Have a question that we may have answered? You probably do, and you’re not the only one to ask it either. Scroll on through or use find and get an answer!

Q) My nails are really dry and skin looks terrible since I’ve started polishing my nails regularly. How do I fix it?!
A) Acetone is very drying – try using a remover with glycerin in it (Zoya Remove+ or the do it yourself version, for example), then moisturizing. Remove moisturizer before your next manicure or it will not last very long! Use a cuticle oil regularly to keep the skin moist and to avoid hang nails.

Q) My nails are splitting, are weak, are dry and brittle and break easily, and it’s happening more since I’ve used nail polish!
A) Consider nail treatments, either formaldehyde resin based or protein based, if your nails are weak. Consider nail maintainers/moisturizers if your nails are thick, dry and very brittle. See http://loodieloodieloodie.blogspot….ers-1-of-7.html for a great blog series on nail hardeners. Also using a file for your nails, instead of clipping or scissors helps nail edges not flake. You can overdo nail treatment usage, if the treatment contains formaldehyde! Take a break from them if your nail feels hard so they do not become too rigid and snap from any strain that gets put on them.

Q) My nails are much better not, but I suddenly got a big peel on the edge of a nail or a part of a nail broke. Other then filing/cutting my nail down to the broken edge, is there anything I can do to fix it?
A) The best thing for your nail health/strength is to file down the nail to where it peeled or broke. Unfortunately this probably means filing all your nails down to match if uneven lengths bother you. There are a few other options however: buff the peeled area, use a repair kit, or invest in a UV soak-off gel system to make a gel ‘fill’ to strengthen the nail.

The simplest is to file or buff down the peeled edge and polish over it, letting the polish strength the nail where it peeled. Your polish will definitely chip easily over the part of the nail that is missing or uneven, but for minor peels (not breaks) this might be a good option.

There are nail ‘repair kits’ (such as Orly nail repair) that involve painting a nail glue on your nail where it’s peeled or broken, dipping the nail into an acrylic powder, letting that dry and buffing it down so it’s smooth. This may work for some people, but I have not tried it. The powder is removed with acetone so you will have to use non-acetone polish removers for the most part.

You can also consider buying some silk nail wraps to strengthen the torn nail, or use teabags for a similar wrapping effect to save a torn nail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0y-R_1qq7M !

The most elaborate solution is to invest in a UV light box specifically for soak-off nail gel systems (such as seen here and apply shellac/hard gel onto your broken or peeling nail. If you are considering trying out a gel system anyway, or are interested in UV curing top coats (which can be put right on top of normal polish to protect them), this may be a good way to protect your nails.

Q) What about those do it yourself gel systems? Are all ‘gels’ the same? Is it safe?

The term ‘gel’ is used differently in salons and among the do it yourself manicure community. Sometimes ‘gel’ is used to refer to specific types of _acrylic_ nail systems in various salons and not the soak-off gel type of polish. If you are getting gel nails done in a salon, always inquire first and ask them whether it’s soak-off gel polish or another system. Both types last quite a while – 10days to two weeks for the soak-off gels is a commonly reported duration, but acrylic-gel systems do not easily soak off with acetone, and can require filing them off, so they are more permanent (and possibly damaging to your nail) nail solution.

The home-gel systems such as Shellac and Gelish are nail polishes that you apply either onto the associated base coat from one of the above systems, or sometimes just as a top coat. They’re entirely removable by soaking in acetone for a while, with some brands more easily removed than others – Shellac is apparently softer and easier to remove than Gelish, for example. It’s a matter of preference as to what to use. If you want a hard protective top coat, or a top coat to practice stamping on – where you can just swipe off mistakes with acetone, Gelish is better. If you want something that comes off more easily, Shellac seems to be better.

The above two systems (I believe there are a few others as well) require either a UV curing lamp of the right wattage, or an LED curing lamp specifically made for curing gel polish. Some people have used other UV lamps to cure their gel polish (reptile bulbs, etc), but ymmv.

