Nailing it with OPI Natural Nail Strengthener

I just wanted to take a moment and talk to you about one of my peek gardening season BFFS. During the spring my nails get pretty beat up. There is weeding out what grew in the garden over the winter, there is digging and planting for spring and summer, there is weeding after planting, and weeding when the invasive vines think that you added all those lovely soil amendments for their benefits and oh yeah, more weeding.

even with gloves my nails get chipped and break with routine frequency.

One of the products I use constantly at this time of year is the OPI Natural Nail Strengthener. It applies like polish and actually looks like a shiny top coat so if you are running around it looks like you have clear polish on. After a day and a half it will start to peel off, all of the goodness absorbed into the nails. At this time of year I just take it off and apply another coat. I will keep doing this repeatedly through out the heavy gardening months.

While it won’t prevent breakage, we do have far too many rocks and far too dense a soil for that, what it does do is it keeps most of those breaks from going down deep. I may get a few chips along the nail tips, but my hails won’t break down to the quick. For me, that is the best result I could have and why each year I pick up a new bottle. It is a quick and easy way to look after your nails when you know you are going to abuse them.

Get $5 Off Your First Purchase when you join the Sally Beauty Rewards Program!

Trying out the Exo Nail Polish Remover pad

I am a nail polish fan. I will use faux nails for occasions, especially when gardening has beaten my nails up despite the gloves (we have thick clay soil with lots of rocks, not good for nails). But nail polish removers can be a little harsh. Plus I have noticed that sometimes I won’t think about my nails until I am somewhere far from home and then realize how bad they look. So having a gentle nail polish remover around that comes in a coinvent little pouch I can toss in my purse for emergencies is not a bad idea.

Enter my beat up nails. This polish has actually done a pretty good job of lasting. It is a wet ‘n wild nail polish in case you are wondering. As long as I put a top coat over it, it tends to last fairly well. I did have this polish on when I was planting potatoes and as you can see…it needs to come off.

I thought that the darker polish would be a good test for the EXO Nail Polish Remover cloth. This particular one is lavender scented. According to the description I found on Sally Beauty

Stinky acetone- be gone! EXO Pure Remover is a safe and glamorous way to melt away even the darkest polishes. What makes it special? Removes Dark And Glitter Polishes, Biodegradable formula, Non-Drying Formula, No Harsh Chemicals, Naturally Scented, Non-Flammable, and Non-Toxic

Sally Beauty
the cloth

I’ll go ahead and let you know I did not try setting it on fire. i trust that it is non flammable. I also didn’t try eating it and will trust them that it is non-toxic Basically what I wanted to find out was would it take off the dark polish and and would it dry out my nail beds.

The cloth when extracted from the pouch was very lavender scented. There was no doubt that there was lavender oil inside the cloth. While I don’t mind the scent of lavender, in fact I rather enjoy it. I have to say it was a bit much and worse my fingers ended up very greasy. This I’m guessing aids with the non-drying nature.

Fair enough, but I think they went over board.

About the dark polish removal?

the oil

It worked well enough. There was bit of polish left over. It did take time to remove and at one point I went to wash my hands and a lot of the residue washed off with the lavender oil. So the polish remover did break down the polish enough that the dregs could mostly be washed away. I had to go back in around the edges with the cloth wrapped around the end of an orange stick to get the rest.

So it worked.

But here is the thing. This is the sort of product designed to toss into a purse or a travel makeup bag for use on the road. It isn’t something I would use at home. Even if the cloth is biodegradable I suspect the foil lined packaging is not and it would be a lot of waste to use this every time I took off my polish. Wile I would pick this up to travel with me, it is not something I would use quickly when going from place to place.

the results

The excess oil and need to rinse my hands to complete the removal process means that while it is probably better to travel with than a bottle of nail polish remover, you still need a sink. So use in a hotel room would be fine, use on a bus or train, probably not your best bet. As it was, in my house I left lavender scented finger prints on my way to the bathroom. It is a good product and I like that it was gentle, but it does have some limitations. As long as you keep those limitations in mind, you should be fine with the EXO Nail Polish remover cloths.

