Written by Hanna Ibraheem

Welcome to Stylist’s Pretty Damn Good, a weekly series in which different women share the one product – across hair care, skincare, make-up, body and fragrance – that remains a forever staple in their beauty routines.

When it comes to beauty treatments we miss during lockdown, manicures are right up there. Being able to get your nails done wasn’t only a treat but a chance to express yourself. Or, as one Stylist colleague once said: “It’s how I complete my look”.

During the last year, beauty businesses have been hit hard by constant closures and many entrepreneurs are coming up with ways to help their customers from afar. One of these people is Metta Francis (also known as @nailsbymets).

Francis is an award-winning nail technician and artist who has painted numerous nails for global fashion week shows and editorial shoots (including this gorgeous milk-inspired nail trends piece for Stylist).

As Francis has had to stop mobile nail appointments due to lockdown, she’s helping customers with a range of services. There’s bespoke press-on nails, at-home gel removal kits and even workshops and masterclasses for fellow nail professionals. Plus, her Instagram account is packed with plenty of amazing nail inspiration. Just one quick scroll and you’ll be saving numerous pictures for your first post-lockdown manicures.

So, what does a qualified nail expert reach for to keep their own nails and cuticles in good condition? Here, Francis shares the one product she finds pretty damn good…

“The beauty product I can’t live without is CND’s SolarOil, £9.95. I discovered this cuticle oil back in 2010 and have been using it for over 10 years now. It has been around for ages but it’s such a great, cult product that I always come back to it. 

“At the beginning of my career, so many nail professionals that I assisted during fashion week and on shoots had it as a staple product in their kit. It was also used heavily by my educator during my nail training, so I was exposed to it really early on. Before then, I was just using standard high street store products.

“It’s still one of the best cuticle oils around and one that I use the most on a day-to-day basis.


“The first thing that drew me to it was the smell. One of the main ingredients is almond oil and it smells yummy – think amaretto and marzipan! It’s a sweet scent but not too overwhelming or sickly. It’s not too oily and absorbs really nicely into the skin and nails, too.

“On the technical side of things, the ingredients are the perfect blend of oils (vitamin E, jojoba and almond) which really target the nails, keeping them nice and healthy. It doesn’t just sit on the surface of the nails like some oil-based nail products.

“Honestly, it helps my manicures last much longer and keeps them looking super glossy and neat. It reduces the amount of cuticle/dead skin build up, which means my cuticle area doesn’t look untidy and I rarely get bits of hard skin or hang nails around my nails. There’s also no risk of me biting or picking around my nails. On the odd occasion, I don’t have anything on my nails at all but it keeps them looking hydrated and naturally healthy.

“Applying cuticle oil has become such a habit to me now, I’ll do it when I’m in the car, when I’m watching TV, when I’m working at the laptop. I’ve always got cuticle oil to hand. But I do try to give myself a nice manicure or at the very least a luxury hand scrub and massage once a week and that’s when I really take my time to apply it. Nothing feels better than a hand massage.

“I’ve alway looked after my hands and nails from a very young age and it’s something I try to encourage with my clients. We do so much with our hands every single day and probably don’t give our hands the TLC they deserve. I’ve noticed recently that if I neglect my hands or nails, they start to look really worn – not the best advertisement for a nail tech/nail artist!

“I apply a small amount to the cuticle area and then massage all over the nail, surrounding area and up the fingers. I recommend applying it twice daily, especially if you have dry, brittle nails. Spend some time massaging it into your nails and fingers to stimulate the blood flow and to make the process feel like a special pampering moment. With the bottled version, you can decant some into your hands and add some brown sugar to create a lovely DIY hand scrub; it’s such a nice treat and will help exfoliate any dead skin on/around your nails.

“If your nails are naked, you can apply the cuticle oil to your nails and then use a glossing buffer (the shiner side of a nail buffer) to gently buff the oil into your nails. They will look super glossy, as if you’ve got a clear varnish or gel on – just don’t over do it with the buffer. Don’t forget to apply cuticle oil to your toe nails/toes either. They often get neglected, especially during the winter months but now’s the time they need that extra hydration and love.”

  • CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care

    Shop CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Care at Nail Polish Direct, £9.95

    buy now

Main image: Metta/courtesy of brand

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