Is it safe? The average UV lamp uses 4x 9 watt bulbs, so 36 watts. In comparison, a home tanning bed uses between 12-28x 100 watt bulbs, so 1200-2800 watts, while a salon tanning bed uses between 24-60x 100 or even 200 watt bulbs, so between 2400-12000 watts. This makes a home UV gel nail curing lamp much safer to use, especially considering that it only needs to be used minutes at a time.

Q) I bite my nails! How do I stop?
A) The easiest way to remind yourself to stop biting your nails (or to prevent them altogether due to your nail being so thick) is to cover them with polish. Textured polishes, polishes that dry to a hard glossy and thick finish, and taking care of your nails so you don’t have ragged edges or hanging cuticles will go a LONG way toward preventing nail biting.

Q) No matter what brand it is, polish never lasts on my nails and chips or lifts off in sheets within a day or two. How do I change this?
A) File, buff and trim your nails. Make sure your nails are oil free (swipe with acetone).Use a good base coat (try the ‘sticky’ brands on your nail – e.g. CND Stickey, Orly Bonder, China Glaze Adhesion coat), a nail treatment, or simply a good clear polish as a base coat under your nails. Use a good top coat(see below) and wrap base coat, polish, and top coat around the edge of your nails.

Do not polish when your nails are wet (2 hours after a shower or more) and do not take a shower right after you polish your nails. The polish will not make a good bond with wet nails or any nails that are swollen from previously having been wet. A shower right after polishing your nails will similarly make your nails swell and possibly result in entire nails lifting off in sheets if the layers are thick and wet enough.

Q) Is a base coat really necessary to use?
A) Nope, it’s not necessary, but it does help prolong the life of a manicure and helps avoid permanent staining of your nails in some cases. If you choose to not use a base coat (or even a clear or light polish under your normal color) test out whether the polish you want to use stains your fingers. A quick application on your pinky and removal after a minute or two usually will let you know if a polish stains.

Q) I’d love to polish my nails but I don’t have three hours to spend on it every few days. Polish takes forever to dry! Help!
A) Use a fast dry top coat. These dry in one to two MINUTES (unless you glopped on a ton of polish under and it’s still very wet) and usually form a rock hard, shiny finish. They should be applied when the polish is still tacky, but not right away when the polish is wet.

Popular brands are: Seche Vite fast dry top coat (very well known, only one that contains toluene and sometimes can shrink polish), Poshe, Out the Door, Sally Hansen Insta-dry anti-chip, Nubar Diamont (new bottles where they went back to the old formula), Essie Fast Good to Go, etc). You can also try “drying drops” (SH, Nailtek, others) instead or together with a good glossy top coat. These are dropped onto polish and dripped off your nail.

A sidenote about quick dry top coats: less is not more with them! Apply a big glob, cover your nail, and wrap it down your nail edge. Applying very little can drag the polish under it, leave brush marks, not dry as fast (oddly) and chip faster.

Q) Ok, I tried Seche Vite and a third of the way down the bottle it started getting goopy, applies too thick and is basically useless. Is there a way to fix it?
A) This is the other big problem with Seche Vite – it evaporates much more than other quick dry top coats, possibly because it has toluene and possibly because it dries on the nail that much faster. You can use nail polish thinner to thin it out, or ideally thin it with a few drops every other time you use it as a top coat. You can also buy ‘Seche Restore’ which is specifically formulated to restore Seche Vite and which contains toluene and the right ratios of ethyl & butyl acetates. My experience with this has been: yes the lack of toluene is noticable. After thinning a bottle with regular (Sally’s) nail polish thinner I would get a lot more chipping on my nails (within a day or two) than with a new bottle of Seche Vite. Alternatively, you can use another brand of top coat which is slower, less glossy, but evaporates far less (or reserve Seche Vite use for when you have very little time).