The Daily: April 25th, 2022

Can you believe this is the last week of April? I swear I have no idea how that happened. The months with only thirty days always seem to go fast, as do the month’s with holidays and this one had both, plus an extra visit. I’m pretty sure that was where all the time disappeared.

Sorry, it just sort of surprised me when i looked at the calendar this morning. It shouldn’t, but it did. So good Monday afternoon on this the last week of April. It is going to be a busy one. At least for me. This weekend the weather turned into spring and looked like it was going to permanently leave winter behind. How much Spring we get is always up for debate. Last year spring made a very brief appearance before summer came roaring in. I’m hoping for a little bit of a longer spring this year. But the spring planting is now done. All of the plants growing steadily in my greenhouse are now planted.

Well at least the first stringer are planted. Now that they are out, I am starting seeds for the next round and this week the direct sowing of seed will be done in the evenings. Then I just have to remember my watering schedule and hope that the weather is my friend this year instead of my enemy. My nails were demolished over the weekend and I have already started to look at a selection of ImPress nails for when I actually have to look presentable. I’ve also ordered a couple of nail treatment options to keep everything healthy.

I don’t know if you’ve tried Impress, but for me in the summer they are a life saver when i suddenly have to look presentable. Even with gloves gardening just does a number on my nails. ImPress and Kiss Nails are both part of the same parent company (I think Joah is also a part of them at least the website is all the same thing.) I like both Kiss and Impress, but Kiss tends to require nail glue (or at least the ones I’ve picked up do) and Impress has the sticky back attached. I prefer that since it is less of a mess. Plus the sticky back lasts about a week. Which means for me, I can do what needs doing in the garden Saturday morning, apply the nails for any Saturday Afternoon/evening events and then wear them all week. By the time I’m ready to work in the garden again, they are ready to come off. It is kind of the perfect solution for me.

After trashing my nails planting potatoes this weekend, I spent a great deal of time picking out a selection of colors. Which is usually the sign that my pre-summer stock up is imminent. I was amused to find they had tips and toes collections as well now so you can match everything. I can’t say I’ve ever thought of press on toenails but I can see the appeal. I might have to try those out at some point. But that is for another day.

Today’s Look:

Pre Makeup base: Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

Primer: Elf Poreless Putty Primer

Foundation: Yensa Super Serum Silk Foundation

Powder/Bronzer/blush/highlighter: Pur 4-in-1 Perfecting Powders Palette

Eyeshadow: Sandbar Mirage palette

Mascara: Big Poppa from Wet ‘n wild

Lips: Yensa Super 8 Lip oil in Pink Shine

While I am still testing out the Mirage palette from Sandbar, today was really all about the foundation. This is my first use of the New Yensa Silk Serum foundation. It is actually a new product. I can’t remember when it came out but it really hasn’t been out that long and it keeps selling out. I kept going onto the website and finding that it was out of stock. When it was an item in my IPSY bag this month I was thrilled. Especially since it arrived just a I was wrapping up the trial of the Yensa BC cream foundation (which I adore).

This was my first use of the foundation and thus far I kind of like it. The scent is slightly floral, slightly skincare scented. It reminds me of Vitamin C serums, which as this does have vitamin c in it shouldn’t be surprising. One pump was enough to cover my entire face, which was nice. Today I used it with a matte primer and I did not use concealer. I don’t think it is as glow-y as the BC cream so tomorrow I am going to try a non matte primer with it. I think it might work with them which would be nice. And as the look did come off a little more matte than I wanted I think illuminating primers might work better with this one.

Thus far it is performing well, however I think tomorrow I might roll in a concealer. I don’t think this formula is as full coverage as the BC cream. But for today this works as a good first use.

The Elf Primer and Big Poppa mascara are fantastic, as always.

