I was never one for getting weekly manis and pedis. I usually saved that for special occasions. But after becoming a mommy, I found that such activities were not only indulgences, but in my world, almost an extinct practice. My definition of pampering had changed into just having 5 minutes alone in the bathroom or using leftover avocado from my little one’s lunch to rub into the ends of my hair. It was only when my husband treated me to a day at the spa that I realized just because I’m a mom now doesn’t mean I can’t pamper myself, even if it’s at home.

I had become well aware of the condition of my nails and how downhill they were going shortly after the birth of my child. Due to constant hand and bottle washing, they were uneven, discolored and just plain unattractive. Getting my nails done would be just the thing to make me feel a little more like myself and allow me to have something nice to look at while handling all those poopy diapers. But I certainly could never find the time to go to the salon and I wasn’t interested in painting my nails at home just to have my polish chip a few hours later. I remembered vaguely reading about a gel polish that lasted 2 weeks and most importantly, could be done at home. This excited me and it was then I decided to take matters into my own hands (no pun intended). With the help of Amazon.com, I was able to collect all the necessities.

Thermal Spa UV lamp, CND base and top coat, CND Solaroil, Anti UV Gloves, 99% Isopropyl Alcohol, Cuticle Stick

The pic above is of all the essentials.  Course you also need color.  And once you get started, trust me, you’ll want them all.

My color collection thus far

The manicure itself is fairly easy to do.  I don’t have the time to soak, scrub and massage my hands and even if I did, it’s never quite the same as having it professionally done. So I skip all the fancy parts of a manicure and just go straight to the file and polish bit.

Once you’ve shaped your nails, wash and dry your hands and apply your CND Shellac base coat. I believe the instructions said to ‘cure’ them under the UV light for 10 or 20 seconds but I do it for the full 2 minutes. Then apply your first coat of CND Shellac color, dry under the lamp for 2 minutes and repeat with a second coat.  Finally apply the top coat, and once again cure for 2 minutes.  Something to keep in mind is once the polish has been cured/dried, any mistakes will have dried as well.  Best to keep a cuticle stick handy to wipe away any polish that has gotten onto your skin to avoid it from adhering to your finger. Then soak a paper towel in 99% isopropyl alcohol and wipe each manicured finger with it. This is a must to remove any stickiness on your nails left by the top coat. Don’t worry, you won’t ruin your manicure even if a little polish stains the paper towel. I have tried using plain old rubbing alcohol that I found in my first aid kid but apparently the concentration is not high enough to effectively remove the stickiness left behind, so please, find yourself the 99% one.

There has been some controversy about this type of manicure due to the time your hands spend under a UV lamp.  This is why I think it’s crucial to pick up a pair of anti UV gloves to wear from the start of your manicure to when you have finished.  You could also rub sunblock on your hands and fingers but from my experience I find it a bit too greasy and it affects how well I paint my nails.

There is a proper way to remove your polish.  I believe you can buy polish removing wraps from CND but I tend to wait for the polish to start peeling (after two weeks), and then I just peel all of it off.  I’m sure this is not the recommended procedure and I am certainly not suggesting you follow my method, but for me, the condition of my nails have not changed in doing so. I also make sure to massage solaroil into my finger nails every few days.

All in all, this type of manicure takes only 30 minutes to do and I usually do so after I have put my little one to sleep (no interruptions!). I do one hand from start to finish before I move onto the other. That seems to help a lot for this type of manicure.  After just a few applications, you will have made up for the cost of this at home kit and I definately feel it’s well worth it in order to feel just a little bit prettier.

Waiting at the bank with my week old manicure. Still so glossy!