Q) I used a quick dry top coat and it made my nail polish look terrible. It looks like the polish shrank around the edges or cuticle?!
A) Some nail polishes react badly to quick dry top coats, especially those that contain cellulose acetate butyrate. The slower the bottom layer dries, the more likely a quick dry top coat will pull at the bottom and drag it off from the edges. Seche Vite is reported to do this most often, possibly because it is the fastest drying or because it contains toluene (which most polishes these days do not, since most are 3-Free). Let your polish dry a bit (3-4 minutes) and wrap your nail edges to lessen the amount this happens. Some people find that some brands will shrink regardless – notably Zoya, and they need to use a different top coat.

Q) 3-Free? What?
A) Toluene, Dibutyl phthalate, and Formaldehyde (actually Formalin) are the “3 big chemicals” that have for the most part been phased out of most nail polishes (but not nail treatments or some top coats) since the late ’00s.

DBP is the most significant of these and one you want to avoid; it is a plasticizer that disrupts endocrine (hormone) functions. It is found in very few things these days, however. More info

Formaldehyde is a gas, and as such is not found in liquids such as nail polish. The chemical labeled ‘formaldehyde’ is actually formalin or methylene glycol and it is fairly safe. Formaldehyde resin is a different matter entirely, and is safe (or at least safer, except for people allergic to it) and is found in most 3-Free polishes. The reason I say ‘fairly safe’ is because formalin, over time, does release small amounts of formaldehyde, the gas, which is a human carcinogen, since these two chemicals exist in a reversible reaction with each other. An awesome article from a chemist on this: http://www.labmuffin.com/2012/03/bi…rmaldehyde.html

Toluene is a central nervous system depressant and carcinogen, and when inhaled in large quantities (much larger than in nail polish) can accumulate in your liver and kidneys. It evaporates very fast however, and inhalation is the main danger when using polishes with toluene in them. So, a well ventilated area helps if you are using polishes with Toluene in them (Seche Vite). More info: http://www.labmuffin.com/2012/03/big-3-toluene.html

In addition, some products are labeled 4-Free or 5-Free. The ‘4’ refers to camphor, which is present in a wide variety of cosmetics and cold medicines. In nail polish camphor is a plasticizer (so, takes the place of DBP functionally) that accumulates in the liver, especially if ingested or used on the skin, and is also a lung irritant (which is why Vick’s vapor rub works). It has *not* been found to be a mutagen or carcinogen in in vitro nor animal studies, so is safe for pregnant women. As a side note, it has also not been found to have any medicinal benefit except as an embalming agent (so, skin uses only) and decongestant. So, pretty much: don’t drink your nail polish

The ‘5’ refers to Formaldehyde Resin, which is fairly frequently used in polishes as a hardener and is a reaction between formaldehyde (a gas) and toluenesulfonamide. It is fairly inert, is not listed as a carcinogen nor does it exist in a reversible reaction with anything that can be a carcinogen. It does however usually trigger allergies for people who are allergic to formaldehyde AND can even cause some people, rarely, to develop allergies (swollen cuticles, skin) to it even if they did not have an allergy to formaldehyde before.

A list of brands broken down by ingredient/safety type
http://alicenoir.wordpress.com/2011…ee-nail-polish/ This list is OK but it is not perfect, and different polishes within a brand might have different formulas (most notably glitters vs non glitters tend to differ). One thing to keep in mind is that some companies are relabeling formaldehyde resin as tosylamide resin, which is the more chemically specific term for the resin used (as formaldehyde resin is a class of different compounds and not just one). So do check for ‘tosylamide resin’, ‘ethyl tosylamide’ or tosylamide epoxy’ as possible terms that might be substituted in for formaldehyde resin if this ingredient is a concern.

Q) I love holographic polishes but a lot of them are patchy, drag, and apply TERRIBLY. What can I do to improve application?
A) Use a ‘holographic aqua base’ specifically made for holo polishes, layer them over a base color or less holographic polish of the same color, or (cheapest yet) buy “nail foil glue” which is virtually the same as “holographic aqua base.”

