Every woman likes to look and feel her best. Beautifully manicured fingernails and pedicured toenails are essential for a really polished look. If you’re looking at your hands and feet now and feeling a little self conscious that they are not looking their best, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure. If you are unable to do it yourself, visit one of the many professionals out there who offer this service. It’s only a little thing but I know I feel a lot more confident when I have nice nails, even if my hair is a mess and I have no make up on. So once you’ve prettied up your nails, how can you maintain the way they look for as long as possible? There are some simple things you can do which will help to care for your hands and feet. I’m sure many of you already know most of them but it can’t help to have a quick refresh and go back to basics…
Avoid damage – Bitten nails are never a good look. If you are a nail biter, invest in one of the many products available to help you break the habit. Avoid using your nails as ‘tools’ where possible, use the pads of your fingers instead. When filing your nails, file in one direction only and avoid using metal files. Filing back and forth generates heat which can make your nails brittle and weakened. If you buff your nails to reduce ridges, only do so for a few seconds and never more than once a week. When cutting your toenails, always cut straight across, never at an angle as this can cause an ingrown nail – I can tell you from experience, they are painful!
Diet – When you are ill, depleted of nutrients or run down, your hair and nails are often one of the first places where your body will show signs of damage. Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy, balanced diet with a good variety of vitamins and minerals.
Drying time – Pretty obvious but make sure you allow enough time for your nail colour to harden and set. If I need to speed up the time it takes for my nails to dry, I find dunking my hands in really cold water helps. It wont dry your nails completely but it will help to set them a little bit quicker.
Hard skin – Have you ever stood on an escalator and at eye level in front of you, there is someone wearing flip-flops with rough looking, flakey heels? Don’t let that flakey footed person be you! Keep hard skin on your feet at bay by regularly using a pumice stone or foot file after a bath or shower. I use a ‘Ped Egg’ foot file and I find that works pretty well. Whatever you do, do not use a razor to shave dead skin off your feet – I actually knew someone who once did this! It ended badly.
Moisturise – It amazes me how many women take care of their face by moisturising and exfoliating regularly and yet completely ignore their hands. Even if you take great care of your face and neck, if you have wrinkled ‘old lady’ hands, it will be a real giveaway as to your true age as you get older. Look after your hands by using hand cream on a daily basis, especially after you have washed them as soap can have a drying affect on skin. Don’t forget to pay attention to nails and cuticles. There are special creams designed to moisturise cuticles but I find olive oil is a good alternative.
Nail length – Long nails look nice but keep your nails to a practical length according to your work and lifestyle. In my previous job, I frequently used my hands for some pretty rough work. Whenever I tried to grow my nails, I ended up snapping them. Painful and not very nice to look at! I try and grow my nails longer sometimes but I think the habit of having short nails is pretty well ingrained in me now.
Never pick at your polish – Whether you have had a DIY home manicure or a professional gel application, do not pick at your nail colour as it will damage the surface of the nail underneath. This is especially true for gel manicures. If you pick at or peel one of these, it can come off in one big, nail sized sheet. It might be fun but it’ll damage your nail and expose the horror that lies beneath (a scaly, rough looking nail!)
Painting your own nails – Use a base coat underneath your nail colour to prevent staining your nail when you come to remove the colour. If you do have old polish stains on your nails, you can use cotton wool dipped in lemon juice to remove them. When you have finished applying your polish, apply a good quality, clear top coat to help prevent chipping and for extra shine. When it is time to remove your polish, use an acetone free remover, it is less harsh on your nails.
Protect your hands – Washing up water, cleaning products and other nasties will all take their toll on your hands and nails. They may not be the most attractive garment but get those rubber gloves on!
This article has some really basic tips and advice. Some of you will know a lot of it already but hopefully there are some of you out there that have learnt a thing or two 🙂