Tips on Nail Care for Beaders!

Hello, everyone! So, I was scrambling for a topic for a new blog post this month (since part of my resolution for this [and every] year is to post twice a month and September is over today – OOPS) and was totally stumped. Then I remembered a few conversations I had had recently with some other beaders about nails.

See, my best friend took me and my husband to see Wicked (my third time, his first) and I had painted my nails to match the play. My left hand was Ephaba-themed in greens and black and my right hand was in Galinda shades of pink, white, and sparkly gold.

I’ve been getting into doing very simple levels of nail art lately and was really proud with how they turned out. As I was showing them off at bead night, though, I realized that most beaders don’t have long nails.

Which makes sense, since beading can be reeeeeally hard on your fingertips.

So! I have compiled a few tips on how to protect your long/painted/fragile nails while pursuing your beloved beading craft.

1. Wrap the Tip!

Okey-doke, first things first. When you paint your nails, paint the top of the nail bed like normal, but then run the polish brush against the free edge of your nail. This photo is from The Polished Perfectionist and she has a fantastic blog about nail care. Click the photo to go to her step-by-step guide on wrapping your nail tips.

What this does is basically protects the edge of your polish from getting chipped away every time you accidentally stand yourself with a needle or scrape your nail against a bead or tool. It’s been a lifesaver for me!

2. Trade your Hardeners for Nail Oil

So, I’ve been guilty of this one, but if you don’t have naturally stiff nails you shouldn’t give into the temptation of nail hardeners, or base coats that have hardening properties. They DO make your nails harder, but that can make them more brittle. What you want to do instead is use nail oil to keep your nails flexible – that way they bend when you jam them on your heavy box or beads, instead of breaking or chipping.

You can get nail oil is nice little brush pens. I keep one around and massage it into my nails when I’m watching TV at night or right after I remove my polish.

3. File Carefully, but Don’t Buff!

So buffing is bad news. It removes layers of your nail, which weakens them. So skip that step entirely. When you file, make sure you’re using a glass file instead of one of those cheap emery boards. The emery boards are a little too rough and using the glass file will leave your edges less jagged and less likely to snag and chip.

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SimplyNailogical does a great video on YouTube here about filing your nails. If you’re weird about swearing, you won’t love her, but she’s got some great info (and I think she’s hilarious).

4. Use Tools!

Ok, we beaders are super bad about this (and I am no exception), but don’t use your nails as tools! We have tools for all sorts of beading conundrums, so don’t use your nails to open jump rings or flatten Fireline or wrestle open split rings – we have pliers for that!

Also – quick tip – EZ Scoops are an absolute godsend for opening big key rings. Just slide the tip between the two rings and push it through until it opens them up. Your nails will thank you!

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I use this thing constantly.

5. Wear Polish as Much as You Can

Your nails don’t need to breathe – they’re literally dead skin. Wearing nail polish all the time actually helps keep your nails safe by acting like a splint or armor and keeping your nails strong and straight. Wearing nail polish also helps lock in your natural nail oil and protects them from being completely soaked with water, which can make them fragile.

The only way that nail polish can really damage nails is if you peel it off and accidentally peel up layers of your nail. So remove polish carefully with acetone (or use a peel-off base coat) and then use nail oil to replenish your nails because acetone is VERY drying.

SimplyNailogical made another great and VERY comprehensive video on nail care that you should give a watch. It’s about 20 minutes long, but it’s pretty much where I learned all this stuff.

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But, so far using these tips has allowed me to enjoy my long nails and keeping them painted. I still get the occasional needle-induced chip, but overall I’ve been able to balance my love of beading and my enjoyment of painted nails.

So you guys have any tips to add? Any reasons that you do or don’t paint your nails?

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4 Responses to Tips on Nail Care for Beaders!

  1. Nancy Heath says:

    Thank you so much. My nails are Terrible! My doctor cut my thyroid medicine down too low and that and hair is the first thing that gets messed up. Great ideas below and I ordered the oil, and glass files, (never knew about these).

    Have a great week. Nancy Heath

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    • samwescott says:

      Sure thing, Nancy! Let me know how they work out for you. I’d really recommend watching those videos too. I’m no expert, but I learned pretty much everything I know from her. 😀

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  2. Shirley Moore says:

    Great info, and I’m heading off to go watch the links. Quite honestly, I don’t polish my nails because I can’t stand chipped nail polish, and I don’t make time for a manicure. My nails do grow pretty long, and since I’ve been using collagen in my coffee (Thanks Trim Healthy Mama) they have grown noticeably stronger.

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    • samwescott says:

      Huh. I hadn’t heard of the collagen thing, but that’s really interesting! Wrapping the tips with nail polish has really helped me avoid chipping, but I do end up repainting my nails fairly often because I always want them to be perfect, haha.

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