How to Care for Nail Art
Nail art is a fun way to beautify your nails. Whether you’re into intricate designs and stickers or a simple French manicure, there are a few things you will want to do to make sure your nail art lasts for more than a day or two. With a bit of preparation and good technique, you will be able to care for your nail art and enjoy it for many days.
Preparing Your Nails
Develop healthy fingernails. Since your fingernails are the canvas for your nail art, you want to start with a healthy surface. Strong nails will allow your nail art to look great and last for a long time. To improve your nail health, start with your diet. Make sure you are getting enough biotin, Vitamin E, and omega 3s. If you need help getting these nutrients, try taking a supplement. Protein rich foods will also help your nails grow, so be sure to eat beans, fish and nuts.
- Additionally, keeping your hands and nails moisturized and protecting them from harmful elements, such as harsh weather or cleaning chemicals, will go a long way.
Wash your hands thoroughly before applying polish. This will allow the polish to adhere to your nails. It is important to remove any lotion, dust, or water on your nails right before you begin. These elements create a slick surface that hinders the nail art from adhering and will lessen the nail art’s longevity. Starting with a clean surface also helps nail polish to dry quicker and prevents smudging.
- To fully remove any oils that might be on your nails, try using nail polish remover before you start, even if you’re not wearing nail polish. Apply any kind of nail polish remover to a cotton round and brush over each nail to start with a clean surface.
Choose quality nail polish. Avoid ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which raise health concerns and have been shows to be allergens. Also, try not to use quick drying nail polish, which can dry out your nails, or hardening nail polish, which can result in your nails breaking or cracking. Instead find nail polishes that are labeled “three-free” to show that they do not include harmful ingredients. This will allow you to wear your nail polish for an extended period of time without it adversely affecting your health.
Apply a base coat to your natural nails. Besides protecting your nails from stains, a good base coat gives the polish an ideal surface to adhere to. It creates a sticky surface that the polish will grab onto so that it lasts longer. A good base coat also creates an even surface for your nail art and certain formulas can moisturize your nails. Just make sure to use a quality base coat or it can end up doing more harm than good.
- Give your nails two thin coats of base. It acts as double-sided tape for the polish and creates a barrier between your nail and the polish.
- Never use top coat as base coat. Top coat is much thicker and has different chemical properties than base coat. It also dries much slower and doesn’t have the sticky power of base coat. Not all clear nail polishes are created equally!
Drying Your Nail Art
Let your paint fully dry. This is of vital importance in creating quality nail art that will last. Besides allowing the initial layers of paint to fully dry, as you add nail art, each additional element needs to dry. For example, if you are painting flowers on your fingers with multicolored petals, allow each color to fully dry before adding the next. This will prevent the paint from running or smudging so that your nail art lasts for a long time. Taking the time to allow paint to fully dry each time you use a new polish is one of the most important things you can do to make long-lasting nail art.
- If your design is the same on each nail, it is best to apply one part of the design to each nail and then do the next part of the design on each nail, as opposed to fully painting one nail at a time. This ensures adequate time to allow each element to dry before adding the next part.
Avoid using your hands. This is the only way to allow your hands to dry without damaging your nail art. To fully allow nail polish to dry, wait at least a half hour before using your hands. It is tempting to check your phone or write a quick note, but forgoing these tasks for a half hour will ensure that no harm comes to your nail art.
- Play some music or turn the TV on before painting your nails so you’ll have something to listen to or watch as your nails dry.
Place your nails in front of a fan. This will help your nail art dry effectively and efficiently by helping them to set. Hold your nails in front of a fan for 5-10 minutes. Just don’t use too high of a setting or it could cause your nail polish to ripple.
Submerge your nails in ice water. To use this method, fill a bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Place your partially dry nails in ice water for about a minute. This will harden and dry your nails much faster than letting them air dry. Just make sure you don’t hit your nail on the ice, which can mess up your nail art. Also make sure your nails are at least partially dry before submerging them so that the polish doesn’t run.
- Alternately, you could even stick your hands in the freezer for a few minutes. The cold air will help the polish to set and the circulating air will help the solvent to evaporate.
Protecting Your Nail Art
Apply cuticle oil. When your nails are complete, applying cuticle oil can add protection. Apply generously not only on your cuticles but also on top of your nails. The slick surface of the oil will help deflect any nicks and will act as a barrier so that if you hit your nail on something, the cuticle oil is affected rather than the polish.
- Apply the oil after your nail art has dried, and refrain from using your hands for a few minutes.
Touch up as needed. In case you do end up with a small smudge, you don’t need to completely redo your nails. Instead, fix that one area by repainting it and then when it dries, follow with a layer of top coat. The same is true if one of your nail art elements comes undone. Simply reapply another sticker or gemstone as needed.
Moisturize your hands. Apply moisturizer to keep your hands and nails healthy. Consider using one with sunscreen to protect from UV damage. Pay attention to the ingredients of your moisturizer and try to find one with healthy oils, such as almond oil or avocado oil. These will lock in moisture without exposing your hands to any harmful chemicals.