5 Gnarly Nail Products for Lacquer Lovers

Published in: Nails

5 nail products lacquer lovers

It’s always good to have some “good to have around” products, like these five nail products for lacquer lovers. I love them all!


1. Nail Tek Crystal File ($16.50)

nail tek crystal file

I’m not kidding; I’ve had this same Crystal File by Nail Tek ($16.50) since, oh…it to be at least 2002.


I bought it eons ago at a Pure Beauty store at the Embarcadero Center in SF… I still remember the day because I walked in and asked a sales associate to recommend the “best damned nail file” they had, and she recommended this one. And even though it practically killed me at the time to pay however much I paid for it (can’t remember how much it was), I got it anyway because she said it would last forever.

And you know what? She may have been right, because 13 years later, it’s still doin’ fine.

Come Z-Day/zombie apocalypse time, this is the nail file I’m bringing with me on the road, and not just to file my nails — although seriously, what else am I going to do with my downtime?? We won’t have the Internet — but also because it would make a fabulous zombie-fighting emergency shiv.

Some crystal nail files wear down, but the Nail Tek stays gritty. It really smooths the edges of my nails and doesn’t leave them jagged. LOVE. IT.

It’s available now online and at Ulta stores and salons for about $16.50.

2. CND Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner ($11.50)

cnd solar oil

I’m so dedicated to CND Solar Oil ($11.50) that I keep one bottle on my work desk and another bottle on my nightstand by my bed.

‘Tis my jam.

A conditioner for nails and cuticles, it contains sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and rice oil. I swipe it on my cuticles, and then massage it in, a few times throughout the day and then again at night.

It keeps my nails nice and soft and generally less raggedy.

It’s available now online and at salons, drugstores and Ulta for about $11.50.

3. Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Nail Polish Remover ($16)

essie naturally clean

I’ve been using Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Nail Polish Remover ($16) for years, and there’s always a bottle somewhere in my bathroom.

For me, I think it’s the best nail polish remover around because it removes everything, from the palest pastels to the deepest, richest reds, blues, plums and even black shades, and it does so quickly. I can remove all of the polish from all of my fingers with a single saturated cotton pad.

It’s also tough enough to handle glitter polishes, but it does take a bit more work — no surprise there. You know how it is with glitters… They can be a big pain in the butt! Naturally Clean still gets the job done, but sometimes it’ll take two or three soaked cotton pad.

QUICK TIP FOR YOUR TIPS: You’ve probably already heard this before, but it’s usually easier to remove your nail polish right after you get out of a bath or shower.

This stuff also has a scent, and I really like it, which I know is weird…since nail polish removers are usually super stinky, but this one smells like baby powder. 🙂

It’s available now online and at salons and Ulta for about $16.

4. OPI Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops ($13.50)

opi drip dry lacquer drying drops

About a billion years ago, a manicurist recommended these to me while I was getting my nails done. They’re the OPI Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops ($13.50), and I’ve been using them ever since.

When you apply one or two drops of the liquid on top of your topcoat while it’s wet, it speeds up the drying time. When I use it, my nails are usually completely dry in about five minutes.

Um…I’d still try not to bump into anything for a little longer than five minutes after you use them, though, because you can still end up with small nicks on your nails… I try to be careful like a nails ninja for a good half an hour after I use them.

They’re available now online and at salons and Ulta for about $13.50.

5. OPI Top Coat ($9.49)



Ah, the Old Faithful of top coats… OPI Top Coat never lets me down. 🙂

I love that wide brush, the shiny finish and the sturdy formula. This one’s an oldie but a goodie, and a great thing to have in your nail supply stash.

It’s available now online and at salons, Ulta and Sally Beauty…and pretty much everywhere else for about $9.50.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 20 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Ashley H. says:

    Great post 🙂 I’ll have to try the Essie remover and the CND conditioner. My nails get crazy when the colder weather stars to kick in so I should condition my nails more frequently.

    I also really like OPI’s top coat and Drip Dry too. They work well together and last. I use Seche Vite too but it gets gooey and unusable too fast for my liking. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ashley,

      I feel the same way about Seche Vite. I love the shine but I’ve had to ditch so many bottles because the formula gets so thick so fast.

      I hope you like the Essie remover and the CND Solar Oil; I usually get both of those things from Ulta, so if you live near one it’s a good place to stock up!

      Hope you’re having a nice Thursday so far. I just finished eating a snack and I’m going to go for a long walk in just a few.