I picked up the Pur palette because I just wanted something simple to grab and go. I tend to use this palette all summer but haven’t reached for it in a while. The reason is that the bronzer is my summer shade. It was too dark today so I spent a bit of time taming it down and blending it out. it worked in the end , but I think some of the powdery look today came from that. This is definitely a summer palette for me and despite spending time outside this weekend, my skin is not quite ready for it. This Is a July palette for me. I like the formulas, its just a bit dark at the moment.

And then we have the eyeshadow palette. Today I did a two matte look just to see how it worked. I only had to dip into the pan once for this brown. I did tap off the powder before applying. Then I blended it out. It was highly pigmented. I then used the matte pink to tame it down a bit. The two shades blended well together, but they were highly pigmented. Which is something to remember. Go in with a light touch and definitely tap off the brush or you will end up with fall out.

And I wrapped up with the Yensa Lip oil. It too is a favorite summer product. It is also one of the products that keeps me from snacking at my desk. When applied I just don’t want to eat anything until it absorbs. which it does after a time. It is a great looking gloss while you wait for it to absorb. It also smells slightly watermelon-y and doesn’t taste bad. I actually picked it up today not only because it looks good and is easy but because I need to look into reordering for Summer. I have a thumb’s width worth of product left and while I will use every drop, it is my favorite lip oil and I want to have it on hand.

And so that was today’s look. Mostly products I know with a couple to test out. And really the first day of trying out a new foundation is always about the foundation. It just covers too much of my face for it not to be. I think key for me is going to be thinking of this foundation as it’s own thing and not comparing it so much to the BC Full coverage. that is going to be the trick. i wanted to try them close together for comparison’s sake, but I need to see how they work independently.

But now it is back to work for me as we race towards the end of the month. Good luck with your own tasks for the day!

imPress Manicure - Bring The Salon Home

Let’s get Digital (Nails) With Sally

Recently I have been absolutely loving this <a href="http://<a href="; target="_top">Sally Beauty Deep Link</a>Miracle Gel from Sally Hansen. In itself it doesn’t look like much when painted onto bare nails. It gives them a subtle sheen, which is nice but not all that spectacular. Oe the top of matte nail polishes however, This color really sings.

Two of my favorite matte nail polishes are the Smith & Cult Doe My Dear and the OPI Nail Lacquer Not so Bora Bora-ing Pink. Both are really nice polishes on their own. They are actually the ones I tend to wear the most frequently if I am honest. The pink is is s a sort of dusty rose with a bit of a shine to it instead of being flat matte and the Smith & Cult is just a very understated shade that goes well with everything.

I have generally noticed that with each I can get about a week’s worth of nail color out of them before they start to chip. I’ve been experimenting with different top coats to see if I could extend the life of the polish. As I’ve experimented, I’ve learned that not all top coats are created equal.

Originally I picked this up thinking it was a pastel blue with some sheen. I did not realize it was clear with an iridescence to it. I was looking for a clear coat in the <a href="http://<a href="; target="_top">Sally Beauty Deep Link</a>Miracle Gel formula to try out, but that section of the rack was empty. Given how this performed I can see why.

OPI Alone

Once I realized that this was a coat that I could put over another polish I began playing around. First i tried it over the <a href="http://<a href="; target="_top">Sally Beauty Deep Link</a>OPI Not so Bora Bora-ing Pink. The pink undertones in the <a href="http://<a href="; target="_top">Sally Beauty Deep Link</a>Let’s Get Digital Miracle Gel from Sally Hansen match well with the pink base coat and add a nice depth to the polish.

I don’t know if these pictures quite do it justice.

(as a warning, I am a messy polisher. I tend not to worry about it too much and just polish my nails, let them dry completely and then go take a shower. By the time i’ve washed hair and body, my nails look better. Also I have recently been using a new hand sanitizer that has really dried out my skin. So if that sort of thing bothers you, you might not want to look too closely. I am almost out of that bottle and will be trying out the ESPA version that came in my Glossy Box).

