Are you one of the millions of women who receive a professional manicure every 7 to 10 days?  If so, I am a bit jealous as this is a “me time” indulgence that my busy schedule has not permitted in recent weeks.  To keep my nails healthy, strong and reflective of person that takes pride in her appearance, I have had to rely on professional quality nail products that I could use at home to minimize breakage and promote a longer lasting polish application.
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The first step in keeping your nails healthy at home is to switch to a non-acetone polish remover with added nutrients such as glycerin, panthenol and soy to minimize the drying effect on both the nail bed as well as the cuticles and skin surrounding the nail.  Keep in mind that the polish will be a little tougher to remove with a more gentle, non-acetone remover.
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Next, be sure to file your nails weekly with a nail file designed for natural nails with a minimum of 180 grit.  Anything with a lower grit than 180 is too coarse for natural nails and designed to be used on artificial nails and enhancements.  A grit of 240 is perfect to use to smooth the surface of the nails and remove surface discoloration or smooth ridges in the nail.  The best type of nail file for natural nails is a crystal file such as the double-sided crystal nail file from La Vaque Professional Tools which is what I use and recommend to my clients.  The La Vaque crystal nail file is acid etched to hold an even grit for years and is non porous providing a much more hygienic option than your average  emery board which is porous and can absorb moisture and bacteria.  Always make sure your nails are dry as filing wet nails can cause splitting.
One of my “go to” brands when it comes to nail care is Creative Nail Design, also known as CND.  When I owned a day spa we used all of their professional products and I have loved them since, especially the Almond Spa Manicure series.  CND encourages the three “C’s” of nail care: care, condition and coat.
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Care begins with keeping the nails clean and exfoliated to prevent cuticle build up and prevent hangnails.  CND’s Cuticle Eraser is one of the best products on the market to gently exfoliate dead skin and is a top pick for nail products according to totalbeauty.com with readers rating CND’s Cuticle Eraser 9.3 on a scale of 1-10.
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Hydrating the nails and skin surrounding the nail bed is extremely important as dry nails become week and brittle.  Applying a cuticle oil such as CND’s Solar Oil to the nail bed and smoothing it into the nail and surrounding skin before bed on a daily basis will allow the emollient oils to penetrate through the nail enamel and/or enhancements as well as the nail plate layers to fill the spaces between the layers with oil which pushes out any water in the nail plate making it more resilient and flexible.  Consistent daily use of CND’s Solar Oil will allow the product to penetrate deeper into the nail plate to promote strong and healthy nails.  Beauty insiders LOVE CND’s Solar Oil to read more see: CND SolarOil is InStyle Magazine’s best cuticle oil for 2013 as well as ’06 and ’07.
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Although I have been a CND customer both professionally and personally for many years, I had the opportunity to try two products recently when the manufacturer sent them to me to test and provide an unbiased review.  A professional product only, CND’s Almond Moisture Scrub used in conjunction with their Almond Illuminating Masque  is a divine experience and one I highly recommend.  The Almond Moisture Scrub is designed for the hands but can be used on the body as well.  I am very selective when it comes to body products and for that reason, typically end up making my own scrubs and body oils however, I was very impressed with this product which uses a combination of refined sugars, finely ground mineral salts and jojoba beads to provide a non-abrasive physical scrub.  I used this product prior to waxing and found that it promoted a much more thorough result.  If you can get this product from your local salon I highly recommend it!
I used the scrub on my hands and followed with application of the Almond Illuminating Masque, also a professional only product.  Although I did not have warming mits to put my hands in as you would if you received this as a spa treatment, I did notice that the product seems to create a protective barrier on the surface of the skin.  I am not fond of using moisturizers that contain mineral oil or petroleum, however using a product to seal in moisture such as Almond Illuminating Masque promotes a more durable moisturization perfect for those that work in an industry (or home) that requires frequent hand washing.  This product is visually beautiful and like all the products in the Almond Spa line, has a lovely aroma that is conducive to relaxation.
Keeping the hands and nails moisturized on a daily basis not only promotes healthier nails but also smoother, younger looking hands.  Condition your hands multiple times throughout the day and before you go to be at night to seal in moisture and allow it to penetrate through the skin while you are sleeping and the skin is at rest providing maximum benefit to the body.  Two of my favorite products are the Citrus Hydrating Lotion and Almond Smoothing Creme, also by CND.
Citrus Hydrating Lotion is blended with citrus and grape seed oils and black tea extract to provide maximum moisture and nutrients to both hands and body.  The citrus scent is uplifting and invigorating, perfect for spring and summer weather.  For more intense hydration, try CND’s Almond Smoothing Cream which contains almond oil, antioxidant rich, shea butter, as well as jojoba oil which is similar to the natural sebum in skin and acts as a carrier to increase penetration of other ingredients.  Shea butter acts as a shield and protects the skin from environment aggressors.
Finish your nails by applying a base coat and polish of choice followed by a top coat to seal in moisture and further protect the nails from breakage.  Another winner from CND is their Super Shiney High Gloss Topcoat which has been featured in Allure Magazine, Nails Magazine and is a favorite of beauty bloggers.  CND’s Super Shiney High Gloss Topcoat is free of Formaldehyde, Toluene or Dibutyl Phthaltate (DBP) and contains UV absorbers to resist fading and discoloration and should be applied following nail polish and reapplied every couple of days to extend the life of your manicure.

Sending peace, love and happiness to all!

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Kelly Kirby Worley
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