Skip the expensive mani-pedi this month and try these pro tips for nail and hand care instead. Well-groomed nails make you look instantly polished (pun intended!) and can even make hands appear more youthful.
START WITH A CLEAN SLATE
Remove all traces of polish with an acetone-free remover, which won’t dry out nails. Apply soap to a clean toothbrush, then gently scrub nails and surrounding skin to remove dirt and exfoliate without harsh, drying chemicals.
HANDLE WITH CARE
Your nails are delicate, so treat them that way: avoid using metal tools under nails, since too much digging can cause the nail plate to separate from the skin.
KEEP A NAIL FILE ON HAND
If your job or workout routine exposes your nails to potential damage, keep a nail file handy for on-the-spot buffing of any rough edges. For the smoothest finish, work in one direction with the grain of your nail.
CLIP YOUR NAILS REGULARLY
Consistent trims are as important for your nails as they are for your hair; it makes nails less prone to snags and breakage. Aim to clip your tips every two weeks or as needed.
MOISTURISE EVERY NIGHT
Apply a mix of almond and avocado oils or a nourishing hand cream. Look for humectant ingredients like glycerin, emollients such as fatty alcohols or plant oils, and occlusives like silicones, which work together to hydrate nails and skin.
GIVE YOUR CUTICLES SOME TLC
Think twice about cutting or removing them: the cuticle seals the base of the nail, and if this protective layer is disturbed, it can leave you vulnerable to bacteria and infection (as well as tears). If you need to push back your cuticles, do so once per week after you shower (when skin is soft), using a wooden orange stick. Finish by massaging cuticles and nails with a cuticle oil.
PROTECT YOUR NAILS WITH A BASE COAT
This step shields nails from being stained by polish, and helps the colour look more saturated and opaque with just one coat. Even without colour, varnishes leave a shiny, hard coating on nails; reinforce tips, making them appear thicker; and can protect against damage.
PRIORITISE HEALTH OVER LENGTH
Long nails are elegant, but if you struggle with breakage or hangnails, keep them short—at least until they grow stronger. A shorter style with rounded edges looks neat and tends to be less likely to snag, so you don’t subject your nails to extra wear and tear.
This piece originally appeared in the print edition of Penny Pinchers