Sunday, November 13th, 2011

By Edith (Edie) Bryan, Nail Care Expert

Edie is 27-years old and hails from the beautiful country that is Wales, in the UK. She’s an esthetician and has been trained in all aspects of beauty, from waxing to skincare, but she specializes in nails. She discovered her talent for nails at 17 and worked as a junior technician. In 2005, she started her own business running a nail salon in her home town. She found creating beautiful nails was the perfect way to combine her natural creativity and her obsession with fashion and beauty into one. Check out her blog Touch Beauty and follow her on Twitter!

5 Must-Have Products for Beautiful Nails

You don’t need an extensive kit to achieve healthy, strong and beautiful nails. Here are my five must-have nail care products and how to use them for optimum results…

CND Super Shiney High Gloss Top Coat | I have used this top coat religiously for over 7 years! I love it simply because it is super-fast drying, long-wearing. and has an incredibly high-gloss finish. I have a big 2.3oz pro-size bottle at home, which I have had for a couple of years, and it is just as great now as when I bought it. It gives glass-like shine, keeps my nails strong, and my polish looking fresh. I have tried many other brands in my time as a nail tech, but this is most definitely the best I have used. It has a slight purple tint and UV filters to stop yellowing. It is formaldehyde-, toluene- and DBP-free (no nasties), scratch-resistant and super tough.

OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil | There are a multitude of cuticle oils on the market, and all of them are designed to do exactly the same thing. OPI Avoplex is my favourite because it has a slightly thicker viscosity than the others I have tried, and it has given me the best results. Rich in avocado oil and high quality antioxidants, it nourishes nails and conditions the cuticle area. Cuticle oils penetrate the layers of the nail, restoring moisture and natural lipids. Use them sparingly – a little goes a long way. Apply at night before you go to bed for maximum benefit. A little dab may be used to perk up natural nails before a night out, or buffed gently into the nail for super glossy finish on natural nails. If you wear nail enhancements – cuticle oils won’t cause lifting, in fact they will help keep your enhancements flexible and strong, so it is worth picking some up next time you visit the salon.

CND Glossing Buffer | A glossing buffer is an essential addition to any Nailista’s kit. By buffing your nails gently, you increase the blood flow to your fingertips – this promotes healthy nail growth and gives your nail bed a much pinker appearance. By using the different sides of the buffer in order, you can achieve smooth natural nails, so your nail polish will sit better, and it is also less likely to stain.

Mavala Cuticle Remover | Some type of cuticle remover is a must for every nail kit; dry and overgrown cuticles instantly ruin the appearance of the hands. These products soften and remove dead cells from the nail plate. They are not designed to be used all that frequently, but every 10-14 days, it is worth giving your cuticles a real clean up, and then maintain them with your cuticle oil. Cuticle removers must always be rinsed off with soap and water, or else they will leave a residue on the nails, which will mess up your polish.

Stainless Steel Cuticle Pushie or Plastic Hoof Stick | I recommend that for doing any cuticle work – you use a pushie or hoof stick. Orange sticks are a big no-no for me, as they aren’t very effective, and tend to be unhygienic. Metal or plastic cuticle pushers can be cleaned and re-used, so they are a much better investment, as well as more effective and comfortable to use. If you manicure your nails regularly and are confident with cuticle care, go for a stainless steel one.  If you are a newbie to caring for cuticles, go for a rubber tipped hoof stick, until you have mastered the technique.

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25 thoughts on “5 Must-Have Products for Beautiful Nails

  1. Hiromi

    what’s your opinion on the famous seche vite, and how does it compare to cnd’s top coat? i love the effect sv gives me, but i can’t stand the smell and how it gets all thick and stringy just half-way through the bottle!

    • Seche Vite is undeniably a good top coat to have in your kit – especially if you like adding decals or jewels, thanks to that thick viscosity. It does have a tendency to go thick and gloopy though, sometimes peels, and can cause shrinkage to the polish colour underneath (speed is the key to avoiding this – get it on while the polish is still wet).

      CND is a great all rounder, and I have had no problem with any thickening, stringyness, shrinkage or peeling :-)

  2. Ginnia

    What’s your favorite place to order your nail supplies?

    • I am in the UK – and have various suppliers I like. I buy all my CND products direct from their UK distributor (Sweet Squared) so I know they are the real deal, and have been stored correctly. Other nail supplies – I have even purchased from eBay before now, a great place to get nail art items and tools!

