If so, please carry on reading. If no, what the heck are you doing here?!
Ok so it took my nails from being in their bitten for 17 years state to good/hard nails a good year and then they just keep getting better. I started off using Sally Hansen nail care products, this was because they were extremely cheap in Australia and they promised miracles.
Now these miracles only happened when I actually wore the treatment. I don't want this, I want rock hard/healthy nails even when they're naked! D:<>
My nails always broke or split on the sides where my tiny nail had just started to grow a tip. I was very proud when I had little white tips, even if my nails were in the most horrendous state you had ever seen. So I was very distraught when they kept breaking at the sides, which caused me to bite them off... which led to gnawing them down again and I would be very un-happy with myself.
So I set out for my favourite nail polish company's treatment system. This was OPI's Nail Envy. No matter how many times I tried to persuade mum in the chemist, she wouldn't let me buy it at it's $40 price tag. If only I had known about the e-tailers then...
So I stopped using Sally Hansen's Growth Miracle Cure and moved on to Diamond Strength I think it was... This made my nails super hard, but of course only when I was wearing it. But this time, I was hard on myself, I always tried to keep concious about putting my hand near my mouth. I did this when I was bored/nervous or busy at school work. When my hand slowly krept up to my mouth I would stop, look at it and tell myself in my head "I want beautiful long nails like Danielle (my sister)".
So a few months after this and when little tips began to arise I was extremly happy with myself and luckily found the etailers at this stage, I think it was 8ty8. I bought Original Nail Envy and used it religiously. Nail Envy made my nails hard when they were painted and naked, I was very happy :D But beware: NAIL ENVY YELLOWS, my nails are still yellow from it.
So now I was growing tired of Nail Envy because of it's yellowing skills. Then I moved on to OPI's Maintenance, which is for nails that are already strong and you just need to keep them like that, they don't really need any miracles at this point :)
Ok Maintenance is working great, my nails are keeping their strength but they were now peeling at the 'moons' or near the cuticle. Now I am at the stage where I have found my holy grail treatment. Nailtek's Citra 3 for Dry and Brittle nails. It has stopped the peeling, isn't yellowing, my nails are super strong and healthy and it doesn't contain Formaldehyde! It also makes the nail polishes glide on really smoothly and doesn't chip straight away.
Alrighty, so another thing that really bothered me was all the peeling skin around my cuticles. These annoyed me so I usually bit them off which caused more to peel and then bite my nails. UGH! So while in Australia, I bought Sally Hansen's Cuticle Exfoliator. This was really good at getting rid of all the little bits of skin but I could only do it once a week.
I got bored of that and stopped using it as I wasn't seeing a long term result. So me and mum decided to try CND Cuticle Eraser that was raved about on MakeUp Alley.
WOAH it works! I haven't had my cuticles grow out since I have being using it or peely/broken cuticles! Excellent stuff, mum is so impressed she has bought tubes and tubes of it.
Next up, CND's Rejuvenator. This stuff is also a tru miracle worker. A little different to CE as it is more moisterising and hydrating compared to exfoliating. So I use Cuticle Eraser in the morning and Rejuvenator just before I go to bed or whenever my cuticles are feeling dry or irritated.
Throw away those crappy emery boards and buy a glass/crystal file. Why do I say glass/crystal like that? Because they are pretty much the same thing :)
I own a random one brought from Farmers. Not OPI, Essie or anything. These babies are wonderful. They soften the edges of your nails when you file them so you are least likely to have your nails splitting and your nail layers splitting. They also get the job done much quicker than an emery board.
Ok so you have the right file... now what shape?!
Some people might say "follow the shape of your cuticle" or "just file it straight across so they look fake". We don't really want the second one... and the first one, your nails would all be different shapes. Bleh.
I personally file mine square. So I file them straight across, going from both sides. I don't stick to the "only file in one direction" rule, I honestly have not found a difference other than it being easier and quicker to do it going from both directions.
So after filing across, I gently round the corners. Not a lot, just enough to soften the harsh square corner. You don't want your nails looking like fakies do you? :D
I have tried Sally Hansen, OPI, Zoya, Nailtek, Nailtek Hydration, Seche, Poshe and god knows what else.
I have found that OPI is best for lemming wheels and things like that, also good for manicures if you can wait a day or two for it to dry :D and that Poshe is the best fast-dry top coat. I felt that Seche's bottle/brush design was crap. The brush is tiny and hardly reaches the bottom. Poshe has a nice wide brush and thick formula which is great for protecting your polish.
That my dear Juicer, was the story and experience of finding my way to how I care for my nails now n_n
Here is a quick list of what products I use religiously:
Treatment/Base coat: Nailtek Citra 3 for Dry and Brittle nails.
Topcoat: Poshe Fast Drying
Cuticles: CND Cuticle Eraser, CND Rejuvenator, Home brew that mum made for us all.
Hope this all makes sense :D If you have questions, ask away!