My experience with acrylic & gel nails - Pre-2016

This page is directly imported from my old Blogger account, as such, all the pictures are missing because they're no longer showing up in blogger, for some unknown reason, they're still in Google Photos, but I have no idea why they're not showing up in Blogger any more. Because of this, rather than trying to find all the photos that link to the specific entry, I'm going to make an image carousel at the bottom of this page, to show all the horror photos that I refer to in the individual blog entries.

Due to this, I have removed all the photos and I have also utilised the new Google Sites capability to have Collapsible text because these blog entries are MASSIVE!

15-08-29 Where I want my nails to be

This is a picture that I had taken ages ago, and in it my nails are perfect. They're natural, with top coat and a little design, and I love them.

I started having acrylics done in around 2004/5, and these are natural nails with top coat and a little design on them, taken in 2008. So I know that I can grown my natural nails again after acrylics, because this picture is proof.

I have this picture easily accessible everywhere, so that I can look at it and see that I can get there.

History of My Nails!

When I was 18/19 my partner at the time decided she'd had enough of me biting my nails and decided to put 'Stop 'n' Grow' on them while I was asleep. I can honestly say it's the most vile taste in the world and you don't ever seem to be able to get rid of it! Which, of course, meant that it worked and I stopped biting my nails. I now know that this is called negative conditioning, you go to bite your nails out of habit, you taste something utterly disgusting, you move your hand away from your mouth, and so it goes on, until the habit is broken and you don't bite them any more and you don't need to have a disgusting tasting liquid on them.

So anyway. When I was 18/19 I'd been biting my nails ever since I can remember, and they looked disgusting and terrible and I can't even tell you how bad! So, 'Stop 'n' Grow' was employed to stop me biting them, and an Avon product to make them stronger (I would like to point out that I am in no way linked to Avon and this is just my subjective view on this product). Well, this stuff was like gold! It was brilliant, and soon enough I started to see little white tips appearing on my nails and they were as hard as, well umm, nails!

Then we started getting into manicures etc. to keep them looking nice and I ended up with these bloody great talons! This picture was taken in 2008, 10 years after I'd stopped biting them, it didn't take 10 years, but for some reason (I think because camera phones weren't really a 'thing' then, I don't have any pictures of them natural before this, although if I find any I'll post them).

They were really strong and amazing, thanks to the Avon product. If any of you are wondering, the product is called Avon Nail Experts Diamond Strengthening Complex. That's what it's called now, but I don't remember what it was called all those years ago!

This is what the bottle looks like at the moment, although knowing Avon they'll probably change it!!

So, everything was fine and dandy for a while, and then I got lurrred into having acrylics done. Don't get me wrong, I had some amazing nails done by some really talented people, but I'm paying the price now for years of abuse by acrylic, gel and stick ons.

There are others, some of which are just dire, but these give a flavour of the work that I've had done to my nails. I couldn't put in every picture that I've ever taken of my nails, believe me that would take a long time.

Here is a sample of some of the amazing acrylic nails I've had done over the years, from salons all over Plymouth

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Here is a selection of gel nails that either I've done, or a couple that I had done when gel was very new in Plymouth

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A History of Lady Pink's Nail Fiascos!

So, after years of abusing my nails and wearing acrylics, gels and stick on nails, my nails have decided they've had enough.

It started 3 years ago in November. It was about 3 weeks until I got married and I was playing around with gels to see how I wanted them for the wedding. I did my own gels, and had been doing them for about a year, nothing had happened and they always looked fab!

Then it all went wrong!

We have no idea what it was or what happened, but I ended up in the Cumberland Centre and was given the diagnosis of chemical burns under my nails, down the side of my nails and all across the tops, and was told that it was the UV lamp. So I never touched my gels again (they're upstairs in a drawer and have been for almost 3 years now, I really should get rid of them!). I was also told that I should never put anything on my nails again, and stick ons would probably be ok but not for a long time, well I was due to get married 12.12.12, so I wasn't about to have crap nails, so I had stick ons on for the day, and nothing reacted, so we thought we were onto a winner!

Then it was a case of fact finding, to see if it was the gel products or the UV lamp, because if stick ons were ok, then it must be something to do with the gel. So I put my hands under the UV lamp with nothing on them at all, I'd washed and dried them properly and nothing happened, there was no reaction at all. OK we thought, so it's not the lamp, it must be the gels. So we bought new ones, new primer, new files, new base coat and expensive gel nail varnish. And up it flared again. Bu now I was getting a little bit fed up, as you can imagine!

So, we decided that the best thing to do was to leave them alone for a while and go back to acrylics, as I'd never had a problem with them before, they were a pretty safe bet. And they were perfect, nothing happened, nothing flared up, nothing. Great we thought. I'll buy acrylic stuff and do them myself. So I headed down to Galaxy Nails in Plymouth because I didn't want to risk buying cheap stuff from abroad and have something flare up again, so I bought everything new and proper, even down to new files. And it worked for a while.

