Your hands and nails take a constant beating from the cumulative effects of sun exposure, cold, heat, wind, hot water, even paperwork and generally using your nails as a tool. (You know who you are!). What’s even worse is that they can really show your age if your don’t take steps to keep them soft, supple and well groomed on a daily basis.
Here are our 7 top hand-saving strategies:
Dry Cuticles – Best salvation for dry cuticles is frequent moisturizing with emollients, such as the cult classic L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Creme ($24). Rub it in a few times a day and pop a small tube into your purse or desk drawer. For extra help, keep CND Solaroil ($11.50) as your BFF and brush generously over brittle nails and ragged cuticles in the AM and at bedtime. Try to find the pro size (32 golden ounces) at a beauty supply store – yes it is that good.
Ridges – Vertical ridges that run from cuticle to tip tend to come with age. These can be minimized with a ridge filling base coat to even out the surface of the nail before polishing, like Essie Nail Care Ridge Filler ($9). One coat smooths out the surface of the nail so your mani will look perfect.
Discoloration – Nails can turn a yellowish hue from constantly wearing polish and not giving the natural nail a chance to breath. Darker toned polishes, deep reds, purples, black and blue hues, can actually stain the nails. Soaking in a shallow bowl of hydrogen peroxide can help lighten up this problem, and always using a protective base coat before applying polish is beneficial.
Weak Nails – Keeping hands and nails protected by using gentle non-acetone nail polish removers minus the harsh solvents that can make nails weak. Protein can also strengthen nails. Use a hardening base and top coat to fortify compromised nails and prevent breakage. Deborah Lippman Hard Rock Nail Strengthening Base and Top Coat ($20) does double duty. Avoid using alcohol-based hand sanitizers too that can be more drying. Keep super weak nails short – long nails tend to break and snag more easily.
Nails That Don’t Grow – Nails that don’t grow fast enough could be a sign of an underlying health problem or a vitamin deficiency. Try taking a supplement that contains biotin to help grow nails. Good sources of biotin from foods are peas, oats, soybeans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and brown rice. Healthy nails require a daily dose of vitamins, including B-complex, C, A, E , D, calcium, zinc, iodine and iron. If you aren’t getting enough through your diet, an oral vitamin boost may do the trick. Appearex ($29.50) is a tablet taken daily that contains 2.5 mg of biotin to strengthen nails.
Brittle Nails – Brittle nails tend to split and peel. Gloves are an obvious, yet often overlooked, solution. Wear gloves outdoors in cold, windy weather, and use rubber gloves when you’re washing dishes (heaven forbid) or cleaning with solvents to avoid further chemical damage. If your nails are very dry, try sleeping with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturizing Hand Treatment ($21) and cotton gloves overnight and awake with soft hands and nails. For daily use, look for hand and nail creams that contain petrolatum, glycerin, shea butter, safflower seed oil, and hyaluronic acid to replenish moisture and restore nail health.
Dead Skin Buildup -Exfoliation is the key is healthy, beautiful hands and nails. ZO Skin Health Microderm Hand Renewal ($50) is just the ticket to polish away surface cells and maintain smoother, younger looking skin. And you can’t have great looking nails without taking care of your hands – and that includes using a daily SPF. ZO Skin Health Oraser Daily Hand Repair SPF20 ($65) is loaded with peptides, retinol, antioxidants and amino acids for hands that need some serious pampering.