I have always been fond of pampering my hands, putting some nail polish on my nails and making them look all pretty, but more often than not, I seemed to succum to 'broken nail syndrome' where I'd finally get my nails looking great, then one or more would break, leaving my pampered manicure looking uneven and sad, or "peely chipped syndrome" where my nails were so weak they would bend and peel causing the nail polish to come off and end up making the whole manicure look drab....
So you can imagine my joy during pregnancy when I was totally blessed with strong healthy nails that did not seem to break, peel and just get longer and longer (in fact I had to keep cutting/filing them to ensure they don't get too long and talon like!). I'm thinking my luck was either due to one of those natural pregnancy advantages some people get or the fact I'm taking more vitamins than normal. Who knows... I just know I certainly wasn't complaining.
So while I had the best nails of my life, I therefore decided I had to keep doing them during pregnancy, but for obvious reasons I wanted to avoid any of the harsh toxic chemicals that some nail polishes contain, the most concerning being: Formeldehyde, Toluene and Dibutyl Phlalate. Formeldehyde is a known carcinogen, Toluene is a human reproductive and developmentmental toxin and (to think it couldn't get any worse) dibutyl phlalate can cause birth defects in the developing fetus. It's amazing what is still used in some products today.
In my search for less-toxic alternatives I came across a number of nail polish brands that do not contain these ingredients and whilst there are some top-end brands, it was nice to know some of the cheaper brands have also removed them from their formula.
Here are some brands which I've found do not contain the three worrying chemicals: Zoya, Face of Australia, Chi Chi, Savvy, butter/LONDON.. and if you want to avoid chemicals altogether there are these: Suncoat Water-Based Polish, and Honeybee Gardens Water-Based Polish. These harsh chemical ingredients seem to be getting less and less though so you might find that there are heaps of other brands that don't have them either. It's always wise to check the ingredients list though before you buy as some specific colors or formulas may contain them.
Anyway, once you've found yourself a beautiful, toxic-free nail polish - time to put it on! ... here are my tips for the perfect manicure:
1. Before you paint your nails dab them with some nail polish remover (this removes all the oils and dirt that stops polish from sticking!) Just rinse your hands afterwards with water and soap, and use a nail brush if you want.
2. Always use a base coat. It will help the top coat stick, meaning your nail polish will last longer.. and will prevent your nails from being stained from some of the darker polishes.
3. Do at least 2 thin even coats. Don't spread the polish on thickly as it will not dry properly and will chip off. Give yourself plenty of time where you don't have to use your hands, and do two coats, allowing 5-10 mins between them.
4. Don't worry about getting some polish on your fingers around the nail. Don't wipe off. Wait til your nails are dry and when you take a shower, just lightly rub the skin where the polish is and it should come off easily under the hot water.
5. Always do a top coat (clear) which will seal the colored polish. Wait a while before you do this coat though (I usually do it a couple of hours later or the next day). Just make sure you wash your hands to get rid of any oils that might be sitting on the nails before you do the top coat.
6. When you're completely finished. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! And continue to do so. Keep your hands and cuticles nice and supple and soft, and it will help your nails remain strong and healthy.
7. Every so often, strip your nails and leave them 'naked' without polish for at least a few days to breathe. During this time use a cuticle oil (Solar Oil is a good one) or vitamin e oil (just prick a liquid capsule and squeeze it on!) on your nails, and moisturise your hands with a quality cream.
Ta Da! Good Luck xo