Then this happened a few months ago:

So, obviously, everything came off and I let my nails breath for a while, and went back to stick ons.

And it kicked off again

So everything came off, waited, stick ons went back on. Everything was fine. Thought we'd try acrylics again. Acrylics went on, acrylics came off less than 24 hours later because of this.

So now I begin back again at the start of my journey with nothing on my nails and nothing likely to be on my nails for a very long time.

This is where I am, and this is what I'm using on my nails, along with a high dose of antibiotics at the moment to stave off infection, as well as silver hand wash, I'll write another blog shortly for what I'm using and why!

15-09 Nail Care Routine written on 30/08/15 - pictures missing

I had a nail routine worked out (literally I worked it out about 2 days ago), and then I spoke to a very close friend of mine, and she suggested something else.

She knows the problems that I've had with my hands for a number of years, and she also had another friend who used a strange combination on her feet when a nail was infected. She told me that her friend used 1tbsp of vinegar in 1/2 a pint of hot water (as hot as you can have it) for at least 15m per hand. Then dry them thoroughly and put Vicks VapoRub on the skins around the sides of the nails, the nail and across the top of the finger.

I thought the idea was a bit wacky, but at this point what did I have to lose? I picked up malt vinegar from Tesco for 39p for a big bottle and a 100g pot of Vicks for £3 (reduced from £4). So I wasn't really spending a lot if it didn't work.

I went on to Google and typed in 'unusual uses for Vicks' and lots of people use it for all sorts of different things, from fungal nail infections to horse racing! It's true, look it up (click on the link above if you don't believe me)!! I found that lots of people use it for infections on their hands, and it's ok as long as you don't mind the smell, it doesn't bother me, and if it's going to help my nails then I really don't care!

So I've had to start a new routine for my nails, and it might seem a little bit much, but if it works for me and if it helps other people then it's worth it.

I started a Google Sheet (through Google Drive) to keep a track on how quickly I use entire tubes of things so that I can roughly estimate when I'm going to need more. Mainly because Amazon now do a 'Subscribe and Save' option for things you buy regularly, so if I'm going through things every month and need to buy new ones, then this option is something worth considering, anything to save a little bit of money!

I've looked around online, and in Plymouth a manicure costs between £10-£20. So if I take that as my baseline, of averaging £15, and to keep my nails in the best condition, we're thinking a manicure would be necessary around every 2 weeks, so that's £30. Now I'm not suggesting that manicures are over priced or anything like that, but personally I'm taking care of my nails a few times a day to get them back up to health, and some products I will carry on using once or twice a day, and some will go to once or twice a week, so if I use £30 as a guide price, as long as the products I'm buying are less than £30 a month we're saving money.

It should also be noted at this point, that as well as the routine (below), I have also been prescribed Flucloxacillin 500mg mediation to be taken 4 times a day, and I do my best to remember tablets 4 times a day. I have been prescribed this because I went to the doctor and asked for iodine patches (because that's what I was given at the hospital) and showed him my hands. He asked me if iodine patches actually did anything, and I said that it had always cleared up, but I don't know if that was because of the iodine patches that I was putting on them, or because I was leaving them alone. He suggested that antibiotics would be better (even though the hospital had previously said that it wasn't an infection. This is my second course (one after the other) of antibiotics, and they do seem to be working, although I don't know if that's due to the tablets or the fact that I'm not putting stick ons or acrylics on and fiddling with them anymore, who can tell?!

So this is my current routine. I know it looks a little bit confusing, but I'll explain it!

The dates on the left are the dates that I bought the current tubes. You'll notice that there are some that are dated in the future, 02/09/15. This is because I've ordered them from Amazon and they're arriving on Tuesday 01/09/15 because Monday is a Bank Holiday in the UK. So these are the dates that I will start using the product. I think it's important to see how much I'm using monthly, as explained above, for Amazon's 'Subscribe and Save' option, and this is a really easy way to see how long things are lasting, because you can bet that not everything is going to run out at the same time, so it's just an easy reference point.

Where I have put 'No Idea!!' it's because I have already got them and I don't know when I got them or how many times I've used them, but I know that both the Vaseline's are relatively new (within the last 2-3 weeks). And you'll also notice that I've put the ml in as well. This is because, again, I want to know how much Im' using. For Vaseline there are 2 different types, the 200ml one is for home because I will use more at home than I will do anywhere else. It's more for keeping an eye on things really.

And you will notice that I have 3 lists, 1 for home, 1 for work and 1 for my handbag. The reason for this is so that I always have the necessary products on me no matter where I am. At the moment I'm working in an office (temping) so I have a desk, so it's easy to leave a small make up bag on my desk and use things periodically throughout the day, and leave it at work, so that I always know I have what I need. The same goes for my handbag make up bag really, I like to know that if I have a snag or chip or something like that, no matter where I am, I can deal with it there and then. For example, out for a coffee or at mother's, I don't need to keep picking at it or making it worse by biting it off, I can file is there and then.

