These items are my current holy grail (HG) nail care items.
Pure acetone - I'm not sure the brand matters all that much, but I've been using either the Onyx pictured here from Wal-Mart or the one from Sally's. Some people don't have good luck with acetone and find it too drying, but I've found that the greater effectiveness means that it's actually on my skin for less time, and thus is less drying. Lots of people add some glycerine to their acetone to help with the drying.
Swissco glass file from Sally's - for most people, glass files seem to be less damaging to the nails. I've tried a few brands, and this is the one I love the most. Some other people swear by Essie or OPI files. Find yours and stick with it!
Buffing block from Sally's - after I file my nails, I run one of these along the free edge to smooth it out and seal the nail plate. I also occasionally use mine to buff out the ridges on my nails as well, but you should use great care if you choose to do this. My nails are very, very strong and thick, and they can take being buffed sometimes. If your nails are thin, I wouldn't buff them at all. Ever. Seriously!
Orange sticks with grit on the end from Sally's - Yes, that's the technical term for these! I get very persistent hard, dry skin along the sides of my nails. I don't mean my cuticles, I just mean that part along the sides. I drown them in moisture and nothing helps. I read about these little gems on MUA, and they are awesome!
Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover - I love this stuff and typically use it once a week. It keeps my cuticles nicely under control. I also have the Blue Cross Cuticle Remover from Sally's, but I like to use that one more on my feet and don't find that it works as well on my hands.
Dappen Dish from Sally's - This is what I put my acetone in for clean up.
And this is my clean up brush, the $1 ELF concealer brush from Target. It is awesome, best cleanup brush I've ever used, and the price is right!
Part 1 of my moisture routine - Gold Bond Ultimate Healing with Aloe. There are several varieties of Gold Bond, so you might need to try some out to see which one is right for you. I love it because it absorbs really well and doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy or sticky. I use it every single time I wash my hands, which I've never been able to do with any other lotion without feeling like a greaseball. Love!
Part 2 of my moisture routine - Badger Cuticle Care. I use this at least twice a day, morning and night, more often if my cuticles are feeling particularly dry. It's great and affordable ($5 or so for the tin), with the bonus of the adorable badger. Win!
Base coats - my two current faves are both Pro-FX. One is the ridge filler, and one is the epoxy base coat. I like that the ridge filler is slightly tinted because I can use it as underwear under sheer polish. I haven't wear tested the ridge filler, but I can get five days wear easily with the epoxy base coat.
And last but not least, my top coats. I've used the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri for the longest time. A lot of people swear by Seche Vite, but it just doesn't work well with my body chemistry. With the Insta-Dri, I don't get any shrinkage or weird chipping. It's great and readily available, at least in the US.
And the latest addition to my repertoire, Pro-FX top coat. I loooove this! It dries really shiny, makes my manis last a really long time, and it's CHEAP, $3.47 for a whole 1 oz. bottle. Love it!