Manicures and Nail Extensions - Types and Tips

Lee Redmond is a woman with a mission - or maybe she's just plain lazy. Although she's pushing 60, the Salt Lake City, Utah resident hasn't cut her fingernails since 1979. The longest one reached almost three feet - until this February, that is. That's when Lee was in a car accident, and although she suffered no life-threatening injuries, her nails didn't survive.

nailsIt's not all bad news, however. Despite the loss of her nails, Lee is still the Guinness Book of World record holder for the female with the longest fingernails. The question is: how did she ever manage to pick her nose in all those years? or Natural Manicure for Getting Beautiful Nails and Hands Or did she get someone else to do it?

If, like Lee, you can't stand to cut your own nails - or want them to look longer and longer - then read on...

Artificial Nails

Three main types of nail enhancements, or extensions, exist, each of which can make bitten, ugly nails appear long and beautiful. How realistic - and ultimately attractive - they look is largely down to the skill of the nail artist.

Acrylic: Powder and liquid are mixed together to make a fake nail that is stuck on top of your own nail, then sculpted into shape. These are the most hard-wearing of all nails and are good for women who work with their hands, such as waitresses, typists etc.

UV Gel: Gel that is of a honey-like consistency is applied to the nails then set under a UV lamp. More flexible than acrylic nails.

Wrap: Suitable for people who already have strong nails but want to make them even stronger. A type of resin glue is applied to fabric, silk, fiberglass or other substance, then put onto the nail itself and shaped.

Nail Art

Sometimes having longer nails isn't enough. Some people like to have their (Natural Manicure for Getting Beautiful Nails and Hands) nails festooned with sparkles, studs, drawings, painting and glitter. Nail art, literally painting decorative designs on finger and toenails, is becoming increasingly popular, whether to brighten up a special occasion outfit or to make a daily statement.

The key to having beautiful nail art is to start with beautiful nails. If yours are bitten down to the quick, apply acrylic ones first. Once they are shaped and sculpted, apply a neutral base then start drawing your chosen design with a fine-tipped brush. Cheaters can buy pre-made stick-on gems and other designs, smarter cheaters (with more cash to spare) can have everything done for them by a professional.

Once you have a design you are happy with, apply a clear coat of polish every two - three days to protect it. It's also recommended to wear gloves if you need to perform a task that could harm your nails, or the design. It's all up to you! And don't start going crazy with the nose picking...

Manicure Types

If you're content with your nails the way they are but just want them to look healthier or perhaps a bit more sophisticated, then a manicure may be all you need...

Regular Manicure: If you're not already an old hand at this (pun intended), then read on. Old polish is taken away, the hands are moisturized and cuticles are softened, pushed back and/or removed. Nails are filed and/or shaped then a base coat is applied, followed by two to three coats of color and a top coat.

French Tip Manicure: Everyone wants to look French, and these days that no longer means wearing a beret and painting on a fake mustache. The very idea of France evokes a certain type of "je ne sais quoi" that is appealing to the average American. So if you want to look as sophisticated as Brigitte Bardot (about 35 years ago, that is, before she went crazy and started piling her gray hair on top of her head), then get yourself a French manicure.

French manicures are when a nail stylist files your nails, then paints the tips white to make it look as though they are longer. The effect is clean, natural and fresh, a good look for short or medium-length fingernails. Whether you choose bright white or beige polish, your nails will look strong and healthy. Applying a top coat every evening will prolong the effect. TIP: Don't make them too long or they won't look, eerm, realistic.

Natural Nail Manicure. Concentrates on making nails look as God made 'em - only better. Relies on making the nails stronger and the skin on the hands softer through natural means, without nail color of any kind. Good for busy, active women who don't have the time - or inclination - to keep up with nail color.

Hot Oil Manicure: Good for people who are seeking to actually condition their talons, rather than simply making them appear more beautiful. A hot oil is applied to the cuticles, so they are softened and can be pulled back or taken away more easily. Allows for a better shape when the nail is filed and sculpted.

Top Tips for Do-It-Yourself Home Manicures

If we could all give ourself perfect home manicures effortlessly and painlessly, there would be no need to visit a manicurist. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us end up with badly painted chipped polish on top of chipped and uneven nails. But if you don't have the cash to visit your local nail salon, follow Natural Manicure for Getting Beautiful Nails and Hands:

* Never use a tissue to take off old polish - unless you want tiny bits of tissue ruining the look of your hands. A cotton ball will do the trick much better.

* File your nails into either square or rounded shapes - acquiring a square look is a lot easier for novices, unless you prefer nails that are uneven and lopsided.

* Soften nails with either a special nail cream or soak them in warm water for several minutes. If you are doing a pedicure, you might want to get started immediately after a warm bath.

* Press cuticles back with a special stick you can buy cheaply from any drugstore. Cutting them is not recommended for health and hygiene reasons.

* A base coat is recommended, especially if you go for the darker shades, which over time can discolor nails. Then apply two coats of color, followed by a top coat.

* Splashing out on a top-quality nail polish can be a good idea. Cheaper ones can be clumpy and lumpy, and may also chip faster.

* Children will love quick-drying nail polish - looks a lot better than smudged nails!

* Always moisturize your hands afterwards for best effect. And if you don't have time to apply fresh polish, take off the old one and have naked, clean nails - Natural Manicure for Getting Beautiful Nails and Hands, flakey ones!

Putting the "Man" Back Into Manicure

Women are not the only people who can benefit from a decent manicure. While the vast majority of men would balk at having long nail extensions or hot pink nail polish, a discreet manicure can work a world of wonder on their hands.

Usually the hands are massaged with moisturizer, the cuticles pushed back and the nails trimmed and shaped, then buffed to a dull matte finish. Some men like a thin coating of clear polish, others prefer to go au naturel.

Sarah Matthews is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a Healer at Yodle Local or more Health & Medicine articles at Yodle Consumer Guide.