By Rav Deol
Not so long ago I met up with a dear male friend for a luncheon date. I have to say I felt rather nice, wearing my snazzy new cape and sporting a great bit of strobing. Taking one look at my hands, and then extending his own, he remarked: “Oh my God girlfriend, look at the state of your hands, you could have at least made an effort and made sure your nails were done for our lunch date, a little bit of self-respect wouldn’t go amiss…”
Even the new cape wasn’t enough for him, he was disgusted and totally right, the closest these hands had come to cream lately was the éclair I had eaten the day before. As I looked at his smooth hands and preened nails, I did feel a bit guilty. See, I have always been a great advocate of taking good care of my hands and having smashing nails. I believe that, along with the unforgiving décolletage that’s been neglected, hands are huge perpetrators in betraying your age and unkempt hands can heavily compromise an appearance, no matter how well-groomed you otherwise may be. It does not go unnoticed, I for one am SO guilty of checking out people’s hands!! It’s not the easiest and most important thing for many of us to get manicured regularly, but it’s so easy to neglect our hands in the rigmarole of life. I think well maintained hands are a quick, easy and affordable way to feel pampered. Here are some of my best and easiest tips for great looking hands: Keep hands looking soft by exfoliating and moisturising. A very popular and easy method of exfoliating is using a homemade mixture of white sugar or oatmeal with olive or almond oil and massaging onto your hands in a gentle, circular motion. Wash off with warm water and follow with a nice hand cream.
The skin on the backs of our hands is thinner than other areas and can be affected by so many things. Every day wear and tear, age, weather, chemicals found in detergents and exposure to hot water can damage the skin but a good hand cream can provide some protection. You know that tight, out of the tomb feeling when you wash your face but don’t moisturise? Well, that’s how your hands feel every time you wash them with hot water and soap! Apply moisturiser after washing your hands, keep it by the sink so you won’t forget, or on your desk, in your bag or car. Try and use a suitable hand cream as these are often more intense than regular creams and, if you’re not using a separate oil, don’t forget to rub into the cuticles, too. I always have a tube of Crème Jeunesse des Mains by Clarins, Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion and L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream to hand as these are my firm favourites. If you can find the time, follow the exfoliate and moisturise routine one night, place a small plastic bag over each hand, put on some mittens and go to sleep.
The cream will have hours to penetrate the warmed skin. Of course it’s faffy, I know, but the results are worth it! The difference in the appearance of dry, flaky hands and well moisturised mitts is astonishing. Along with moisturised and smooth skin, well shaped and even nails are a must in my books. There is just no excuse for a medley of different sized/shaped nails because, after all, nail clipping is the lowest form of nail maintenance that there could be. Nicely shaped, buffed/well polished nails immediately perk up hands. If polished nails are not to your taste, then clean, equally clipped and shaped natural nails also look a treat, simple and elegant. Uniformity is the key here. Where you do like a spot of colour on your nails, I have absolutely no advice whatsoever about matching colours to skin tone, outfits or seasons because I adhere to no such rules.
I say go with whatever your heart desires, unless there is a particular occasion where etiquette should be exercised in which case ensure your nails befit the circumstances. Remember to use a good quality base coat before applying polish to avoid nails becoming stained, especially when applying darker shades. Gel polishes are well lauded cousins of the conventional polishes because they last longer, having been cured under a UV lamp. (Do remember that UV rays can be harmful, from premature ageing and wrinkling to cancer scares, be aware. Whilst the potential damage from UV rays following a manicure may be minute, I would still suggest a suitable hand cream with SPF before using the lamp, just because). Alternatively, hybrid apply at home polishes with a gel formulation that do not require curing are also now available for a longer lasting polish.
A hugely popular choice for a number of years are nail enhancements in the form of extensions which provide instant uniformity, length and pizzazz to nails and hands. Nail art, bling and the assortment of tip shapes (squoval, stiletto or coffin, anyone?), it’s a whole separate world! These enhancements may well have a more glamorous effect than a standard polish but do select carefully from where you receive your service. Where salon and technician based services are used, it is so important to ensure that technicians have adequate training and experience and exercise a meticulous hygiene routine. Germs can linger on implements and be passed on to clients so be mindful. Remember that implements, heavy handedness, glues and chemicals used in the application and removal of such enhancements can also be harsh and can cause long lasting damage to the nail plate which can take months to repair.
Fungal infections, cracked and brittle nails, the potential damage can be terrible so be sure your technician and salon is the best you can find. Where nails have already been damaged, you should let your nails re-grow and repair before indulging in any further treatments. If you suffer from peeling, weak or brittle nails, make some small changes. Ensure your nail polish remover doesn’t contain acetone, which strips your nail of natural oils and causes brittleness. Consider taking Vitamin B, which is widely recommended as an aiding supplement for stronger nails and use a nail strengthener to strengthen and repair. I can swear by OPI Nail Envy nail strengthener, which is available in a variety of formulations. Use it under or as a regular polish and see the difference. It is absolutely brilliant and I have witnessed an improvement in some terrible nail scenarios with this!! On a more serious note, however, if nails have a significant change in appearance, discolour brown or yellow and cause pain, it may be a fungal infection that needs some medical attention. I’ll be sure to take my own advice before my next lunch date, what are your favourite tips for hand and nail care? Leave your comments for the chance to win some hand and nail goodies!
Until next time x