If you're like me, you are either too busy or too lax to make time for detailed nail care. If so, here are some ideas based on my routine.
Before removing any nail polish:
* Lightly file and shape nail edges with an emery board.
* Apply cuticle remover. A good time to do this is right before bathing, shampooing hair or dish washing by hand. I prefer Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. This stuff works in 15 seconds or less and you don't want to leave it on longer. I recommend using it before removing nail polish because it is strong and will also remove some of your nail if left on beyond the 10-15 seconds.
* Remove the dead cuticles and cuticle remover using a wash cloth or nail brush (option: tooth brush, new or used).
* Optional: Use an exfoliating paste to slough off dead skin and soften hands. I like Kerasal's Exfoliating Pumice Paste. I only use it on the palms of my hands, not the whole hand.
* Push your cuticles back at the end of bathing (use your damp washcloth or bath towel), shampooing your hair or dish washing by hand. This is a time when your cuticles are soft and pliable. If you want to, this is also a good opportunity to trim dead cuticles or hangnails if you do so on moist, soft cuticles.
* Take whatever kind of oil you have (nail/cuticle oil, evoo, coconut, baby, even a smidgen of Vaseline) and apply it to your nails and cuticles. You can use your towel or damp washcloth to wipe off the excess and push your cuticles back one last time.
* Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize with whatever product you like.
* If your nails are nude and you're doing a full manicure, take a 100% cotton ball (or paper towel, tissue, towel, whatever you prefer) moistened with alcohol and swipe your nail surface to remove oils, polish residue, lotions etc.
* If your nails are painted, remove all polish.
* Paint your nails, finish with a fast drying top coat, and you're done.
It probably takes longer to read this post than to do all the steps. :-)
Hope this helps.
Happy Lacquer Loving!