Obviously there is a home kit as well, which has a lot more in it:

I want to make sure that I have everything suitable for the different situations, in those different situations. Also, I cut open the nail file pouches but I don't throw them away. I cut them top (where the perforations are so that it's still sealed, but so that it's shorter) and bottom to be able to get the file in and out, but I put the file back in (once I've taken off the plastic wrapping). This means that my files will stay better for longer because they're protected from knocks, scrapes and bashes in my bag, and it also means that they stay cleaner because they're not left out on a desk in an office or at home to get covered in cat & dog fluff!

These are the products that I'm using. You will also notice antiseptic wipes, I use these when I'm not using vinegar water, so in the care or at work, or during the day at home when I can't do the vinegar water. You will also notice a tooth brush - yes this is for my nails.. I use this when I have buffed or filed my nails to remove the dust that collects on the nails and between the nail and the skin, down the sides of the nails. Nail brushes can be quite hard and rough, and on my nails at the moment they're too coarse and they hurt. Tooth brushes are just as effective, and in my opinion better. The one in the picture I picked up yesterday (29/08/15) in Tesco in a pack of 5 with 3 protective caps for £1, I like the ones with the protective caps because again, all the rubbish and fluff doesn't get on them and keeps them a lot cleaner than if they were left to the elements, it also stops them from being bent out of shape. I also have a tooth brush in the kitchen & bathroom next to my hand soap rather than a nail brush that you would normally have in a bathroom, because again these are too coarse. I also find that standard nail brushes are too big and you can't angle them properly, but you can with toothbrushes, so personally I find them more effective.

So this is everything product wise in my home bag:

Obviously there are orange sticks and files (musts in any nail kit), and the toothbrush.

So, the regime that I stick to goes like this:

Morning at home:

  1. At the moment, I take an antibiotic first thing in the morning with my coffee as well, but this won't always be the case
  2. Wash hands with Carex Silver Moisturising handwash and a tooth brush to properly go around the nails and under any white that might be there
  3. Dry properly on a hand towel that only I use and isn't used for anything else or by anyone else. This gets washed regularly so that it stays as clean as it can be
  4. Use 1 or 2 antiseptic wipes to clear everything up just in case there was anything on the towel that I couldn't see
  5. I file off anything very gently using quite a fine file/buffer to make sure that I don't tear apart the nail and split the top layer from the bottom.
  6. I use the toothbrush to get rid of any dust, and just to make sure that there's nothing on or around the nail that shouldn't be
  7. I use an orange stick to gently remove any grubbiness from under my whites that washing my hands with the toothbrush didn't shift.

I think that's about it for this blog. Hopefully this has given you a little overview of what I use, why and how, any questions, please comment on this and I'll do my best to answer any questions.

15-09 August 2015 - My Nails Currently

So, if you've been keeping an eye on my blog you will know that I haven't had the best luck when it comes to my nails recently (or at all if I'm honest)! I seem to have good months and bad months, in the good months, my nails are perfect and they look amazing, then it seems that my body decides to hate me, and back we go to looking like I have finger leprosy (as my husband so kindly calls it)! We still have no idea what does it, we've used different glues, different files, different everything's, and nothing works. So this blog will be me trying to grow my natural nails again.

These are my other blogs about my nails, and because I'm not looking back in this section of my blog, if you want past information, look at these, but be aware there are really horrible pictures of my hands in their worst states.

History of Lady Pink's Nails

and

Nail Fiascos! CAUTION GRAPHIC IMAGES

[Please note, these entries are on this page]

This was the state of my nails when we finally managed to get enough antibiotics into my system to sort them out (I haven't put graphic pictures on here, the 'work in progress' or 'Jesus my nails and hands look really bad' pictures can be seen in my previous blogs).

So this was sort of where I started in August 2015. I thought it would be a good idea to start taking photos as soon as they didn't look like they were about to fall off, so that I could track my progress. At this point anything is an improvement, and to me they look horrible and disgusting, because obviously I'm used to perfectly manicured acrylics or perfectly painted stick ons (I have a tip for this in another blog, stay tuned for that one! Creating the perfect stick on nails)

So, today is 29 August 2015. So this is where we are

So this is where I'm starting from. The only place to go is up!

15-06-06 Nail Update

So after a week or so my nails are stronger and my hands are softer.

I've been using:

  • Cussons Carex Complete - Bacteria Protect - handwash with silver
  • Avon Nail Experts - Diamond Strengthening Complex
  • NuNale Cream Nail strengthener (found in Boots UK and Amazon UK)
  • Vaseline Healthy Hands + Stronger Nails Hand Cream

So that's the regime I've been using as well as taking antibiotics (although I have to admit that I haven't been taking them properly like I should have), and still the index finger on my left hand looks like it's flaring up again. It's pointless taking a picture of it because you won't be able to see anything, it's more of a feeling that I have in my finger tip.