  3. Dini

    I know so little about caring for my nails and had no idea where to start. Thanks for the tips and the must haves! :)

  4. Bev P

    Hi Edie!

    Really interesting post! My nail varnish ALWAYS chips off after a day or so – such a pain as I don’t have a lot of time to spend on my poor nails. Would that Super Shiney top coat stop my polish chipping?

    Also – do you know of any products that make the free tip of the nail white, other than getting a French manicure? 😉 i have pretty good nails, but they are always spoiled by the translucent/greyish free edge :(

    Cheers! x

    • If you are prone to chipping – here are a few tips:

      Firstly, clean off your nails with polish remover before applying anything, or your polish/base coat can’t adhere to the nail plate as well as it should.

      Invest in a rubberised base coat, these help the polish grip and aren’t as prone to flaking off – Orly Bonder is worth a try.

      Make sure you seal in the edges of the nail with polish AND top coat. Just swipe your brush along the free edge after applying product to the nail, and it should help prevent tip wear.

      As for Super Shiney – I don’t find chipping a problem, but BASE COAT is the key product to prevent chipping. If you follow the tips I listed, Super Shiney should definitely keep your polish looking fresh for longer though.

      Hope that helps!

    • Oh and I forgot….There is a product called Bubble White – which is an effervescent nail cleaner/whitener. Works for some people, not for others. It is not expensive – so worth trying out!

  5. Great and extremely helpful article.

  6. Sarah

    Love this review!! What is your opinion of the no chip manicures such as Shellac?

    • Mixed opinions! I change my polish colours too often, so I would be really bored after 2 weeks of one colour! Great product though, does exactly what it promises (as long as the technician does a good job). Stays very glossy which is nice!

    • Mixed opinions! I personally like to change my polish colours frequently, so I would be really bored after 2 weeks of one colour! Great product though, does exactly what it promises (as long as the technician does a good job). Stays very glossy, which is nice!

  7. Atea

    I’m surprised to see you say Super Shiney is fast drying, I thought Speedey was supposed to be CND’s fast drying top coat?
    I’ve never tried CND products but I’m really looking forward to. I can’t do without a really fast drying top coat though. I’ve tried Seche Vite, China Glaze Fast Forward, Nubar Diamont and Mavala Mavadry. My fave so far is still SV, but I haven’t really put CG to the test.
    When you say Super Shiney is fast drying, do you mean super fast like the ones I mentioned above or just regular top coat fast?
    I know regular top coats tend to be more long-lasting but I really hate having to wait for my polish to dry, it takes forever and since I change color very often it’s really not worth it.

    • Katie

      Atea, have you ever tried Lippmann’s Addicted to Speed topcoat? Seriously the fastest I have ever used. Way faster than SV, you can’t really play with in once you lay down on the nail it dries that fast!

      • Altea

        Lol, I just noticed I had mispelled my nickname XD damn autocorrect.
        I wouldn’t know where to find Lippmann here in Italy, but I’ll keep it in mind, thank you!

    • You are absolutely right when you say the regular, non ‘fast-drying’ top coats offer more protection and better wear time. That is why the Super Shiney is my preferred product. Speedey is much thinner, and doesn’t wear as well.

      I find the dry time for Super Shiney is around the same as Seche Vite – although it does depend on the polish (and how many coats) too. CND’s own polishes are slower drying than most in my experience.

      Quick dry drops are quite good in my opinion, have you tried any? I know they don’t get a lot of love generally, but if you are a ‘base coat, 2 coats of polish, top coat’ person like me, and don’t apply layers upon layers of colour, they do work well!

      • Altea

        Mhh, I tend to layer up I’m afraid. I have very thin, irregular-plated nails (my dermatologist called it “nail pitting”), so the extra layer helps me even out the surface. That must be why I’m not bothered by the thickness of Seche Vite (except for the fact that you can’t possibly use a whole bottle without thinner, of course).

        I’ve tried OPI’s quick dry drops, but I wasn’t satisfied at all. I kept the bottle tightly closed in its box, stored in a drawer inside my closet, no heat sources etc, yet within a few months the product had completely evaporated. I only used it a couple times :(

        Around the same dry time as Seche Vite sounds great anyway! I’m definitely gonna try it, thank you!

  8. Great Post! I will defiantly try some of the products!

  9. Liz

    Do you have any tips for getting blue stained nails back to normal? lol

  10. Nina

    i havent tried this top coat, or seche vite, but i just recently started using Butter London’s (quick dry) Top coat… great stuff!!