I’m always somewhat hesitant to recommend a specific product, company or retailer because I have found that everything that’s said about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure holds absolutely true, particularly in the world of beauty-based retail. On the balance of probabilities, purely from a numbers standpoint, one or two people are going to have a negative experience with a company or a product that I can’t say enough good things about, and vice versa. It’s an inevitability, and excepting cases where the quality of a product or a company’s services are indisputably – by anyone’s standards – garbage, it’s really something of a personal preference crapshoot. We all march to the beat of a different drummer (Travis Barker is my life’s drummer, in case you were curious), or, to cycle back up to the top of this paragraph, trash/treasure.
But over the course of my rather short nail art “career” I have run across a number of excellent, can’t-live-without-em products and retailers, and I would be remiss – REMISS! – in not sharing the love, with the hope that you find them just as great as I do. And in the interest of not swamping you with 8,657 rhapsodizing words on the subject of nail art and nail art-related products, I am going to split this post into a few different sub-posts, starting with some of the behind-the-scenes goodies of the nail art world.
For someone who sops her hands in noxious chemicals nearly every single day, I have a remarkably casual approach to nail care. As in up until about a year ago, I just didn’t. I’ve never been a huge fan of hand cream (to mangle a joke from the Big Bang Theory, why do you want your hands to feel like veal?) and at first I thought that my cuticles were just fine, thank you very much (they weren’t.) But I quickly came to realize that a consistent approach to hand and nail care keeps the raggedy bits at bay, and I now make sure to treat my mitts to multiple daily doses of soothing, delicious-smelling hydration.
To that end, I pretty well exclusively use a range of items from Sunny’s Body Products, an indie retailer I have sung the praises of before. Sunny’s offers a number of products, from lip balms and bath whips to sugar scrubs and lotions, although I’m partial to their cuticle oils and balms, rich, emollient concoctions of nourishing oils in your choice of (as of the writing of this post) over 400 unique scents. I particularly like that Sunny’s offers nearly all of their products in generously-sized sample packs, so you can try out all sorts of wild and wooly scent combinations without a massive financial outlay. My Sunny’s stash, as it’s known around Instagrammy parts, is downright small – a few oils, a couple of creams, a lush lip balm – but I do have a favourite product and scent in Sunny’s Cuticle Oil in Autumn Harvest, a rollerball-topped applicator filled with all sorts of good-for-you oils in a sweet and spicy, gorgeously gourmand scent. If all of that sounds delicious to you, you can purchase Sunny’s products through their site here.
For my money (and for anyone who buys it, you already know it’s one of the more expensive topcoats on the market) you can’t beat Seche Vite. It is the king of high shine, lightning fast topcoats, drying to a rock hard, ultra glossy finish in seconds. Some folks aren’t fans, citing Seche’s rather elevated price tag and tendency towards mid-way bottle glop, but I very much am, in no small part owing to the fact that without Seche Vite, I NEVER would have ventured beyond my first hesitant attempts at nail art (raggedy little watermelons and streaky strawberries.) I remember finishing my designs and then sitting back, thinking, “Is this it? These look…all right, I guess?” But then I remembered the bottle of Seche Vite the saleswoman added to my order as the gift-with-purchase, an item I had totally overlooked, having never used a topcoat before, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. And not only did it not hurt, it was – befitting its name – the perfect finishing touch, smoothing out all the fruity lumps and bumps while adding some much-needed depth and shine. You’ll never convince me there’s a better topcoat, so you might as well save your breath! But just in case I’ve managed to convince YOU, you can find Seche Vite at Sally Beauty Supply, Nail Polish Canada and certain well-stocked drugstores (Rexall here in Canada, for instance.)
You should do it. Always. It takes seconds (unless you’re tidying up after a water marble) and displays a level of care for your work (and anyone else staring at your hands) that’s just plain old nice to see. I clean up all of my manis by dipping a small, flat-headed brush into pure acetone before running it around the edges of my nails. It’s a great, simple technique for tidying up the occasional blip and blob (and believe me, even two years in there are still PLENTY of blips and blobs), but it’s also quite drying, so you’ll want to dab on a bit of oil to soothe the savage cuticle beasts (one of Sunny’s magic potions, perhaps?) My small brush (actually not small enough, but it’s due for a tinier replacement pretty soon) comes from Michael’s, and the acetone I use, Beauty Secret’s pure acetone, is another product available at Sally Beauty Supply.
That’s all the wisdom I have to drop on you today, but as all the great TV shows say, to be continued!