The only thing that I have done differently this week is that I have used Steradent denture tablets to whiten the nails, soaked for 10 minutes each hand, and whitening tooth paste. However, I did this yesterday and I noticed that my index finger was funny around Wednesday, so I can't see that it was that that caused it. I will say though that I think my nails are whiter and less stained, but this might just be me!

So I'm going to go back to the Vicks and see if that helps in any way. I would have thought that Germolene would have been useful because it has antiseptic qualities, but apparently it's not enough at the moment. Vicks is used to treat fungal infections, so I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to start that again. So today, I have washed my hands using the above soap, using a tooth brush to make sure I cleaned everything off my nails. then I used the Avon Diamond Strength and let that soak in, then I put Vicks all around the nails, on the nails, around the cuticle and making sure that I used it around the finger tip and really rubbed it in.

I'm thinking that I might need to use Vicks every day, they recommend to do it at night and put on cotton gloves (which I have next to the bed upstairs), so I think this week I'll try using the above in the morning and during the day when I'm at work, and then using the Vicks every night.

I shall, of course, update throughout the week and next weekend and let you all know how it's gone!

15-09-06 Nail repair after acrylics

So, after a bit of digging around the internet, as us girlies do on a Sunday afternoon, I have found some companies who make post-acrylic serums to sort nails out.

There are a couple out there which took my fancy, but after reading Justine Olausen's blog (here) I have been really impressed with Trind products.

I've also heard very good reports about Jessica's products, which can be found on Amazon here.

I'm not going to be using the Jessica brand though, I'm going to try the Trind products and see how I get on with them.

15-09-13 Things have changed

They're not looking too bad, but they were really starting to get to me, and I'd started picking around the skin on my fingers and had made myself bleed and one or two of them were really flimsy. Now I know that the only way they will get stronger is to keep doing what I was doing, that or leave them alone completely.

I'm wondering if it's because I'm doing too much with them now. They've gone from literally having nothing done with them from one month to the next when I had acrylics on, to me fiddling with the a few times a day, and I'm wondering if that's too much. The majority of them are really hard and strong, but there are a couple that really don't seem to be toughening up no matter what I do.

Last time I grew natural nails was when I was 18, as anyone who is a follower of this blog will know, and I grew them from being bitten right down to the quick. So any little white showing was an improvement. But this time, I'm growing my natural nails from having very long and stunning false ones of one type or another, and I'm really having a hard time getting used to having no nails.

I did #BraveTheShave for Macmillan 2 weeks ago, and I think having no nails and no hair have taken their toll on my mental health (I have a diagnosed mental health condition which I have never mentioned before, because I was trying to not let things bother me, but it's just too much to deal with right now). In a conversation with my oldest friend, I said that because I had no hair and no nails I felt about as feminine as a potato. And while this was said in jest 2 weeks ago, it's ringing true with me more recently, and it's getting harder and harder to be in control of myself and my emotions. I am quite a girly girl, hair and nails are really important, I don't do make up or frilly things or anything like that, but hair and nails were my thing. I don't feel like me, there's no other way to describe it. I wouldn't change #BraveTheShave for Macmillan at all, please don't think that's what I'm saying. We raised over £300 and have donated 41" of hair to the Little Princess Trust, who make real hair wigs for children going through chemotherapy, which is a fantastic charity (their details can be found here). So I know that the temporary imbalance I'm going through at the moment because of too much going on at the moment, will pass.

The problem that I seem to be having at the moment would appear to be because of the change that's happening. There's nothing I can do about my hair, that'll grow as and when it sees fit. It's already grown lots in the 2 weeks since I've had my head shaved, and more than I thought it would. So that's all down to my body doing it's thing and I just have to leave that to it. But my nails there is something I can do about them.

I spoke to my long suffering husband last night, after an outburst at Mother's that was totally unnecessary and is down to the fact that I'm feeling more than a little fragile at the moment, and it's something that pills can't solve this time. I need to manage it better and do what I can to pick myself up, an as I can't 'fix' my hair, that just leaves my nails.

We spoke before the shave and he said that if I was having a really hard time after the shave, we would find the money to have another set of acrylics done, so I've know for 2 weeks that this was an option if I needed it. However, we spoke last night and after the problem at mother's, we decided that I would try stick ons again, because acrylics are around £20-40 for a fresh new set, and we still don't know how or if my fingers are going to flare up. So we decided that I would put stick ons back on and paint them and see how I did with them.

The reason for this is because we think I might be doing too much with them and not giving them enough time to sort themselves out. I've found more antibiotics that I've had from last time so we've decided to start taking these as well, just to see if anything does flare up we can nip it in the bud as soon as it starts.

Right, I feel a bit of a let down at the moment because I've put stick on nails back on again.

