Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Clean-up time? Never fear! Quick and Easy Polish Removal and Nail Clean-up!

Hello readers!... and HAPPY HUMP DAY!!! It has been mentioned to me in the last week or so that because I am not "more experienced" I should not be giving how-to advice, or doing informational posts. Let me start off by saying that I am not an "expert", nor have I been to beauty school to earn my license as a Nail Technician. What I do have is knowledge in what works for me. I thought maybe if it worked for me, it might help other newbies in the polish world too. With that being said, I know there are a ton of informational and how-to posts out there for nail polish. I encourage each and every one of you to take a look around at them and find what also will work best for you. There is no one solution to it all, so keep that in mind. This is how I found my methods, and I combined what I learned from different places such as nail groups, blog posts, and forums.

So, I hear many ladies complaining that they absolutely HATE polish removal and prep. Some even commented that it takes them forever, thus the lack of love for the procedure. I am here to tell you there is some simple solutions.

 This is coming from someone who had nails like this:
November 2012
To nails that look like this in a years time. This was after 39 years of chewing and biting my nails and cuticles. I have used the same products and regimen for the last year, and they are working!
 November 2013
Let's start with polish removal. You cannot prep your nails for a new manicure without taking off what you already have on. My FAVORITE method is the using the non-acetone sponge tubs. These tubs are also great if you are painting your nails, mess one up, and need to start over with just one nail. You can insert your finger and not risk getting remover on the other freshly painted nails!
All you have to do is simply stick your fingers in the sponge insert, and do a little twisting around of your finger. This method even works for glitter removal. I Usually insert my glitter nail for about 30 seconds and soak first then a few twists and most of the glitter is removed.  
This method for this particular mani, complete with Seche topcoat, took me about 1 minute to remove the polish from these 3 fingers. The bonus is, no cotton ball hairs or fuzz from cosmetic rounds left on the nails edges or on the nail bed.
Complete removal in about a minute and a half to a minute. Not too shabby?
Now that we know polish removal doesn't have to take so long, let's talk about maintenance to maintain clean nails. I do regular maintenance approximately twice a week, sometimes only once if I wear a mani for a longer period of time. (Like THAT ever happens! LOL!) This maintenance will help keep your nails whiter, and easier to "prep" for your new mani.
First, after you remove your next bout of polish, turn your hand over and look under your free edge and all that marvelous polish from wrapping your tips. ...Oh, and let's not forget the crud that just gets stuck under your nails. Food, dead skin from scratching, etc.. Mine here have not been done in about six days. Even though I use a nail brush when washing my hands, there are still remnants left there by the time I need to do my weekly maintenance.

This next step once a week or more really does help me keep the undersides of my nails clean.
Two important tools for my regimen is a wide paint brush and a toothbrush. A nail brush also works, but I like to focus on one nail at a time.  
First I use a tooth brush to scrub under my nails. I also will use the toothbrush to scrub my nail beds and around the outer edge of my nails to remove any polish remnants.
Then, I dip the wide brush into acetone letting the brush stay wet, I do not wipe the side of the dish to remove excess.
And the wipe away what is left under there with the brush. Total time for me, about three minutes to do the undersides of my nails.
My favorite product for prep and clean up that I use once to twice a week is Blue Cross Cuticle Remover from Sally's. As you can see from the photo it is a HUGE bottle. I have had this bottle since February of 2012, and I still have that much left in the bottle. To use this, I drop a drop or two onto my nail bed near the cuticle. I let it soak on for about 15-20 seconds.
Then, using the angled end of the orange stick, I rub away the dead cuticle and skin from the base of my nail bed, and along the edges o the sides of my nail.
Then, I place a drop behind the nail and then use the orange sticks angled end (flat side against the finger and not the nail) in there and do a little clean out of more hidden gunk. (You may notice nippers in the background, and I want to make it clear that I DO NOT nip my cuticles or nails. They are used for trimming my clean up brushes.)
Once complete, I use a good sugar scrub or my favorite product from Julep, the Glycolic Hand Scrub, to wash my hands thoroughly in warm water. This removes the Blue Cross, removes any dead skin on my hands, and leave my hands so soft and sooth. As you can see from my YUMMY grilled cheese spatulas, I leave the products in my kitchen y my sink. This part of the maintenance was what takes the longest, but you don't have to do it every day or after every mani. For this part of the procedure, it takes me about 5-10 minutes depending on if the idiot box is on and I am half paying attention. When I first started doing this step, it took me about 15 minutes.
As you can see from the photo below, the undersides of my nails are now nice and clean!
Here is my finished weekly (sometimes twice a week) finished product. It does make a huge difference. What is nice, is that it is not necessary after every manicure. If I find tat after I take my polish off that I still have some remnants of polish around my cuticles, or that they look dingy, I usually use the toothbrush to clean up any extra polish left behind, then I repolish.
After I complete all the above steps, I use cuticle oil and lotion BEFORE I polish (unless I am in a hurry) Then I use the wide brush shown above to swipe each nail bed with acetone or alcohol so my base coat will still adhere to the nail. My favorite oil is Bliss Kiss Pure Nail Oil, and that is the one I use everyday and on maintenance day. I have several other balms and oils that I will alternate throughout the day.
What do you think? Do you have a weekly regimen or procedure you do to your nails? Do you have prep? Do you find any of this helpful at all? Let me know!!! I am working on a second part to this involving clean up brushes and procedure. So be sure to stay tuned!
Until next time~


  1. I love this post, and your water marble polish testing posts. I am always drawn to the "How I Do It" posts by bloggers because I always find little tips and tricks others use that I could implement into my nail care and polishing methods, so keep up the awesome how-tos. I say just ignore those telling you that you shouldn't post informational posts because you aren't an "expert" .. we all have to start somewhere <3

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement Erica! :)

  2. Great post, and I agree with ignoring those people...heck, as we all know, even a lot of 'informed' nail techs do things that are overall bad for your nail health. I am one of those who loathes polish removal and I've been curious about those nail tubs- does it dry out the skin around your nail really badly? My skin is dry to begin with and of course I always use balms and oils after removing polish but I worry about it still drying out my skin like the foil method used to if I didn't use vaseline or something around the nails first.

    1. The non acetone tubs don't dry out my nails as bad as acetone or the foil method. I am in the process now of making a home-made jar using sponges and once my Zoya remove gets here (I ran out!), it is going into the jar. I also find with the tubs, I can always add a little extra remover (non acetone) if it gets or feels like it is drying out, which is nice. I get about 40 removals out of a tub before the sponge starts to come apart, and that is usually because I used a tough glitter in there.

  3. What a great post! I'm going to go dedicate a toothbrush just for cleaning my nails right now!