Not all holographic polishes are created equally. The ones that are super duper shiny have a large amount of finer grade metal pigments (holographic pigment is unique in that it is a composition of magnesium fluoride and aluminum) instead of micas or lake dyes. These highly shiny ones will be a lot harder to apply, react differently than normal polishes and dry to very flat, thin metal films.

If you don’t have any of the above, you CAN still apply these goopier holos: overload the brush with polish, do not wipe any of it off, apply polish in one swipe (do not go over the same patch twice) and do not let the brush touch your nail. Sort of ‘glide’ it on. Let it dry VERY well before doing another layer.

Q) This neon polish sucks! It’s streaky, sheer and dries matte. Now what?
A) Unfortunately neon dyes dry matte and are often sheer. Expect to use 3-4 layers of neon polishes, especially the lighter shades. Consider using white polish as a base, and a top coat for gloss.

Q) I love chunky glitters but I hate the texture on my nails. Is there a way around this without doing 3+ layers of top coat?
A) Consider using a “ridge filling” type base/top coat (that is clear), such as American Classics Gelous base coat, which is thick and self-levels. Then slap on your fast dry top coat on top.

Q) I love glitter nail polish but I never use it because it takes forever to take off! What gives?
A) Use the ‘foil method’ to remove glitter polishes. Take a small piece of cotton ball, dip it in acetone (or acetone based at the very least), place it over your nail, wrap your nail in aluminum foil. Wait 5-10 minutes and the glitter should slide off.

Q) Acetone?! Isn’t that bad for me?
A) Nope, it’s a a safe solvent, mostly because of how fast it evaporates and how little time it spends on your skin. I wouldn’t sit around huffing it obviously, and should be used in a well ventilated area (as should nail polishes). Overall however, it removes polish quickly, and as a result sits around on your skin for a far shorter time than non-acetone removers, so fewer things to get absorbed into your skin and less drying out of your skin. Check out the glycerine+acetone combo you can make as a do-it-yourself remover. Pure acetone can be found in drugstores (sometimes) as can glycerine; a reliable source for large quantities of cheap pure acetone is Sally Beauty.

Q) My nails are discolored from using a dark nail polish! Should I try a bleaching product?
A) NO. Just let them grow out naturally and in the future use a good base coat to protect from nail staining. The bleaching products damage nails almost always – weaken, dry them out, make them flake. You can try soaking your bare nails in lemon juice or baking soda, using a sugar/hand scrub or very lightly buffing them out. Buffing nails weakens nails so do not overdo it!

Fun fact: FD&C Yellow No 5 Lake dye, and FD&C Reds 6, 7, and 34 are the pigments most associated with staining of keratin (and skin too), so these might be the ones to check ingredient lists for if you’ve had previous staining.

Q) Are you guys photoshopping your nails to look so clean? All the nail blogs I run into have these super fake looking nails with clean edges. How do I apply polish so neatly?
A) Two answers: practice (check the ‘how to apply polish’ video links in the OP) and cleanup. Buy a thin paint brush (an angled eyebrow brush works well for this) and use pure acetone to remove excess polish after you apply it. That line below cuticles you often see in nail blogs? Due to the brush cleanup. Cleanup often works best when the polish is semi dry, versus completely, and before you put on any fast dry top coats (which are harder to remove).

Q) What are those really detailed, precise patterns on some nails that I see? ‘Stamping’?
A) Nail stamping is basically what it sounds like – nail polish applied to and swiped across a metal plate that has designs etched into them. The polish is lifted on a soft rubber stamper, and the inverse of the image on the plate is ‘rolled’ onto your nail (since nails are curved). Konad is a Korean company that kicked off this trend, so this is also called “Konad nail art” or “Konad stamping.”

Q) Now that I read this thread, I find myself with twenty times the amount of nail polish that I had before? Where do I put it all?
A) Helmers from Ikea are really popular ($40ish), or Michaels makes a mini version (http://i.imgur.com/unK36.jpg). Helmers have six drawers, are about two and a half feet high, and store 7×11+ a few extra staggered polishes per drawer (450-500 total). Each Michael’s drawer holds about 120 or so. Posters in the last thread also used shoe boxes, various storage containers, toolchests from Costco and in one case a huge wooden library catalogue holder (awesome!).