So I'm feeling a bit crap, but we have a new plan! Because we think I might have been doing too much with them, I've put stick ons back on so that I can't fiddle with them. Once a week I'm going to take them off and do the Avon Diamond Strength Nail Strengthener and NuNail, and while the stick ons are on, I can still do the Vicks, Germolene and Vaseline Hand & Nail Cream, to keep the finger tips supple and looked after, but doing it this way will mean they only have intensive treatment once a week.

Some of the nails, as you can see in the first picture, are still indented (my little fingers are worst of all), so I'm going to try and keep stick ons on, until all the nails are straight. Obviously I will file them with my crystal nail file once a week, to keep them short and to make sure that they are all the same length when the shorter ones grow up. Then, when they are all roughly the same length and relatively healthy, I will take off the stick ons and start again. I'm not trying to grow them long under the stick ons because they will go back to being weak again, so I'm looking at taking the stick ons off when they are all pretty much the same as my middle fingers on the top pictures. A little bit of white on all of them, which will look better and by then my hair should have grown a little but as well, so I should be able to deal with shorter nails. But I would hope that once there is a little bit of white on all of them, they can be kept stronger by starting the strengthening regime again. But maybe at the moment I'm doing too much and they are too strong (some of them), so I'm thinking weekly would be better than a couple of time a day which it what I'm doing at the moment.

The problem ones are the pinky nails, as they are deeply indented from the top, which means they will need longer to recuperate than others, so they're going to take the longest time to grow straight. But that's something I'm going to have to deal with, and once they're all grown with a tiny bit of white on them I can start looking after them again. But I won't do as much as I have been doing. I'm thinking a daily routine for the full works of Avon, NuNail, Germolene, Vicks & Vaseline should be fine, probably at night before I go to bed, should be more than sufficient to keep them in check. At the moment, the tiniest problem I'm filing it off and doing an entire manicure, so maybe I'm doing too much? I don't know, but there's only one way to find out. Keep the stick ons on as a protective shield almost, letting them grow underneath, once a week remove them, do a full manicure including filing and buffing and all the trimmings and leave them off overnight, then put them back on again the following day.

As soon as I'm comfortable with the length (which can't be too long because they won't be very stable and will be prone to breaking, so just a little bit of length), which I'll know in a couple of weeks when I take them off at the weekend to sort them out, I can file them into shape every week to make sure they're not being pulled and prodded every day, but as soon as they're an ok length and shape, I can take the stick ons off and start again.

15-09-13 Things have changed - again!

Right, so I've removed the stick on nails!

I've read a lot of reviews of a a couple of systems that have been specially created for post-acrylic nails, and there is one company who appear to have rave reviews.

So today, I have ordered the Trind Perfect System Full Size Nail Kit from Garden for £38.95 including postage. I looked around online and even on Amazon, where I usually get all my products, it wasn't available as a set, it was only available individually, which was far more expensive than £38.95. Postage is 2-5 days, so that's not too bad either.

So, here again, is another picture of what my nails are like today.

I've taken the stick ons off, gently filed and buffed away the glue, 1 layer of Avon Diamond Strengthening Complex, 1 layer of NuNale, then Vicks, then Vaseline Hand & Nail Cream.

This is the Trind set that I have bought:

  • So I shall do my manicure once a day as I have been so far (but limit myself to once a day for a full manicure), until this arrives, then I will follow Trind's Nail Rejuvenation Routine and see how I get on with that.

15-10-10 Right, let's start again shall we?!

Right, I was a bit silly and thought that everything was ok with my hands and started fiddling with them - boy was I wrong!!

And yes, it all kicked off again, oozing all over the shop and weeping and hurting, and all the things that they've done before, and I should have learned, but I didn't!! So I bought Rio Quick Dip Acrylics because I've used them before and they were ok, however because the infection hadn't cleared up, they hurt and wept and I took them off 24 hours later. Because of how they looked, and because I pride myself on my nails and them looking nice, and it really affects my mental health when they're not perfect. So when I took the acrylics off I went and put stick ons on again, and had to paint them, and I felt them instantly start itching when I put the nail varnish on. I knew it was a bad idea before I did it, but as soon as I put the nail vanish on and got that familiar tingle I knew it was too much, so I had to take them off again instantly. So in the space of 24 hours, I had acrylics put on and taken off, stick ons put on and taken off - which was really bad for my nails and cuticles because of all the chemicals, not to mention trying to get the bloody things off again. So I won't be doing that again.

I wouldn't say we're back to square 1, but we're not far off. The picture below was taken 4 days ago, and they don't look that bad, but believe me when I say they are blood painful and I know I shouldn't have done it!

Nail Care Routine Checklist in brief (brief...yeah right!!)

