Your supplies are going to be things you should already own if you do your nails on a regular basis. You need nail polish remover, nail clippers, a cuticle stick, a file, a buffer, some oil for your cuticles, and some good hand cream. Now I'm using a file with a smaller grit side as my buffer because mine has apparently disappeared. If I had to guess I'd say it's in the same place as my missing comb, thank you small child (my son is 3 and sometimes "helps" me put things away).
First you want to remove your nail polish. I like a gentle formula that is also antibacterial, but you can use whatever style you prefer. I recommend soaking a cotton swab or ball and letting it sit on your nail for a bit (especially if you are wearing glitter polish) to soften the polish up, you'll have to do less scrubbing which is better for your nails in the long run.
Now take stock of your nails. Mine are awful right now. They are stained from certain colors, a bit cracked, and there are some ridges forming as well. Because of this I'll be giving them the full treatment and I'll be continuing some of the steps everyday for the next week to help them heal and get back to where I want them to be.
Grab your clippers and give your nails a trim if they need it and cut off any hang nails you see. I trimmed mine down quite a bit due to some split ends and some staining on the ends of two of them. I went back after I took this picture and trimmed them some more so they are very short right now.
Now you are going to file the ends of them to get rid of any unevenness and rough edges. Make sure you only file in one direction, never back and forth. This can actually make the nails weaker and more prone to breakage. A gently curving edge is less likely to break than a flat edge or the pointy nails that have been popular lately, so keep that in mind as you shape them.
If you want you can soak your hands in a bowl of warm water for a bit before this step, but I skipped it. You want to push back (GENTLY!) your cuticles with either a cuticle stick or an orange stick. Just be careful not to tear your cuticles or skin open, an infection under your nail bed is painful and takes a very long time to heal so be extra careful. Don't let the nail technician at a salon tell you its fine when they make you bleed while doing your nails. That is never OK and can lead to some nasty health issues.
Next comes the buffing. If you have a buffing block, use the finest grit you have if you just need to buff them. If you have some ridges like I did you can go a little coarser to help buff them out. I used the finer side of my file and went in gentle circles till I had smoothed them out to my liking. Buffing will help to stimulate blood circulation to your nails, promoting healthy nail growth. I will do this step again in about 4 days.
As you can tell, I gave them a pretty thorough buffing and filing. I wanted them to be pretty smooth and to get rid of the cracked areas.
Now you want to apply some sort of cuticle oil to your nails. I'm using the Caudalie sample that came in my September Birchbox, I've been really happy with it as a cuticle oil so far, but you can use any sort of cuticle oil here.
You want to massage the oil into your cuticles and also your nails depending on the oil you use. The Caudalie has stuff in it that will benefit my nails so I made sure to rub it into my nails as well. I will be doing this step everyday for the next week.
And lastly you will apply a really good hand cream or lotion to your whole hands. I'm currently using the original Nivea Creme, which I like for my hands. It's nice and thick and seems to be doing a great job moisturizing them, I'll do this step everyday forever, I can be pretty rough on my hands so I'm trying to take better care of them. Give your nails (and hands) some TLC and you might be surprised at how nice they look even without polish.