OPI with the Let’s get Digital Top Coat

I know that the pairing with the Smith & Cult Doe My Dear do not come across as spectacular in photos as they are in real life. With the Smith & Cult, I really like the toned down color. It is a subtle color that goes well with everything. when I applied the <a href="http://<a href="; target="_top">Sally Beauty Deep Link</a>Let’s get Digital Miracle Gel over it, my nails, when i wiggle them in the light, have an iridescence to them shifts and glows as I move my fingers. It shows pink with an undertone of blue and oddly enough makes words like unicorn drift through my head. I think it reminds me of several products that use the word unicorn in them and have that sheen.

The color is quite stunning on the nails.

Smith & Cult alone

However it isn’t just looks that this formula provides. The miracle Gel formula also provides a really good top coat to the nails. It seals the color in and I found that instead of lasting only a week before chipping, I could almost double the length of time I could wear my manicure before I needed to take off the remnants and reapply polish. It wasn’t quite the full two weeks I made it about twelve days with both the OPI and Smith & Cult formulas.

Smith & Cult with the Let’s Get Digital Top Coat. I tried to catch the light to show the shine. I really like this combo and will be using it for a while.

Now I know what you are thinking. Glitter polish is a pain to take off. It practically has to be chipped off with a jack hammer and then still the color departs while the glitter can some time remain. This is true. I have regretted many a glitter polish when the time comes to remove it. however this isn’t a glitter polish. There are no particles in it. The formula is just iridescent. You can get the glittery shine without having to fight the glitter polish. Plus it goes on smoothly. There are not bumps because nothing is actually suspended in the polish. It is just a smooth gel coat.

At the moment I am a big fan of this formula as a top coat and as a color. I am going to have to pick up some more from this line in order to test out the formula more, but at the moment, this is leading the pack as far as protective top coats go.

While I did pick up the Sally Hansen Let’s get Digital in Target, I generally pick up my OPI (as well as Nails Inc and Orly, and China Glaze if it comes to that) at the Sally Beauty Site. I find it the best way to get the colors I want as they often have a broader selection of colors than my local store. I don’t know if I always hit the store when they are restocking or if they just don’t stock a wide variety where I live but it always seems like the OPI section is half empty. Maybe my neighbors like the OPI formula as much as I do and they can’t keep it in stock. Who knows? I just know I like choice in my colors. Plus I like ordering several colors at once so I always have a selection to choose from. I recently just got rid of several older polishes and found my selection dimmed. It was a purge a long time coming, but it doesn’t make it any happier. At least I soon get to restock. Plus Sally Beauty has Free US Ground Shipping for Orders over $35. And I can definitely order more than $35 worth of nail polish.

Showing my hands a little Tough Love

Starting in the spring my hands face massive abuse.  Even when wearing gardening gloves, the weed pulling digging and various other garden chores tend to take their toll.  Truth be told, while I start off each spring wearing the gardening gloves, at some point I forget about them and often work bare handed.  A lot of the time it’s because I just happen to be in the garden notice a weed and pull it thinking it’s just one, why get the gloves? Then I notice another one and another and then I’ve spent half an hour pulling weeds.

So I use hand creams and lotions and enter every summer knowing that no matter what polish I put on my fingernails I have at best half a day before chips abound.  I also know that my nails will consistently break. 

As the summer winds down and the garden chores end for the year, I break out the pumice stones, the hand cream and the nail file.  I spend a few weeks without painting my nails with polish and only applying nail growth concoctions designed to make my nails grow long and healthy.  I also reach for the cuticle oil because everyone knows a bad hangnail can easily wreck a good manicure. Then once my nails are in tip top condition I sort through my old nail polishes, indulge in buying a few new ones and indulge my love of nail color.

At least until it is time for spring planting once again.