Daily Tablets:

  • Superdrug Skin, Hair & Nails tablets x 1 a day (taken at night with my other medication)
  • Flucloxacillin 500mg x 4 a day (on an empty stomach, which I've found out is 2 hours before or after food - easiest measured with a timer on your phone)

Morning Routine:

  • Soft toothbrush
  • Carex Complete Bacteria Protect
  • Soft tea towel - used only for nail preparation and care
  • Avon Nail Experts Diamond Strengthening Complex
  • NuNale Nail Strengthener
  • Vicks Vapo Rub
  • Vaseline Healthy Hand & Nail Conditioning Hand Lotion with keratin and vitamin e

During the day/whenever/wherever I can:

  • NuNale Nail Strengthener
  • Germolene
  • Vaseline Healthy Hand & Nail Conditioning Hand Lotion with keratin and vitamin e

Evening Routine:

  • Soft toothbrush
  • Carex Complete Bacteria Protect
  • Soft tea towel - used only for nail preparation and care
  • Bowl
  • Hot water & cold water (trust me have cold on standby because the hot might be too hot!)
  • Distilled vinegar (or white malt vinegar depending on where you live)
  • Olive Oil
  • Soft tea towel (again)
  • Vitamin E capsules
  • Pin to pierce the capsules
  • Small piece of foil made into a shallow bowl

Morning Routine

This is the routine that I do once a day in the morning (believe me when I say it actually takes longer to blog about it than it does to do it!).

I wash my hands with Carex Bacteria Protect.

I put a little on a soft toothbrush as well to really clean the sides and underneath the nails. I don't use this toothbrush for anything else, and the husband knows not to use it for anything as well!

Then I dry my hands on my soft tea towel (for reasons described above). Then I put this on each nail. This is Avon Nail Experts Diamond Strengthening Complex (however, this isn't in every brochure or even online - so I buy a few when I see it). If Avon have it online the place to find it would he here. It does have a distinctive smell, I'm not going to deny that, but it's been around for 15+ years (when you can find it!) and I love it. When you put it on, it will soak into the nail, it's not like a nail varnish that leaves a shiny top coat on, it actually soaks into your nail when it's dried. For this reason, you can easily see if there's anything unnatural on your nail because it will stay shiny. For example, at the moment I have acrylic on my left thumb nail, which I can't see really and didn't know that it was there, so there's always a part of that nail that stays shiny. I really need to get it off, but my nails are so thin I don't want to buff the acrylic off just in case!

You can get NuNale Nail Strengthener in some smaller chemists (not larger ones, I've just checked Superdrug and Boots and there's nothing), but I've also found it on Amazon here for £3.60 for 30ml. Unfortunately they don't do it in tubes any bigger, however, they do a pack of 6 for £18.99 saving £2.61 on buying them individually. Amazon also offers a subscribe & save option for £3.42 and the most common subscription is 2 months. I have 3 of these on the go at once, 1 in my handbag, 1 in my nail kit at home and 1 in the bedroom, so I buy them when I need them rather than using the subscribe and save option.

After the complex has soaked in I put a tiny dot of this onto each nail, seriously you only need the tiniest of dots, something around the size of a pin head, then rub this into the whole nail. At the moment I don't have a lot of nail to rub it into, but as they get longer you might find you need to use a little bit more of this the longer the nails become.

Germolene is my friend! Repeat after me, Germolene is my friend! It's really cheap and can be found almost anywhere! Boots have 55g for £2.99 or £1.99 for 30g. Superdrug have 55g for £2.19 and £1.95 for 30g. Amazon also have deals on occasionally for packs of 2 and 3, often with free delivery, so that's something to check as well. 'Germolene antiseptic cream combines an antiseptic action of Phenol and Chlorhexidine Digluconate to help prevent infections, plus a soothing anaesthetic effect of Phenol to numb the pain' - this phrasing was taken directly from the side of the tube. I use this as often as I can during the day. I have tubes all over the house and in my work bag as well as my handbag! I keep one next to the loo, in the kitchen, in the lounge, on the dining table - everywhere! I have to admit that the tips of my fingers because of the issues with my nail beds/infection have been quite painful, and because of this I have found this to be very useful. I work on a computer all day, and even though I have a Mac, where the keys are a lot softer than other keyboards that I have used before, the tips of my fingers are still sore due to the infection and typing constantly all day, and this really does help.

You don't need a lot of this, I take a pea size amount and put a little bit of this on each finger of one hand, and do the same for the other hand. I massage this into the whole area around the nail, nail bed, cuticle, tip of the nail, don't worry if you think there is too much on there, just carry on massaging it in and it'll disappear.

Vicks Vapo Rub is something that I've read online that can be used for lots of different things, and if you can get over the smell (or if you like it) then it does wonders! Because Germolene and Vicks are used on the same areas on the nails and surrounding skin you can't use both at once. If you put Germolene on first, the Vicks won't touch the skin so won't be effective and vice versa, so at home I use Vicks because of the smell and use Germolene out and about. Because of the smell of Vicks, a lot of people don't like it, so I only use it at home where myself and the husband don't mind it, in fact every time I do my nails, the husband waits for me to finish with it and pinches it to smell it! So wherever possible use these separately. If you're worried about the smell of Vicks outside the house, there's a weird reaction between Vicks and Vaseline - you can really smell the Vicks on your hands, until you put Vaseline over it and then the smell goes completely. Now I don't know if this is the same for all the different types of Vaseline because I only ever use the one below, so I can't comment on whether this will work with other versions of it.

