Lessons Learned: Part IX – Nails

The other night after closing up Chams HQ, I was sat in my car removing my nail polish. Having fancy nails is something I enjoy and as I switched from fab to drab, I realised I’d not written anything about nails in the Lessons Learned series.

First off, let’s get the usual disclaimer out of the way, in that this post is based on my own experiences in muddling through life. I am not recieving any kick backs from any products I mention. Shame, as honesty lets you sleep well, even if it doesn’t pay to keep the heating on 😉

The Choices

Over the years I’ve tried the following with various levels of success and, uhh, could-do-better. 🙂

  • Nail polish (my go-to choice)
  • Glue on false nails
  • Pre-glued false nails
  • Nail wraps

Regardless of the option you go for, your nails need to be clean, free of oil (what out after putting your slap on), and trim. For the latter, I don’t mean short, but you don’t want them uneven or jagged. Take care of your cuticles and and hang nails before you start.

The Elegant Touch range

Nail Polish – putting it on

Like other cosmetics, it seems there’s no limit on what you can spend, but for part timers, splashing the cash on something that’s short term wear, well it seems a bit of a false economy. I think you want the sweet spot between not very good and too pricey.

The Revlon quick dry range and Rimmel seem pretty good and the Boots No 7 ones do as well. All of them have a reasonable thickness, dry well, and take around two coats for a good finish. Boots do a rather good, IMHO, gel finish style polish that goes on brilliantly and removes without too much fuss as well.

There’s various techniques you can follow and I would say that a look on YouTube would be a good way to see the ones that appeal to you. Like with makeup, it is about practice, and if first you don’t succeed, keep going, you will get there.

Some folk like to put in a base layer to help provide a smoother surface. If you’re going for a dark colour, this can also help reduce your mail being stained. Oh, and a base coat can protect your nails from glue, if you go down the false nail route.

In terms of applying the layers, I’m usually able to do my nails in about six to twelve minutes start to finish. That is not a brag, but an indication of keeping practicing and finding the product that works for you. If you take longer or less time, that’s cool: we’re all different.

Oh, ProTip: be wary of plastic bags. There’s something about then that’ll rip your beautifully done nails, even if you think they’re touch dry.

Nail Polish – so many colours

There is a massive range of shades from the vanilla, fancy, natural, and outrageous. The choice is, clearly, yours to make. What I would ask is you take a moment to consider how your colour choice good with your look. Okay, we’re well beyond the 80s trend of lips and polish matching 🙂, however I would say there’s a difference in daytime and nighttime looks. Some folk only wear pale colours and if that works for them, that’s cool. Others love reds or darker shades, and that’s fine. If you can, do experient a little and you may find a new style that you love.

Nail Polish – taking it off

You can go Old School with some cotton wool balls and a bottle of nail varnish remover. Soak the bank until it’s damp and then press gently against the nail. After a breath or two, wipe slowly to one side and repeat the press them wipe routine. You may need to change the pad as it gets discolored.

Alternatively, a few high street shops will sell a ‘speed pot’ or suchlike. This is a squat tub that’s about fist sized. Look in the nail care section, natch 🙂 Is contains a foam pad and polish remover. It works by popping your finger in, turning it slowly, and the foam plus remover takes away the varnish. Having used this for a few years, this is my main ‘deprincess’ routine for my fingers.

Crafty types may wish to try a glass jar and a foam insert – you need a good firm fit – with a slot to pop your finger in. Top up with enough nail polish remover and do check the lid is on really well.

Nail varnish remover has a distinct smell, so if you’re in stealth, so to speak, make sure the address is well ventilated or you are not at home.

Faking It

Kiss do a pre-glued range that those of you with small to medium hands may find fit okay. They have an adhesive back that’s protected by a protective backing. If you store these carefully and remove with care, you can get three to six wears out of a set. Make sure your nails are clean and not too oily if you’ve been applying moisturiser previously.

Pre-glued press on nails

The standard shapes are on the longer side, so if you’re looking for something less glam and more daytime, you can trim them if you’re careful. Again, ProTip: if you’ve a set that’s seen better days, experient on then and not your lovely new set.

If you’re going down the glue and false nail route, I would recommend putting in the practice before you big night out. Plus, don’t forget a coat of clear nail varnish before you apply the glue. It’s too protect your nails and help remove the glue afterwards. Also, be careful of not putting on too much glue and do use a towel or magazine to protect your clothes and work surface. Also, just like painting your nails, you will need to give the glue time to stick. Be wary of jumping into the car and then having to find the lost nail. 🙂

French tips

If you find that getting pre coloured false nails in your size a pain, how about this idea. Buy a large selection and find the ones that fit your paws. Rather than faff about with glueing and removing, careful balancing or a tiny piece of BluTak can be used to test for fit.

Now, when it comes to keeping them, keep a ruler and apply ten lumps of BluTak. You guessed it, one for each nail. Now you have them lined up for fit and if you’re careful, you could paint them before you apply. There’s plenty of time to do three coats. Two for colour and a protective top coat if you want. 👍


These seem to come and go in terms of availability and price. If you love a fancy pattern or ‘nail art’, wraps let you apply a sort of sticker to your nail. You apply gently by pressing or rubbing the material to your nail. Most seem to remove with standard nail varnish remover.

If you’re looking to stock up or fancy saving a few pennies, the post Xmas Party Season can be a good time to buy.

I’ve used wraps a handful of times – no pun intended – and as I’m more a plain colour gal, I have drifted back to using polish. You may be different and that’s fine.

Being fancy in your home office


That’s a summary of what I’ve tried over the years. You may have techniques or brands you prefer, and that’s fine. As I’ve said before, take your time and put the hours in. Well, so to speak. Applying polish or false nails is a skill and you will need to practice. It’s okay to make mistakes as they are part of the learning process.

L x


  1. Several top tips for top tips that I wasn’t aware of. I shall put these into practice. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Just a thought. You might like to include the subject matter in the title of your Lessons Learned posts (e.g. Lessons Learned: Part IX – nails) so each topic is easier to find.
    Nice work on your own nails there. BTW your hands are quite feminine.
    Sue x

    1. Just paying it forward, Sue. Hopefully the shared experiences may help others shortcut things a little.

      Yes, the titles could be different. I’ve updated them on the Resources menu item, but I’ve kept the URLs as is.

      Maybe a rethink it’s required…. after a suitably invigorating extra strong cup of tea. 🙂

      PS: thanks for the kind words regarding my mits. Perhaps the hormones in the womb didn’t get far enough down my arms. 😁

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