This year I received an EiR NYC Tough Love Cuticle Cream (retail $12) in on of my Petit Vour boxes. While I usually use a liquid oil, I was game to try a solid one and it arrived at the perfect time.  I knew I needed more cuticle oil but had not yet purchased it.  It’s almost like they peeked into my calendar. Order nail products was listed right after prepare garden for autumn/winter.  So with mulch piled high over spent garden beds and my dehydrator drying out a veritable boat load of paprika peppers destined for my spice cabinet, it is time to try out this new cuticle cream.

According to the product page…

For cuticles or other rough patches that need some tender care and love, this balm is a saving grace. Based in shea butter for a lift of heavy-hydration, it’s full of dutiful ingredients that help with stressed-out skin – like neem oil, which holds antifungal properties, and arnica, a known aid for aches, bruises, and swelling. Rub this into cuticles, elbows, or any other small problem areas that could use some extra care.

Key Ingredients: Vitamin E Oil – Boosting collagen production, a connective tissue that keeps skin elastic, Arnica-Infused Olive Oil – Helps to naturally stimulate your body’s healing processes. It can help reduce pain from cuts and bruises, Neem Oil – Deeply penetrates skin to restore moisture and enhance elasticity.  Helps stimulate collagen production to heal cracks caused by dryness.


Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit*, Beeswax, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Seed Oil, Arnica Montana Flower Extract*, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*

Eir NY+C

So I opened the metal tin and began to use the product.  Surprisingly it smells exactly like the Speak all natural deodorant.  It’s a little strange.  It also has the same feel to it when you touch it which took a little getting used to.  I kept thinking ‘you don’t put deodorant on your nails’ and then having to remind myself it was the cuticle cream. Once I got past that, I was fine. 

This year all the pandemic based hand washing has caused me to use more hand cream in general to defend my skin so even though my fingers were rough and beaten up, I had no torn or painful cuticles. I actually paid more attention to my hands this summer than I usually do.  However my cuticles still needed some focused attention.  There are however no dramatic before and after pictures.  They looked fine before and just felt a little dry, now they still look fine but feel softer and much healthier. 

I actually enjoyed using this product.  Usually when I reach for something for my cuticles it is a liquid oil. I have on occasion spilled it and made quite a mess.  This was easy to keep beside the bed and use just before going to sleep.  If I knocked it off the night stand it didn’t matter because it was a solid so it couldn’t spill.  While it did make my fingers greasy as I rubbed it into my cuticles I just used my product covered finger tips on my elbows which were happy to absorb any product I applied.  Once rubbed into my cuticles, my fingers didn’t leave any stains or oil spots on the bedsheets or pillow cases either which was a big plus.  Over all it wasn’t a bad product to start my nail care and repair sessions for the season.  And while I have been using the product nightly for several weeks there is still plenty in the container to see me through the winter. (It’s hard to tell with the picture but there is a substantial divot in the center of the cream from where I rubbed my fingers.)

For $12 I could see keeping this product around.  Personally I would prefer a nicer scent to it, mostly because when I sleep I often curl my hands up near my face and so I tend to smell my hand products as I drift off. This scent wasn’t the most appealing to follow me into slumber land, but it wasn’t terribly bad either. If perfumes aren’t really your thing then that may not be an issue for you.  If I didn’t sleep with at least one hand by my head it wouldn’t be an issue for me either.  It is a good solid product made with organic ingredients that does exactly what it claims. The container is durable metal and the solid prevents it from spilling. Over all, a really nice addition to my night stand and nail repair routine, plus another fine product from my Petit Vour Beauty Box.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box


Does the Lauren B Beauty Nail Growth Serum really Work?

The Lauren B Nail growth Serum came in my June Petit Vour box and I have to say I was very eager to try it out. My nails have taken a beating this year.  I fought an ongoing battle in the garden with both bunnies and bindweed this year.  While the bunnies could be scared off with a squirt from the hose and threats regarding my grandmother’s mustard based marinade, the bind weed was immune to insults.

And empty culinary threats.

I’m pretty sure the rabbits even know that non-lethal hose is my only weapon.

But at least they still run.