I use Vicks on my cuticles and the skin around the nails on the sides, and on the skin above the nails as well as the tips of my fingers. I massage this in and make sure that I have plenty on there, but not too much. In the massaging of the fingers I'm not worried about whether I get it on my nails or not, as there are many reports online about the properties of Vicks being able to help fungal nail infections, so I'm not worried about getting any on my nails.

When all of the above has been done, I finish off the routine with a decent amount of Vaseline Healthy Hand & Nail Conditioning Hand Lotion with keratin and vitamin e and really massage it into the nails and around the nails and between the fingers. If you've used Vicks as the step before, this will get rid of the smell instantly (very odd but it works!). I also use this as often as I can during the day but not as much as I use in the morning.

Evening routine

This one is a little more tricky!

So, in the evening (every evening), I make up a bowl with distilled vinegar from Tesco, at 39p for 568ml (a decent dash of this), usually around 1/6 of a bottle, with water as hot as I can stand it with olive oil in it (£2 for 500ml). I soak my hands in this for 15 minutes, which is the longest 15 minutes of the day because I can't play with my phone!!

After the 15 minutes have passed, I pat my hands dry with a clean tea towel (because these are softer than paper towels, but more absorbent than hand towels). Before I've plunged my hands into the vinegar, I get one of these vitamin e capsules and prick a hole in the end and squidge out the oil onto a piece of foil. One capsule is plenty to do every finger even though when you look at them they're really small, so don't worry about using more than one. At the moment, these are 3 for 2 in Tesco - so 90 capsules for £4 - which is again, enough for 3 months.

I do this downstairs at the kitchen table because it's easier to have a flat surface that you're not going to accidentally slop it anywhere! I use a bowl for this that I can fit both my hands in at once, so that it's only 15 minutes, not 30! And having dogs (like we do) there's nowhere else that I can do this without little puppies trying to drink the bloody thing!

When I go up to bed, I then use Sudocrem Care & Protect right before getting into bed. Not the normal Sudocrem, but the Care & Protect version. It is more expensive than other things I use on my hands, however you don't need a lot, and it really is good. At the moment it's in Tesco for £5.45 for 40g or in Superdrug for £3.95 for 40g. There are also larger versions available in Boots where 100g is £10.49. Try it by buying a smaller version if you want, but it will still last you quite a while because you don't use a lot. I like it because as it states on the Sudocrem website 'the triple-action formula creates a protective barrier, conditions the skin and guards against infection' and this really does the trick. I use it because of the 'guards against infection' bit. I know it's for use on babies bottoms to prevent nappy rash and to guard against infections from wee and poop, but it's great for hands too! I only use this last thing at night because I'm not 100% struck on the way it smells, and it can be a little bit greasy if you put too much on, so it goes on at night then I don't have to deal with it!

2015 Routine Round Up

So yeah, that's the routine as it stands at the moment. This is exactly what I'm doing every day at the moment. It might seem like a lot, but as you can see from previous blogs, there's not a lot different to what I was doing in the first place and they were really coming on last time, so I'm going to carry on doing this until they get better.

Because of the fact that the doctor has told me that I'm not allowed to use anything on my nails, it looks like I might never be able to paint my nails again - whether it's clear or coloured - so it doesn't look like I'm ever going to be able to do that again.

If recent events are anything to go by, it means that the minute I accidentally get nail varnish on my skin or it touches my cuticle everything will kick off again. I really want to know what's causing it, is it the chemicals in the acrylic, is it the glue for the tips and the full cover nails or is it the nail varnish. However, the problem with that is that I need to totally get rid of the infection and problem and then try things one by one, which will mean potentially getting the bloody infection back again, so that's not really an option.

So for the moment at least I can't use anything on my nails apart from what I'm using, because that's clearing the problem up and getting rid of the infection. So for a long time, I won't be putting anything on my nails.

However, to be honest, when natural nails are long and clean, they look utterly amazing. This is the picture of my natural nails from 2008 that I keep going back to. They have clear nail varnish on them and a little design as a signature nail, but these are natural nails, there's nothing artificial on them at all. This is the picture that I have to keep in my mind when I think about growing my natural nails because of how stunning they look, and I need to keep this in my mind while I'm going through this whole growing phase at the moment.

