Beauty at your fingertips and toenails
By Shabna Cader
Ever take a close look at your hands and feet? Have you really been taking good care of your nails? Your nails are constantly under threat. Irrespective of how many times you wash your hands, tend to do pedicures at spas and even layer it with nail polish and then remove it with nail polish remover, your nails are being harmed in some way or the other, whether you pay attention or not.
Under close inspection, nails are supposed to be soft, shapely and smooth. However, if they are coarse, chipped, discoloured and uneven, that is when you need to take in to consideration that something needs to be done.
Whilst some skin specialists would recommend a hand cream, many often tend to forget that this might not be such a good idea for the fingernails. If your nails show signs of brittle, look chapped or discoloured, switch to another cream. Ideally, it should be a tub of cream that includes a lot of moisture so that the effects are long-lasting. A natural way of dealing with dry hands and nails is to rub slices of raw potato or wedges of lemon on them. You could also soak your hands in liquid that is made of part lemon juice and part water. Do this for 5 - 10 minutes. Afterwards, wash them with lukewarm water and pat dry with a towel. Hands and nails often tend to get dry if something of moisture is not used thereafter, so massage with a milky cream or lotion. You can also do this before you go to bed.
It is also widely suggested that nails are treated to manicures and pedicures every two weeks or at least once a month. If you cannot afford to do it this way, you can most certainly try it at the comfort and ease of your own home.
Use a nail polish remover to clean your nails even if you do not have polish on.
Use a nail file to trim the nails into a desired shape. It is important that you do not file the sides (corners) as this will weaken the nail and encourage chipping or breaking.
Soak your hands in lukewarm water for about ten minutes. Brush the nails gently with a nail brush.
Dry hands and feet afterwards. Gently push back the cuticles with the towel while drying. Remember to do this every time you wash your hands or feet.
Apply a cuticle cream
Carefully clean under the nails. Make sure you do not hurt yourself.
Clip any loose bits of skin around the cuticle if there are any.
Once that is done, apply a base coat of polish. Let it dry and then apply nail polish. Finish off with a top coat.
If you want to keep your nails looking pink and healthy, opt for something translucent.
Dos and don’ts
Ensure that you never use a nail or blade to remove nail polish. This will only scrape the nail and damage it further. To keep cuticles smooth and healthy, mix white iodine and castor oil in equal amounts and massage. Wearing nail polish for too long tends to make the nails turn yellow, so make sure to use a base coat under the coloured polish to prevent your nails from getting stained. When filing them, make sure you file from the outside to the centre and never the other way round! This can weaken or break nails.
Another way to keep your nails healthy is to massage them with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Almond oil is also known to be of good use. Eat healthy; you are what you eat, as are your nails. Therefore, consume food that is rich in Vitamin B, potassium, iron and calcium. Such food includes soy products, celery, eggs and seafood. Massage your hands and feet as often as you can, even during your daily activities. Massaging will boost circulation and encourage nail growth. In a working environment, ensure that you are cautious; opening letters with your nails, typing on the keypad of a computer or laptop can be damaging.
When selecting what products to use on your nails, ensure that you check the ingredients at the back of the bottle or bottom of the tub. Do not use nail products that contain formaldehyde or toluene. These ingredients are known to pose health risks, not just for the nails but for the entire body as well. You can always clarify with a skin specialist or nail therapist and ask for their opinions on what the best products in the market are and their availability. Make smart choices and keep your nails looking healthy and clean!