As mentioned in my ‘About Me’ section I am currently studying at college for my Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy. It is strange being back at school after so long (I am 10 years older than most of my fellow students eek) but I am having the best time; the course is so so informative and interesting and the girls I am studying with are lovely (and so youthful, *sigh*).
Our first module has been manicures and I am now at the stage where I can treat members of the public which is very exciting. As well as learning how to perform the manicure, polish and hand/arm treatments I have learnt what aftercare to recommend to clients. I feel that this information will be useful to everyone generally, especially as we are all probably suffering with drier hands and nails at the moment (bye bye Summer). As well as knowing how to treat your hands when experiencing a particular problem such as dry skin it is crucial we all look after our hands regardless of any issues. Below are my 10 top tips on getting and keeping your hands and nails in great condition:
1. Apply hand cream regularly, particularly after washing your hands. A good moisturising cream will replenish the natural moisturising oils of your skin and will help reduce signs of ageing. This is one of the main tips for every nail and skin type. I apply cream at least 5 times a day and have been for the last few months and the difference it has made to the quality of my skin is huge. My favourite hand cream of all time is made by L’Occitane; I am currently using the Passionate Jasmine edition that I received free with a magazine recently (read my review here).
2. Use cuticle oil daily. I use OPI Avoplex Nail and Cuticle Replenishing Oil (I bought mine on eBay but you can find it here at Boots). I keep my little pot on my bedside table and once I’m in bed I dab just a small amount onto each cuticle, rub it in to the nail and the matrix (where the skin meets the nail). It is so important to care for your cuticles because they act as a barrier protecting your nail bed. If your cuticles become torn the matrix (which is the only live part of your nail: it is where the cells divide to make the actual nail plate) can become infected.
3. Wear gloves! Keep your hands and nails protected from the elements by wearing a nice pair of gloves; it really does make a difference! In the colder months our skin dries out which reduces the sebum (our skin’s natural oil) and leaves our hands more susceptible to cracking and dryness. So protect your fingers with something warm and cosy. My favourite gloves were purchased in M&S a few years ago; they are leather with a cashmere lining *dreamy*. You can find a similar pair here. Additionally, it is recommended you wear rubber gloves when cleaning, washing up etc to protect your skin from chemicals. We also tell clients to avoid using chemicals and detergents so take this as a perfect excuse to get someone else doing the washing up!
4. Exfoliate your hands once a week. You can use any decent body scrub to do this. I love the Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub – it smells DIVINE! Soap and Glory is 3 for 2 at Boots at the mo. An exfoliator scrubs away the dead skin cells and consequently your hand lotion will absorb better into healthy skin underneath and your skin will feel much softer. Exfoliation stimulates blood flow to the skin’s surface so your hands (or whatever body part you’re exfoliating) will look brighter and healthier. Don’t overdo it or your skin will become sensitive and sore.
5. Make bath-time cuticle-time! Wrap the tip of an orangewood stick with a thin layer of cotton wool and GENTLY push back your cuticles after a nice bubble bath. If you don’t have an orangewood stick use the corner of a towel. Well groomed cuticles will make your nails look longer and healthier. Remember – perfecting your cuticles takes time and a gentle touch!
6. Use supplements for ageing/mature nails. Take daily oral supplements of Evening Primrose oil or Star Flower oil. Additionally, use lemon juice to fix discolouration of nails.
7. Use base-coats and top-coats designed to help fix your particular nail condition.
8. DO NOT USE: metal nail files/acetone based varnish remover/strengthening base-coats if you have brittle nails (when your nails shatter easily/split very low).
9. Have regular manicures. Believe me, they really make a difference! At college not only am I practicing manicures but am also being a model for fellow students. The condition of my hands and nails has improved ridiculous amounts after having at least one manicure a week! Look into hand treatments too – hot paraffin wax treatments are perfect for those with poor circulation and ageing nails. For moisture injections go for hand masks with warm mitts or exfoliating treatments.
10. BUFF! Use a chamois leather buffer, buff from top to tip of your nail and release the buffer from the nail after every stroke to avoid friction. You’ll get a nice shine to the nail and it helps reduce those pesky ridges.