I know that I have to grow my nails twice this time, once to grown out the acrylic and all the bad stuff that I've put on them (and during this phase they will be thinner than they should be) and then the second phase while they grow back to their proper thickness again. This is going to take time, but I've buggered around with them for so long now, and even last week I was doing the same thing, so there's nothing that I can do now apart from keep up the routine (above) and wait. I'll have to keep them short because of how thin they're going to be, but as soon as they grow back again thicker then I can look at getting them back to this length.

On average nails grow 3mm a month, in the above picture the whites are about 0.5cm (if not shorter) from the top of the finger to the free edge, which is 5mm. There are a lot of old wives tales out there about the best ways to get longer healthier nails, but some of them are just that, old wives tales, with no basis in science at all.

However, there are some that are scientific. It's October now, so most online places that talk about natural nail care state to wear gloves outside when it's cold, because cold air strips the natural moisture out of the nails. Wear rubber gloves when you're doing the washing up, or dealing with any chemicals (like window cleaning or polishing etc.). Use hand cream a lot, more than you would usually in the warmer months. So there are extra things that can be done to prevent things happening in addition to the routine that I'm already doing.

If we take the 3mm a month as a basis and take it to 2mm a month as a margin of error. My shortest nail is 8mm long from cuticle to free edge, and that's the very shortest. (Left hand - thumb 13mm, index 11mm, middle 10mm, ring 8mm, little 8mm. Right hand - thumb 15mm, index 11mm, middle 11mm, ring 9mm, little 8mm). I'm not quite sure why I've just worked that out, I'm sure there was a reason 5 lines ago, but I'm not 100% sure why now! And I've just done more research, which states that the index and middle nails grow quicker than the thumb and pinkie because of the length of the bone in the finger.

Right, each nail is different, I can honestly say I've never thought about getting my ruler out and measuring my nails!! 5mm of white would be good I would say, I would say that that's the same as the picture, so that's going to be 2.5 months (give or take), to get a nice length of white on the end. Bearing in mind that I won't be able to let them grow straight away, they will have to be much shorter than that for a while, keeping 2-3mm of white. And right now, all the nails aren't straight across the free edge, well basically there isn't a free edge, because that implies there is an edge that is free, and there isn't anything there yet. Most of the nails at the moment don't have any white on them currently, so we're starting from scratch anyway.

Nails take 3-6 months to regrown completely, which would mean that we're looking at 10 April, give or take, before the nail will have completely grown out from the part of the nail that's at the cuticle now, to it being the free edge.

If I'm completely honest, not having nails is really affecting me and really getting me down, I don't feel like myself at the moment and it's really having an affect on my emotional and mental state, and ability to be focussed on anything apart from how terrible my hands look. But on the other hand, when I see that picture (above) I'm really excited to see how my nails will look long and natural again, and I need to keep this in mind.

15-10-11 Oops - didn't realise my last post was so long!

They're actually quite bad at the moment and quite difficult to look at and deal with, but they can only get better I guess, I just need to give them time to get back to health again, and keep them short while this is happening. I'm not looking forward to it, but on the other hand I really am looking forward to seeing them all long and healthy and natural again!

I feel the need to apologise, I didn't realise my last post was so long!

Hopefully you all read it and got something out of it, and if you didn't get to the end, oh well!

I might not post for a while, so give everyone time to read the last one, it is on the epic side of long!

Just keep having to keep looking at this picture to remind myself of what they're going to look like maybe 6/12 months from now.

I've put nail vanish on recently (within the last few weeks) and every time they're flared up my cuticles, so there is a chance that I can't ever wear nail varnish again. Which is kind of hard to accept, because even though these nails are natural, they have clear nail varnish over the top, which might mean I'l never have nails that actually look like this again if I can't wear nail varnish.

So this means that I might have to use a buffer to get them to shine properly, but that's ok, I can do that!

15-10-11 Facebook Pages

15-10-31 Seriously? I give up

And this is just terrible. The thumb on my right hand is bleeding and keeps catching on things because it's chipped so bad that I can't do anything with it.

I've put stick ons on for a couple of weeks, but they only latest 24 hours. Last weekend, I put stick ons on without nail varnish (because we've already established that I have a problem with nail varnish) so I wanted to see if I would have a reaction to just the stick ons without nail varnish on them, and I did. So the next day (Sunday 25 October 2015) I had to take the stick ons off - by force because they hadn't been on long enough for the glue to decay to be able to 'ping' them off, which wasn't brilliant.

Last night, I put stick ons back on again, completely forgetting the experimentation last week and knowing that I couldn't wear stick ons and not because of the varnish. and fucked everything back up again, because they lasted a couple of hours before everything felt wrong again. So again, these had to be prised off, and fuck me it was painful, like seriously painful.

So now I know that there's nothing I can do artificial with them at all, and I mean, nothing!

I bought Avoplex last week, because years ago when I was with the nasty woman who put 'Stop'n'Grow' on my nails when I was asleep, O.P.I. did something called Avoplex, and I remember using it in my weekly manicures and it being quite good

Please note, the following images may be disturbing to some people

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