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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Five Products Are All it Takes to Get a “Perfect Ten!” Manicure

Having a set of hands which always look presentable, and yet are simple to achieve & maintain have occasionally been expressed to me as being an impossible goal. Not by a long shot is that true! It is easy to have the simple, yet beautiful, hands & nails that you’ve always wanted. And contrary to the belief of many people, you don’t need to apply nail polish to have great-looking fingernails, or spend two hours every other weekend in the manicurist’s chair. You’ll still be ready to play in the dirt, go out ice-skating, help your kid with a school project, present a PowerPoint production at work or go out to dinner w/ your significant other- and your hands will always look nice, I promise!

Here are the products that I recommend you should invest in:

1) Cuticle pusher 2) Fingernail clippers 3) Tweezerman Shape & Shine Nail Tool [a nail file & buffer] 4) Hand Cream & 5) Cuticle balm or nail oil

Once a week, I push my cuticles back, after take a I shower. My cuticles are softer then, and it doesn’t hurt at all. If any excess skin comes up, I just lightly brush it away. DO NOT CUT YOUR CUTICLES OFF! Don’t ask me why- just do as I say! I recommend the Titania brand cuticle pusher because, well, I own it & and love it. An orange stick also works just fine. I bought my cuticle pusher on www.drugstore.com, for about $12. (As usual, these aren't formal or paid endorsements, just one beauty addict's advice coming out here!) I keep it in my manicure kit, in my bedside table drawer. It’s a cuticle pusher on one side, and a triangle-shaped deep-cleaner for under the nails on the other.

Next, I trim my fingernails w/ fingernail clippers- toenail clippers are usually too heavy-duty for this job & can be a little unwieldy for a delicate chore. Tweezerman & Manicure Magic are two brands that I know of which sell good clippers. Not every woman wants or needs to do this weekly trimming. Some women simply don’t grow nails that ever get long enough to need trimmers. Some want to grow their nails at all times, and won’t willingly cut their nails back. Whatever floats your boat. The warning that I gave you about not cutting your cuticles doesn’t apply to hangnails, which do need to be trimmed back. In fact, throughout the week, whenever you have a hangnail. Trim it back as far back as possible, being careful not to trim back to much & bring on blood (err on the side of caution). The sooner you get to a hangnail, the better. Therefore, I recommend always carrying a second pair of fingernail clippers in your purse. (The little clippers are also good at trimming loose threads on clothes- got to love a multi-tasking tool to carry around!) Personally, my fingernails will grow, but I don’t like them long at all. They’re way too much of a pain to care for in that way. I’d rather have ten short, matching fingernails, all the same length, shape & finish every week. I snip them carefully, five little times each fingernail, from the outside in. It’s kind of like a half-moon octagon. A trim off the one corner, a trim between that corner & the center of the nail, right in the center, then between the center & the untouched corner, and finally, the last corner. It should have the basic shape you want- now it just needs to be filed. I recommend not going either too oval in shape (with the sides trimmed down too far) or two squared-off (sides not trimmed & filed much, or at all). Ovals can be weaker & look at bit too 1980‘s on most women. Taken too far, the cutting down the sides can lead to ingrown nails (yikes!) While a more popular shape to this day, very square-shaped nails can snag more easily, and can also be slightly weaker than a crescent shape. It does depend of your hands, but squared-off nails can make fingers look a little thicker, too, and are arguably a tad masculine.

The next stage of the game is filing. File in one direction, towards the outside of the hand, not in a see-saw motion. The reason I recommend the Tweezerman Shape & Shine Tool? It is not only a filer, but it also had a nifty three-step buffing side, as well. On one end, a nail cleaner makes up the end of this dynamite but inexpensive tool. Then three progressively-smoother files are on the workspace on one end of the tool. The blue one is what you’ll want to use for fingernails & those little rough edges that can build up on the skin of your fingertips (the others are for feet- one to file rough skin & one file better suited to smoothing the thicker, rougher toenails out). Getting a quick file done on those fingertip “calluses”, if you could even call them that, does help make for even sleeker fingers. A glass nail file is my second-place pick, and is the kind that I used for years. That, too, is great- definitely an improvement over simple emery boards, which are my dead-last resort.

