Are you somebody who’s always wanted to care for their hands and nails but has never really known where to start? Well, we have some basic manicure tips to help you finally start getting your hands and nails in tip-top condition.
The cuticle is the part of skin found at the base of the nail. It prevents dirt and bacteria from getting underneath the nail plate, where it could lead to infection. The skin should be loose and soft, but if not cared for properly it can become overgrown, dry and split.
You should never push the cuticles back when they are dry. When pushing the cuticles back as part of your manicure routine, always make sure you have used a cuticle cream or soaked the nails for a few minutes beforehand. This will help to soften the skin. If you are short on time, an ideal opportunity is straight after a bath or shower, as the cuticles will have had plenty of time to soften up.
To push the cuticles back, gently use a wooden cuticle stick in circular movements around the cuticle. This will remove any dead skin and will gently push the cuticle back. Be careful not to push the cuticles back too far. You can then use cuticle nippers to remove any hangnails or dead skin, but this should only be done if it’s essential.
The nails should appear a healthy pink colour and be smooth and supple. The length and shape is a personal choice, but the most common nail shapes are round, square, squoval, coffin and stiletto. It’s important to remember that some of these shapes are not suitable for natural nails.
You should never bite your nails. This can damage the skin that surrounds the nail, harm your teeth, and lead to infection. You should also never use the nails as a tool, such as opening a can of drink, as this can cause the nails to split.
Before you file your nails, make sure you have removed any old nail polish. If you are somebody who wears false nails or gel polish, always remove this correctly and never pick it off. When filing the free edge (the white part of the nail that grows beyond the finger), never use a sawing motion. You should always file from the outer corner to the centre and then repeat the other side.
Keeping the hands in good condition is just as important as caring for the skin on your face. Did you know our hands often reveal our true age? A good way to start looking after your hands and nails is to wear gloves when washing up, gardening, using harsh chemicals or cleaning. This is to avoid stripping the nails of their natural oils and to prevent cuts and scrapes to the hands. You should also make sure you keep your hands moisturised as much as possible. A good tip is to keep a bottle of hand cream beside your bed to use last thing at night.
Painting your nails
Regular polish can be applied at home and is easy to use, although it can take around 1-2 hours before it’s completely dry. The polish will often last around 5-7 days before it starts to chip. When this happens it can be removed with standard nail varnish remover. As this type of polish is easy to remove, it allows you to regularly change the colour of your nails. Always make sure you use a base coat to prevent the nails from staining, and always apply a topcoat to seal the colour and prolong your manicure. Along with a variety of colours, you can often find clear polishes that can help with certain nail problems, including nail biting and weak nails.
Gel polish can last up to 2-3 weeks if cared for properly. The main reason people love gel polish so much is because it dries immediately under a UV or LED lamp. It’s usually applied in a salon, but kits have now become available to use at home. Gel polish must be removed with acetone and never picked or pulled off, as this is most often what causes damage to the nails.
Words by Nicole ???