The very first beauty product I can remember owning was a Tinkerbell peel-off nail polish – a soft magenta with glitter. I don’t know if my mum quite realised what she’d started with that one little bottle (I suspect that if she had then I wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near it!). As soon as I was old enough to go into town on a Saturday I was all about the £1 Spectacular polishes from the market (Blue Lagoon was my true love), and by the time I was 13 I would change the colour of my nails up to 3 times a night, carrying my stash to my friends’ houses in a makeup case in case I changed my mind from rainbow glitter to yellow while we were watching Dawson’s Creek.
Fast forward 20 years and all that’s really changed is the price of the polish and the discovery of top coat which means I keep a colour for 3 days rather than 3 hours. I now have two large bags containing a rainbow of colours, and won’t venture into Shellac and the like because I know I wouldn’t want to have the same colour for all that time!
Having made this post sound like a confession of polish-aholics anonymous, I’ll get to the point. All this time painting my nails has meant that I now have a kit which has been improved over the years, so these are the nail essentials I currently won’t be without.
Glass nail file
No more scrappy emery boards which bend and need replacing all the time (though if you must use them, Mavala are the best by far), certainly no filing of nails with anything metal ever. Glass nail files are gentle, leave a lovely smooth finish and last forever. My Sephora one is still going strong after a decade, but if you’re not near a Sephora anytime soon then Boots stock a great Leighton Denny version, and I’m also quite fond of the mini ones I’ve recently discovered in TK Maxx. Make sure you have one that’s been filed to be abrasive rather than coated, as the coating will rub off after the first couple of uses.
Sephora glitter polish remover
I spotted this in Russia earlier this year and had to give it a try. It’s fantastic! Where before I wouldn’t wear glitter too often because of the faff of removing it, this changes the game entirely. It’s the same as the normal remover pots, but has a scrubby sponge in the middle which you rub your nail against to remove the glitter. Such simple genius, I love it. Sephora do now ship to the UK, or do as I do and make sure anyone going near one on their travels knows your wishlist!
Even though I stay away from getting a full gel manicure, I still love the look of a gel finish. Using a clear gel topcoat rather than a standard one adds at least a couple of days life to any polish before it chips, and leaves you with a super shiny colour. I usually use Revlon’s version (almost always on some type of multi buy so you can get some of their great gel polishes too), but there are a few others out there which I’m sure perform just as well.
Quick dry oil
I’ve recently gone back to using this again and I don’t know why I stopped! Rather than sit waving your hands around and hoping you don’t need to touch anything for the next half an hour, just pop a drop of this on each nail and you’ll be ready to go so much faster. Again, I’m using Revlon at the moment (they are my favourite drugstore brand for nails). I know some people will be reading this and wondering why I choose a separate topcoat and quick-dry product rather than something like Seche Vite – this is because I have a severe allergy to formaldehyde resin, which Seche Vite is packed full of!
L’Occitane hand cream
A lot of the time I’m using hand creams that have come as part of a set/with a magazine/as a gift with purchase, but when it comes to the one I’ll pay for it’s always L’Occitane Lavender. The scent immediately relaxes, and the cream itself sinks in immediately, leaving soft hands which aren’t greasy (so none of the not being able to pick up the phone for 10 minutes that you often get with other brands).
Mavala cuticle cream
Mavala do a lot of brilliant nailcare products, and the cuticle cream is my top pick. Tiny dabs massaged in to each nail bed before sleep really softens and makes a difference! I like to keep a tube in my bag to apply on the tube if I’ve forgotten to do it at night. The tube is small but will last for ages.
Sephora nail file – http://www.sephora.com/crystal-nail-file-P310307
Leighton Denny nail file – https://www.boots.com/en/Leighton-Denny-small-crystal-nail-file_924162/
Sephora glitter polish remover – http://www.sephora.com/instant-nail-polish-remover-for-glitter-P386179
Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy topcoat – https://www.boots.com/en/Revlon-ColorStay-Gel-Envy%E2%84%A2-Longwear-Nail-Enamel_1500755/
Revlon Liquid Quick Dry Oil – https://www.boots.com/en/Revlon-Liquid-Quick-Dry_1247711/
L’Occitane Lavender hand cream – http://uk.loccitane.com/lavender-hand-cream,83,1,29790,272372.htm
Mavala cuticle cream – http://www.feelunique.com/p/Mavala-Cuticle-Cream-15g