Just last fall I finally tried a gel manicure for the first time. I know, I'm a latecomer to that party but boy was I hooked. The gel made my thin, bendy nails tough and resilient, and the polish itself lasted for weeks despite doing dishes, taking baths, swimming. I mean, just check out this flawless mani:
Thing is, the gel removal process can be a tough on weaker nails, and my gals at The Ten Spot told me it's wise to give your nails a break every three visits or so.
Well, I didn't heeded their advice (who can resist that long-lasting polish?!), so after six months of back-to-back gel (oops), my nails were in need of some TLC. Derp. Sure they were long, but they were thin and sad.
Enter CND. CND is the company that created the original Shellac nail polish and put gel on the map, a pretty solid claim to fame in the beauty world. Turns out they've put together a complete nail rescue kit for those times your nails need a break. YES! I've been testing their kit for a month and I'm excited to share it with you. Here's a little peek:
My CND Rescue Kit included:
RescueRXx Daily Keratin Treatment, $19.95/15ml bottle
This is the workhorse of the whole kit, the product that does a lot of heavy lifting. I thought this would be another strengthening nail polish or base coat like countless others I've tried, but it's actually an oil. CND RescueRXx Daily Keratin Treatment is meant to be applied to clean, bare, polish-free nails twice a day for at least a week.
That was a challenge for me because I *hate* having bare nails, largely because it usually means they'll break off. But you know how you use a face mask every so often for a deep treatment? Think of this as the equivalent for your nails. Yes it takes time, but you'll see results: less splitting, less peeling, and even those annoying white spots will start to fade.
Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner, $9/7.3ml bottle
Smells like marzipan! If Rescue RXx is like a treatment mask, think of CND Solar Oil as your daily moisturizer. Don't skip it! I massaged this deliciously scented oil into my nails and cuticles (and even dry, patchy skin) every night before bed (even when I had polish on), and whoa, what a difference. It takes some time to sink in (hence nighttime is perfect) but it really helps to hydrate weak, stripped nails and dry cuticles.
Cuticle Eraser A.H.A. Cuticle Treatment, $24.99/49g tube
That scent! CND Cuticle Eraser is a super light crème that smells slightly fruity and sinks in IMMEDIATELY. There's zero residue or greasiness so keep this one in your bag and apply it as often as you like. I even used it all over my hands but maybe that's cheating.
Vinylux Weekly Polish
I've been a fan of CND Vinylux Weekly Polish since it launched in 2013, because it offered longer wear without the need for UV or LED lamps. Pros: it's much more durable than regular polish, won't damage your nails, and it great during breaks from gel polish. Cons: doesn't last as long as gel (on me, 5-7 days vs. 2-3 weeks), and it doesn't have the instant drying time of gel polish. But apply 2-3 thin coats while you're bingeing on Netflix and you'll have no trouble.
CND sent me Be Demure #214 (baby pink crème), Lavender Lace #216 (pale lavender shimmer), Desert Poppy #163 (snappy coral with a touch of shimmer), and Date Night #221 (bright blue crème). I've tested all four and they wore equally well. My favourite combo for a summery mani/pedi? Desert Poppy on nails and Date Night on toes. Added bonus: all Vinylux shades have an exact twin in the CND Shellac collection, so you can still enjoy your favourite shade even if you switch back to gel.
And in case you do want a professional CND mani, one of the very best CND nail bars in Ottawa is Forbes Beauty Co. Pop by and see them in Hintonburg; it's an adorable spa and Laura and her team are wonderful.
Vinulyx Weekly Top Coat, $11.95/15ml bottle
Unlike regular polish, Vinylux doesn't need a base coat, only a top coat. CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat seals in polish and I've found that it makes even white and pastel polishes less prone to chipping. It's not a quick-dry solution but on the upside, it won't cause the shrinking or wibbly bits that are so common with quick-dries like Seche Vite.
Scrub Fresh Nail Surface Cleanser, $18/236ml bottle
CND Scrub Fresh will make sure your nail beds are spic and span, helping your polish lock onto the nail and stay put. It's not a nail polish remover; it's the nail equivalent of the facial toner you use after cleansing and before moisturizing. A swipe of Scrub Fresh means you won't have any build-up on the nail surface that could interfere with your polish and cause it to lift. This is what nail pros use to ensure gel manicures are long-lasting.
Nail File/Buffer, $2
CND's nail file and buffer is a handy little guy to keep in your purse. Since my nails are on the thin side, I like nail files like this one because they have fine and extra fine grit: use one side to gently shape and file (no shredding/tearing!) and the other to buff the surface of your nail.
So how are my nails now? They're still much shorter than they were, but they're much stronger and aren't peeling and splitting like they were before. In fact, they're healthy enough that I can go for another gel mani in a week or two. ;)
WHERE TO BUY CND
Trade Secrets (in-store only)
Chatters Hair & Beauty Salons
Hair Essentials, 198 Bank St. (limited selection)
WIN A CND NAIL RESCUE KIT!
Surprise! I've got a CND kit that one of you can win! The contest is open across Canada and the prize is a #CNDRescueKit that contains:
- 4 CND Vinylux Weekly Polishes from the Summer 2016 "Flirtation" collection
- 1 CND Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner
- 1 CND RescueRXx Daily Keratin Treatment
I've given you a whole slew of entry options in the Rafflecopter widget below: enter as many ways as you like (all are optional), and the more actions you complete the more times your name goes into the hat. Good luck everyone! I'll announce a winner this weekend.