As many of you faithful Bubblegum readers know, I have a slight obsession with fingernails.

Getting gel nails stress me out.  I want MY nails to be pretty.  NO OVERLAYS.  About a year and a half ago, I was having really bad problems with splitting and peeling.  It actually go to the point my nails were so thin they were painful.  Thus, I began my quest on improving the overall health of my nails.

Here are my steps (and the necessary products) essential to growing natural nails (according to my exhaustive scientific research over the last year and a half):

1.  Make taking care of your nails a priority.  I know this sounds dumb, but you really do have to set aside time to follow all the steps.

2.  Start taking a vitamin with Biotin in it.  I recommend Sundown's Hair Skin and Nails vitamin.  Recommended by both my dermatologist and my hairdresser.  Go figure.

3.  Keep your nails painted at all times.  Not just with a clear coat.  With COLOR.  I don't know if it's because you can see a color when it chips and know you need to touch it up or if color is stronger, but just painting your nails clear will not really help them grow.  Even when I was having nail problems, I always had at least a clear coat on.  You have to use a color.

4.  Paint your nails at least twice a week.  When I say paint, I mean basically give yourself a manicure.  Remove all old polish.  Completely repaint from the bottom up using my 4 element polish recipe (see below).

I have also tried out MANY nail polishes and products that promise growth, nail health etc.  After all my research, the formula below seems to work for me:

Katie's Natural Nail Manicure Recipe:

1.  Start with Nailtiques Formula 2 on your bare nail.  I swear by Nailtiques.  Nothing else works on the natural nail like it.  My mother and I have used it for years and I have to say alot of my nail troubles started when I strayed from Nailtiques.  In my opinion, it truly is the best.

2.  Follow up with Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat.  I started using this because I thought it was the closest thing to the gel nail polish that I had gotten at the salon.  Use one coat of this on top of the Nailtiques and I truly think it prevents chipping and makes your manicure last longer.

3.  Two coats of color polish.  Any kind you like.

4.  Finish off with Seche Vite top coat.  This is the best top coat I've ever used.  It's widely held to be the best for a reason.  If you accidentally brush up against something, SV will prevent that from ruining your manicure.

5.  Let it dry completely.

This manicure will last between 4 and 7 days without a chip.  It just depends on what you do with your hands during that time.  However, once my nails start to show any wear at all, I remanicure them.