The bindweed just sort of digs in deeper and holds on tight.  Even with gloves on, my nails needed some help.  So again, I was happy to give the Nail Growth Serum from Lauren B a try. But what is it?  Well according to the website…

Applicator brush

Salvation for fragile, brittle nails that refuse to grow. This sheer blend of amino acids, antioxidants, Vitamins E and C, peptides and biotin sinks in instantly to boost natural nail growth and strength. Brush it directly onto your nails before applying polish, or on bare nails once or twice a day.

Directions: Use thin applicator brush to apply directly onto the base of nails where your nail and cuticle meet (the half moon portion) allow formula to sink in for 5 min before rinsing off, applying polish, cremes etc. Best to use on clean bare nails, or over polish that is completely dried. Use once or twice a day. Pro tip: keep this product on your bed side table and apply each night before bed so you do not forget. This will also allow the formula to sink into your matrix of nail and to work. Keep container closed tight when not in use and stored in neutral environment.

I feel the need to point out that I did not read the full directions before I started applying.  I only read the first paragraph (the part before the word directions – yeah I know, I amaze myself sometimes too). 

Thumb at the start (with polish remnants)

The first thing I did was trim off the ratty bits on the ends of my nails. The parts that got dinged up in the ongoing battle with Bindweed. Without the damage, my nails tend to be rather healthy.

Hand at the start

So I applied it onto my nails and waited for it to dry a little, then applied polish. 

I do not recommend doing that.  The formula never really dries down and while the polish goes over the formula covered nail well with seemingly no problem, when you go you wash your hands (which I have been doing a LOT recently, as I’m sure we all have) at a later point in time, the nail polish sort of slides right off. Seriously, in one clean sheet.  It was most disconcerting, yet oddly intriguing at the same time.

just from hand washing

Figuring out that I might have done something wrong, I returned to the site and this time read ALL of the directions.

Yeah, either wash your hands after giving it time to sink in and then polish your nails or just apply it along the cuticles overnight.  I tried it over polish, but the formula just felt greasy and I think the polish kept it from soaking in.  Just go bare nails for this one is my suggestion.

So once I figured out how to use the product how did it perform?

Well my nails did not grow out by a mile in the past few weeks.  They do however feel stronger and less inclined to break and chip.  I ended up trimming several of them down because the tips of the nails were damaged from my gardening activities. 

I think the trimming eradicated the weakest part of the nails and the serum helped ensure that what grew back was healthier and stronger. I would call it more of a nail strengthening serum rather than a nail growth serum as I think adding the word growth creates different expectations.

My thumb at the end

Yes, stronger nails are less likely to break and therefore grow longer, so it isn’t a misnomer, I just think it is really about strength not length. 

I also think that having to pay nightly attention to my nails helped as well.  I found myself filing small dings and trimming away ragged bits nightly instead of when I sat down to do my nails (once a week). 

hand at end of the trial

The nightly attention helped them out a lot as well.  I don’t think this will be a continuous use product for me, but I could see keeping it on hand for the times when my nails do take a beating. 

As I know that occurs two times a year, once when I deal with the garden in the spring and once in the fall when I prepare the garden for winter, it would get use then. Since I trimmed and filed the dings and chips out of my nails before applying it each night, it also kept small divots from being large breaks. It forced me to take care of problems when they were small rather than leave them for the week and possible additional damage the following day.

I think if I knew I was going to an event I wanted my nails to look nice for, I might use it the two weeks prior to the event so that I could ensure I paid attention to the nails.  Do I consider this an essential item to keep around, no. Nor do I consider it some sort of miracle growth formula, but it is kind of fun to add to my at home manicure while it lasts. It was also a nice product to get in a subscription box as I don’t know if I would have ever picked this up on my own. As the subscription box was Petit Vour, I also know that this product is clean, vegan and cruelty free. While I tend to think of those elements in my skin care items, I don’t always think of them when dealing with my nails. Perhaps in the future, I will.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box