    • Lena says:

      i swear by seche vite, and still do after all these years and trying all the dry fast formulas. the key is to keep a nail polish thinner handy, and add a little if seche vite starts to get gooey. seche restore is their companion, which i use but any nail polish thinner should work.
      Lena recently posted … Review & Swatches: Edward Bess Sheer Satin Cream Compact Foundation

  2. Chelsea says:

    I never do my nails, as you know. I do try and slather them in plain olive oil every night, because my cuticles and hands get hella dry, red, and angry very easily. My nails are really strong and grow quickly, too quickly!

    I only really own one nail polish right now, and it’s a sparkly red one by Zoya called Aphrodite. I bought the matching top and base coat too.

    • Karen says:

      Zoya makes some good stuff! Are you cuticles OK when you wear the polish?

      • Chelsea says:

        I just keep oiling them over the polish – I’m not sure if it affects the wear time, but I’m tough on my hands anyway (which is code for clumsy – I don’t wear my engagement ring all the time because it has a lot of tiny diamonds, and they get loose easily)

        I’m starting to prep for winter dry skin – I keep hearing that we’re supposed to have a mild winter due to El Nino, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

        • Karen says:

          I do the same thing with my CND cuticle oil. I don’t think it affects the wear, at least I haven’t noticed any big difference.

          How interesting that you guys are supposed to have a mild winter? We’re supposed to have a really bad one! It’s predicted to be very wet here in the Bay Area.

          • Chelsea says:

            The winter before last was insanely bad – all time highest snow in Detroit and Ann Arbor, record number of negative degree days… just insanity. Last winter wasn’t great either. But, we just moved to a condo, so no more shoveling snow at any rate!

          • Karen says:

            I can’t even. When it gets into the 40s here I’m no functional. OMG!

  3. The drip dry looks like a really cool product! Thanks for the recommendations!
    A Little Dose of Makeup recently posted … A Little Dose of Blogging | Free Fonts

  4. broantza says:

    I heard about the CND oil and as soon as I finish my OPI and China Glaze cuticle oils, I’ll probably give it a shot.
    Have you tried the new Essie gel setter top coat? http://www.essie.com/nail-care/top-coats/gelsetter.aspx. I swear it’s as good as Dior’s get top coat, but costs only a third of the price. I already bought a back up bottle, just in case (yes, I know, I am a pack rat sometimes…)

  5. Sheila says:

    Sometimes I wonder if we have ever crossed paths. I went to Davis around same time as you and used to shop at the same Pure Beauty around that time. It’s where I got glass bottles of Phyto Shampoo and Conditioner that shattered in the shower!

  6. I have some dry drops from Essence, which work great, but I noticed my nails starting to break much easier after three months of using them, so I figured they were a little bit drying and stopped. Have you experienced similar things with those?
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Colors of autumn – My top three nail polish and lipstick picks

  7. Unfortunately that OPI top coat doesn’t do it for me 🙁 Still looking for the HG top coat that will keep my nail polish from chipping after just one day.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … EOTD | MAX Factor Azure Allure Smokey Eye Drama Kit

  8. Nicole says:

    Hi Karen, I have been a reader off and on for a couple of years. But, lately have found myself checking in daily. Loving your all your posts. This one is very helpful as I Usually do my own mani/pedis. But,I have slacked over the summer on my nails. Need to get on it again! I ordered the oil and the nail drops off Amazon (cheaper than Ulta). The file and remove, and topcoat sound nice. I have a couple other top coats though(Seche Vite and Nails Inc. gel effect). Any basecoat suggestions?

  9. Kim says:

    I was just slathering on some Solar Oil earlier in the week and, though it’s way too old and starting to smell a little funky, it still works great. 🙂 Glass nail files are especially good for brittle nails that tend to split or peel. They’re not my fave because of the “nails on a chalkboard” squeak they can sometimes make but lots of people love them! It’s awesome that yours has held up for so long!

  10. Trude says:

    Great tips! I’ll have to check out that remover. I prefer Essie’s quick dry topcoat, because it’s great over any formula, levels nicely and dries glossy. I remember Sally Hansen’s quick-dry drops performing well, but I prefer having a twofer with the topcoat. 🙂

  11. Erin says:

    Wow, 13 years! That’s insane!
    Erin recently posted … Target’s Nate Berkus Fall Collection

  12. I love Drip Dry! Without it I take so long to do my nails! My holy grail top coat is the Essence Gel-Look Plumping Top Coat.. it’s amazing! Super shiny, adds volume, and makes your polish last forever xx
    My Beauty Dreams recently posted … Empties #2 | Empty Products & Mini Reviews

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