind of strange but fairly effective. To get more serious about that dry skin, you can use a simple pumice stone or buy a foot file. I have an OPI foot file, also given to me by a sister-in-law who loves spa stuff like I do. I'd like to try a microplane - anyone tried one of those?

So then I repeat the cuticle procedure with the blue gel on my toes and rinse. Next I moisturize my heels well with Curel, or emu oil for intensive repair. But I don't moisturize the toe area yet if I'm going to paint - and you know I'm going to paint. I use a clear base coat or I use Essie's Ridge Filler. This step is important to keep from staining your nails with the polish. Then two coats of color, usually OPI or Essie polishes last long. Next I use a fast dry top coat I love by Seche Vite. Very shiny! Once all has dried, I put moisturizer on my toes as well as more on my heels and slip on socks to hold in the moisture while I read or watch a relaxing movie.

Sometimes, however, I just take the easy route to smoothing my feet - I take off my shoes and walk a lot on the nearby beach, letting God's salt water and sand take care of my rough heels. Its wonderful for the feet, but murder on your polish.

For more in-depth manicure/pedicure how-to and more product recommendations from some gals that are serious about nails, check this site out. Now, can anybody offer me tips to keep my fingernail polish from chipping?


  1. A callous remover works good on heels too. I had gone to one place for a pedicure, then had to go to a Podiatrist, he said that particular place was a Chop Shop. They use those tools on your heels that look like cheese slicers. Well, from what I've learned, those should not be used. This past summer, at a spa, they used the callous remover, it has a file on one side, the other is metal w/ small holes. That is the best to use. Make sure you get the kind that you can take apart in order to clean it.
    As for nails not chipping. I don't paint my fingernails much, because, well in the winter, they don't grow. But I use Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Instant Nail Hardener and also Sally Hansen Teflon Tuff extra strength nail protector.
    Happy filing!

  2. Hi Alyce - I've heard horror stories about people getting pedicures and walking away with fungus infections.

    So I'd caution everyone to make sure their salon/spa has high ratings and sanitizes everything after each client before I'd use their services.

    That's why I like to frequent Rachel's at-home spa or God's sea-side spa. :)

  3. Okay--- a true friend would have us all over to walk on said beach--- after of course treating us all to Rachel's spa!

    We'll even tip you???

    And then you can have money to buy the Teflon Tuff stuff that Alyce suggested!!!

    Happy Day friend~

  4. Rachel,

    I don't remember if I thanked you for the books! It arrived just before Christmas. I love it. I'm reading Angela's book right now. I enjoy it very much. Of course I could only read when I sit...never mind. I will have to tell you one day...just you and me. Not here. I gave the $10 gift card to hubbie. He drinks coffee. I drink tea. I love green tea.

    Anyhow, enjoy your blog. Love that pedicure thing, even though I have no time for them these days. I'll keep it in mind for when I do have time for them.


  5. Oh, painted toes! It's a sign that my life has beauty--I go for the coral colors. I guess I need to check with Shari on the trends of colors for glorious toes. :)


  6. I agree with Lysa! A good friend would have a beach party. Should I clear my calendar??
    I love painted toes. Otherwise, they just look naked to me.

  7. Beach-walking exfoliation works for me, too! (Except it only happens for a week in the summer when I make it to Cape Ann, Massachusetts).

  8. I am in for the earlier mentioned walk on the beach!! Like Micca, I will be glad to clear my calendar.
    I agree with the toes being painted. For me it is a send of pride, accomplishment, and a little bit of okay at least one part of my body still looks good!!!


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