Protect your hands as much as possible – they can quickly show signs of wear, tear, and ageing. Wear barrier cream, outdoor gloves when in bad weather, and household gloves when working indoors. Use hand cream as often as possible – get into the habit of applying it every time you dry your hands.
Exercise your hands to keep them supple, and reduce the risk of arthritic fingers in later years. Stretch out your arms and make a tight fist: then fling your fingers outwards a couple or times. Circle your hands from the wrist, and shake them about to get the circulation moving.
Once you’ve started this basic care and protection your fingernails will automatically improve (unless you’re a nail biter!), but there are some problems, such as flaking and brittle nails, that can be helped with a good manicure.
Start by collecting together the things you’ll need.
- A small bowl of warm water (a sponge is nice to press on)
- An emery board or nail file
- An orange stick – with cotton wool wrapped around the tip
- Cuticle clippers
- Nail polish remover
- Cuticle cream and cuticle remover
- Hand cream
- Nail Polish including base coat and hardener.
- Remove old nail polish.
- File the nail into shape not too pointed, and not filed too far down at the sides. File in one direction only, from the side to the tip, not back and forth. Round off the top to a shape somewhere between an oval and a square.
- Massage a dot of cuticle cream into each nail and dip fingers in water for 2 minutes.
- Dab hands dry. Ease back cuticle with cotton-tipped orange stick using little circular motions.
- If you have a lot of skin clinging to the nail bed, use a cuticle remover. Wipe off the cuticle cream and paint cuticle remover around each nail bed. Work around the cuticle again with fresh cotton wool on your orange stick.
- Wash off cuticle remover. Dry your hands.
- If you have loose skin or hang nails around the edges of your nails snip away with cuticle clippers. Never cut around the whole cuticle — the skin grows back into a hard horny layer. Clippers are extremely sharp so be careful not to slip.
- Massage a generous dollop of hand cream from fingertips to elbows!
- Put on a pair of cheap cotton gloves to let the cream work into your skin.
- Before you apply nail polish, clean off the nail surface thoroughly; traces of lotions and creams prevent the polish from sticking well.