If you do buy a Helmer be aware that you need to assemble it yourself. This is generally easy but there are a couple of issues to watch for – some screws do not have predrilled holes and it can be hard to screw them in evenly, and be careful about bending the metal pieces the correct way (as having to redo it and bend them the other way weakens the metal). A guide to assembling a Helmer.

Q) Where can I get stuff to make swatches? Anything I need to know?
A) You can get nail wheels at Sally Beauty ($5-6 for a bunch of wheels, about 200 nails worth), ebay, or a bunch of other shops (check shop list, salon supplies). The other alternatives to nail wheels, which are hard to write on and compare individual polishes are swatchsicles – either homemade popsicle sticks + nail tips glued on top, or clear nail displays on a stick. I recommend the popsicle sticks or similar, standing up in a container or a mug, for ease of comparing colors and seeing what you have in one glance.

Swatching your collection will do wonders to avoid buying dupes, helping see where you have holes in your collection, and picking out polish combinations. Some styles of available swatches.

Some of the swatch options are made with plastic that are not solvent (acetone) resistant! Usually the clear ones. The Sally’s wheels are solvent resistant, and are handy to have on hand if you want to compare polishes on the fly or especially if you are making frankens or want to try out temporary layer combinations.

Q) I’d like to get some polishes from abroad but I can’t find any place that mails to my country and/or rates for the same polishes are exorbitant in my country if I can find it at all. Any other options?
A) You can consider swapping or getting a fellow polish collector to buy it for you. Ask here and maybe someone has access to it. Makeup Alley (http://www.makeupalley.com/) also has a large swap board and reviews for members to rate their exchanges.

Q) I set up a swap but nail polish is listed as a hazardous explosive. How can I ship things?
A) The safest way to ship polish, especially large quantities, is by ground shipping (UPS ground), which is how all the mail order polish companies ship. However, most swappers have had luck shipping via the USPS, especially low amounts of polishes (1-4). Padded envelope and bubble wrap are highly recommended since these are fragile objects, or ideally a small box of some sort (such as a priority mail flat rate box, or a smaller one for first class). ‘Cosmetics’ or ‘art supplies’ declared on the customs form is a better bet than ‘NAIL POLISH YES GORGEOUS PINK SPARKLY FLAMMABLE NAIL POLISH IN THIS HERE BOX’. Probably.

This has worked for packages to & from the US as far as I have heard, and most other countries as well EXCEPT for Australia. Australian Post apparently ships all packages over 1 lb with Fedex, and Fedex x-rays all such packages (and charges them extra) and has returned polish swap packages to many people that have tried to mail. I do not know whether very small amounts of polish, way under 1 lb, can easily be mailed out of Australia, whether such packages also go via Fedex or whether they are just not x-rayed.

This restriction tends to include larger companies that sell nail polish as well, so you will have a hard time obtaining Australian polishes (such as Ozotic and Glitter Gals) directly from Australian companies (although there are indie shops that sell imported Aus polishes, such as llarowe.com and ninjapolish.com).

Q) What’s up with the title of the thread? (Longer, Harder and Covered in ManGlaze is the title as of this posting.)
A) Manglaze is a brand of (great quality, matte) polish for men with a funny name, great marketing and graphics that is run by a bunch of very ‘metal’ guys. Check out their brown shade named “Santorum.” (For hilarity+ check out the brand “Alphanail” and their ads for how not to do nail polish for men: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujPBA2HKPus).

Q) I’m a guy, want to wear polish but want to keep it subtle. What do I wear?
A) Try matte finish polishes and darker shades that you like. Nail treatments also come in matte (and are usually clear) so there’s totally no excuse for you not to find something you like. Like Alphanail ™ says, nail polish is manly ™. We welcome and love any and all over man(ly) posters!