See, I've had a tremor since I was in my teens. I could never be a neurosurgeon, else my patients would end up blinded, paralyzed, or missing chunks of their anatomy! As it is, I've managed to cut off part of my finger using a craft knife. (Don't worry, it was a tiny part and I barely miss it. But if you ever look closely at my left hand index finger, you'll notice it's got a slanted edge on one side. That's because I lost that part in a nasty art school incident. But I digress...)
So how do I end up with nails that look neat and skillfully-painted? Easy. I cheat. I use a technique that I first read about on Lacquerized: I use a paint brush and pure acetone to remove the polish from everywhere that should be polish-free! For the actual how-to, I really suggest you go read her description of the process. I simply cannot explain the process any better than she does, or even add anything new or fun to it. But finish reading my entry before you go, if you don't mind. :D
The question is, what sort of brush do I use? I still haven't completely decided what sort of brush to use. Mostly, I flip-flop between two main brushes. Thankfully, since I'm a painter I have an absolute ton of paintbrushes on hand. Let's look at what I've been using...
I started out using this tiny little brush. It came from a multi-pack of brushes from WalMart's craft department. (I think it was $3 or $4 for a pack of five brushes, maybe?) Although this was a very inexpensive brush, it works really well. It would also be a good brush to use for cream or gel eyeliners. What I love about this brush is that it's got such a sharp, chiseled edge. This means I can get right into the crevices on the sides of my nails where polish tends to pool, or I can turn the brush sideways to sweep off larger blobs of polish from other parts of my finger.
The synthetic bristles hold their shape well and so far haven't seemed to be degrading from the acetone. The biggest drawback of this brush is that it simply doesn't hold much acetone, so I end up dipping back into the liquid over and over and over and over again. It gets tedious. So for preliminary cleanup (or when I'm feeling particularly lazy) I switch over to my larger cleanup brush.
You can see that this brush is much larger than the first one. I can sweep off much more polish with this one before needing to redip it. Unfortunately, since it holds more acetone it also tends to flood my nail with it if I'm not careful. (It's always something, isn't it? Sheesh, my diamond shoes are too tight and all this money in my purse makes my bag too heavy!) To avoid the acetone flooding into my nail creases, I simply tap the tip of the brush onto my towel before I touch it to my finger. Problem solved!
One thing to be careful with: acetone is a really potent solvent. It removes nail polish, right? Well, it will also remove the paint from your paintbrushes, so be very careful not to dip your brush too far into your acetone. If you aren't careful, you'll end up with paintbrush paint all over your fingers. It's not a pretty look, trust me!
I have one more brush that I use for nail art, and it's one I customized myself. I may have mentioned this before, but I am VERY frugal. (Frugal sounds so much nicer than cheap or poor.) I wanted to have a fine brush that was long enough to make straight lines easier to paint and fine enough to make those lines thin. I had several liner brushes, but they were all entirely too large. So, one day I pulled out my scissors and gave my brush a haircut.
Now the brush does exactly what I wanted it to do, even if it is ugly as can be. One day I may end up with actual nail art brushes, but until then these do the job nicely. I'm even getting faster with cleaning up my polish... when I first started this technique, I'd spend a good hour going over the various parts of my nails and still not have a very good result. Now I get a pretty nice result after around half an hour (unless I'm wearing red- red is EVIL to clean up!), and I know people who manage to do their cleanup in around 10 minutes!
So, do you think you'll try this method? I honestly cannot say enough good things about it. How do you currently clean up your edges?