I used to think that buffing nails was overkill, and a myth that the beauty crowd perpetuated to make us spend more money, time & energy than needed on our nails. But I was wrong. If you are going to use nail polish, buffing is especially important. Even if you don’t wear polish, it can leave smooth nails that shine like highly-polished silverware & won’t snag even your most delicate clothes. I literally feel the difference when I run my fingertip over a buffed nail, compared to an un-buffed one. The Tweezerman tool makes it effortless, but I know that Revlon also sells a nail buffer, and I’m sure that probably hundreds more exist out there. It’s now a step that I refuse to skip. It’s totally up to you, but if you wear hosiery, silk or other delicate fabrics, give even more thought to buffing your nails, as it really is the “finishing touch” to getting the softest, finest hands.

Hand cream comes in infinite choices. My two favorites during the day are Gold Bond Hand Sanitizing Lotion (no fragrance) & Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Fast Absorbing Hand Cream. For nighttime, I like the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Fragrance-Free Hand Cream (it’s richer than the fast-absorbing formula) or philosophy’s Time on Your Hands cream. Time on Your Hands, it should be noted, cannot be used on hands w/ an open cut or sore, as it’ll sting. This formulation is awesome- it contains an exfoliator, but without any scrubbing agents or anything obvious. If you’re out in the sun a lot, a hand lotion or cream w/ sunscreen- I know Paula’s Choice makes one, and I think B&BW does, too- is a must. You must apply hand cream frequently, if you suffer from dry skin. Painful cuticle & fingertip skin tears/cracks are a result of too little moisture getting to the skin, and hangnails are also often due to that. Few things are more painful to deal with (on a minor scale), either, than the conditions I‘ve just listed. Put hand cream wherever you can. Usually, a pump works best, unless the lotion will be in a bag. Hand cream at every sink, in every bag & in every drawer is an absolute must for me. Give away fragrance-free hand creams to your friends as gifts. They make great stocking stuffers. Often, shops will have “buy 3, get 1” sales or some other such offer to get you to buy more- in the case of hand cream, take them up on it! Just use hand cream as often as possible, and use as much in volume as possible- include your wrists, forearms & elbows, if you squeezed or pumped out a bit too much!

Finally, I’d like to give you one last trick of the trade, the one that separates the girls from the women! Cuticle balm or oil, when used daily/nightly, can really take your nails to the next level, especially if they’ve long been neglected. If you’re just taking off artificial nails for the first time in a long time, it’s an absolute necessity that you invest in such an item. While it’s pretty quick to get hands back in shape, nails & cuticles can be more ornery, and balm/oil penetrates where a hand lotion or cream just won’t quite make the cut. There are many brands of cuticle balm or salve out there- Badger, Barielle & Burt’s Bees are three that immediately come to mind. Or you can use a nail oil instead - the T.I.P.S. oil is my favorite, but there are several specially-designed oils for fingernails out there, and extra-virgin olive oil or extra-virgin coconut oil alone can work just fine, too. Most nail oils come in a fingernail polish-type bottle, with an applicator just like nail color has, as well. This makes application pretty foolproof & relatively quick. With either balm or oil, try to apply it at a time where you will not be getting your hands in water or near oil anytime soon- perhaps first thing in the morning while sipping a cup of coffee, or maybe before bed, while taking a little time to read an inexpensive paperback book. When I worked in a call center, I put it on right before I got on the phone in the a.m., and thus my nails were a captive audience until my next break (at least an hour after I started taking my first calls of the day). I recommend that you pick a time to do this each day or night, and stick to it. Make in convenient. Put a balm or bottle of oil in your desk drawer, one in your purse, one on your bedside table- as many places as you can afford to stash them. ThisWhen you have the good intentions, and the product is conveniently located amongst your most commonly-used areas, chances are you will get it done.

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