Pampering your hands and nails

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Hey all, this is a post about what to do when winter and wearing polish has weakened your nails, but also a helpful reminder of ways to avoid angry broken nails like my pinky in the photo above – who broke so far down (while I was out, no less) it was tender for days. In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss how to mend a small tear or break in your nail, if you’re lucky enough to be at home when you discover it. For this post, I’ll take about prevention and care of your nails and hands.

It’s important to aim to give your nails at least one night off a month from polish. Especially in winter our skin and nails get really dry and mine tend to flake or break really far down. And while the calendar tells me it’s spring, the snow outside my window says otherwise.  I’ve not been so good at remembering to give my nails a break, but last night I made sure to pamper my nails and myself. Healthy hands and nails are the foundation for a beautiful manicure, after all.

What you’ll need:

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I use an old toothbrush, but there are several nail brushes you can buy quite cheaply at beauty stores that you can use instead. Potato , potahto in this case, it’s really whatever floats your boat. (I’m suggesting a toothbrush to illustrate that you don’t always have to go out and invest in a lot of products right when you’re just starting out with an interest in nails. You can often use stuff you already have lying around. Like in this post, I used a bobby pin instead of a dotting tool – & now that I know that I a) can do dots, and b) like the effect of dotting on my nails, I can make a better informed decision to invest in dotting tools.)

Then I have a nail buffer and a nail file, nail scissors, some cuticle cream from Sally Hansen, an orange stick, some cuticle oil (which you could replace with plain almond oil – or your favorite hydrating oil – from your local health store) and some hand cream of your choice. I’ve got Origins ‘Make a difference’ hand cream for normal use because it sinks in quickly and I’m not left with greasy hands for ages.

I start by buffing my nails with all 4 sides of my buffing file. I foolishly had worn the green polish from St. Patty’s day without a base coat and my nails were slightly stained. I made sure not to overdo the buffing, because buffing your nails involves filing through the ‘yellow’ or ‘unhealthy’ layers of nail to reveal newer and brighter nails underneath (kind of like an aggressive exfoliation for your nails), and you can actually risk buffing too much and leaving your nails very thin! After I’ve buffed my nails I use my file and (filing in one direction) shape my nails. (Here’s a great post about nail shapes, and how to find your favorite.) After the party pooper nail above broke, it meant that I had to change my nail shape from square to a sort of disappointing wannabe ‘squoval’ because I had to lose a lot of length in order for my pinky to no longer look stumpy compared to my other nails. *le sigh*

After I finished filing my nails I applied Sally Hansen’s gel cuticle remover cream. The instructions are as follows:

  1. Apply around cuticle; wait 1-2 minutes, no longer than 8-10 minutes.
  2. Use pusher tip to loosen and push cuticles away from nails.
  3. Wash away excess with warm, soapy water.  (I use my old toothbrush here to give them a quick scrub clean)

ALL CLEAN!

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I use cuticle remover cream, because I find that manicures look much tidier and my nails look much cleaner afterwards. Sometimes I like to give my nails more than one day break, and it’s a lot easier to have un-polished hands when your nails still look healthy and presentable.

After the cuticle cream comes off I then tidy up the sides of my nails making sure that there is no leftover polish or bits of lifted skin or nails near the edges of your nails. (**Word of advice, do NOT Google ‘bits of skin near nails’ if you’re a sensitive soul – or like me, sensitive and eating lunch! Good grief, plenty of posts to make you worry about what bad nail care can result in!) When you’re all clean and done, wash your hands again and use the toothbrush to clean up the areas you’ve targeted for cleaning. Once your hands are dry, apply the almond oil to your cuticles and rub the excess into both your cuticles and nails.

Next (and this step is optional but highly recommended) I use my origins hand cream and massage my hands. The video below is great for showing you how to give yourself a hand massage (even if you might want to listen to something other than the music that’s on in the background!). When I was taking my Goldsmith and Silversmith foundation courses, we had to work a lot with our hands. Aside having consistently ugly nails and hands, I also had serious cramps and some injuries from the repetitive work you do all day. I found that massaging my hands was a good way to unwind, and to treat myself after a long day.  I try and remember that it’s still something nice and easy to treat myself with, and have started trying to do these more often – even though I’ve since stopped with the jewelry making. There are plenty of good videos out there, so find your favorite and treat yourself to a short massage every once in a while.

The next step is one that makes my toes curl a wee bit. I have this thing where neither my hands nor feet appreciate being trapped in socks or gloves in the first place (yes, I’m aware that Scandinavia was possibly not the best choice of regions to live in!) and add cream to that and you will see me squirm. That is also why I really like the Origins cream for daily use, because it seeps into my thirsty skin so quickly that I can get back to my day unhindered in a few seconds. Having said this, however, I cannot deny the effects of putting on a hand mask and leaving gloves on (Soap & Glory also make a similar foot cream that also smells delicious). If you can handle it for all night, you will not regret how soft you become when you wake up.

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If you’re like me: addicted to your smart phone, and unable to handle the imprisonment of gloves – then set an alarm for 45 minutes on your phone, and watch something while you let the treatment sink in.  Even that amount of time will make a difference.

Now you’re done. Leave your nails to ‘breathe’ without polish for at least overnight, or longer if you can.

How do you like to pamper your hands? What are your favorite tips?

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4 thoughts on “Pampering your hands and nails

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