Photo by Chelson Tamares on Unsplash
I’ve always loved the look of an acrylic nail. In high school I spent weeks saving up to get acrylics for prom. It was a French tip design with tiny rhinestone details. I felt like a princess. I loved the instant gratification of walking in with sad, nail bitten fingers to graceful long fingernails. My hand gestures suddenly felt more exaggerated and purposeful; I loved how my hands looked typing on my phone or clacking on the cash register at work (these nails were perfect for a part time cashier in a mall).
A similar example of my prom nails via Pinterest
A week or so after prom I noticed they had started to grow out. I briefly considered booking an appointment to get them filled, but soon realized this would turn into an ongoing expense that I was not prepared to take on. So, I let them grow out. And eventually, they became so grown out and damaged that the acrylic nails started to pop off on their own. And what I was left with were short, thin, and brittle nails, a far cry from the long, elegant nails I had sported weeks earlier.
It took months for my nails to recover. I basically had to wait until my nails had fully grown out for them to return to normal. I vowed never to waste my money on a set of acrylics again. So it was with great surprise that I found myself, years later, trotting into the salon for a set of nail extensions. It was really a decision made on a whim, after scrolling through Pinterest and saving dozens of pics of trendy nail designs. How bad could it be? Was I misremembering the extent of damage that acrylics had waged on my nails years ago? And anyway, these were gel x-tensions, not acrylics; surely the technology had advanced so that any potential damage would be minimized.
What I wanted...
...versus what I got
Boy was I wrong. After two weeks of struggling to drive, cook, and generally function as an adult with nail extensions, I raced to the salon to have them removed. And what I was left with was somehow worse than what I had experienced after prom so many years ago; my nails were incredibly weak, practically thin as paper, and painfully dry. Even the slightest bit of length had to be clipped off, because the threat of splitting or tearing was too great.
I was desperate for a fix. And to my surprise, the product that ended up saving my nails was right under my nose at work.
Image via Sknmuse
Enter Sknmuse. A favorite amongst the staff at Lovestitch, Sknmuse launched in Los Angeles in 2019. Drawing inspiration from traditional West African beauty practices, Sknmuse creates luxurious products with a foundation in sustainability and inclusivity. Their insanely popular product line is a must-have for any self-care junkie.
Image via Sknmuse
I had walked past their display at our store in DTLA many times, and although I had clocked their cuticle oil, I never really considered adopting it as part of my nail routine. In fact, I had never paid much attention to my cuticles at all. Which apparently was a great oversight on my part, because as I learned, maintaining healthy cuticles is essential to your overall nail health.
According to Healthline, “Applying cuticle oil can increase the circulation around your nails, stimulating nail growth. It can also help to protect your nail and cuticle against trauma.” Furthermore, for those of us struggling with extreme dryness, “cuticle oil can help moisturize your cuticle and nail, restoring it to health”.
The Sknmuse cuticle oil is all natural, consisting of only 3 ingredients: Argon oil, shea, and citrus. Rated by Elle magazine as one of their top 10 cuticle oils, it restores and hydrates cuticles, stimulates nail growth, and enhances nail shine. And don't get us started on the shelf appeal; like all of Sknmuse's products, its luxurious design will look perfect on a nightstand or in your next bathroom shelfie.
Image via Sknmuse
I started by consistently applying the oil to my cuticles every morning and night, and throughout the day if I felt like I needed a little extra moisture. One thing I found helpful was to start by massaging the oil into my cuticle and then work my way up the nail, making sure to thoroughly coat the entire surface. The roller ball applicator made it super easy to apply no matter where I was. And I fully took advantage of that feature; I applied it at the grocery store, in bed watching tv, and even at a photoshoot. That little bottle never left my side.
I noticed the results immediately. Whereas my cuticles would often appear dry and tough, they now appeared soft and smooth. I experienced fewer hangnails and tears in the skin surrounding the nail. My nails were much more hydrated and less brittle, and I saw faster growth. After a couple weeks my nails were significantly improved from their post-extension damage.
And while I've sworn off nail extensions (for now), my natural nails will always be stronger, healthier, and more moisturized thanks to this little miracle product.
Shop Sknmuse's cuticle oil here.