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I absolutely love treating myself to pamper sessions. Facials, massages, hairdressers, you name it – I’m there! But one thing I really can’t live without is getting my nails done. It has become a ritual which leaves me feeling like a new woman every time I leave the salon.
When I was younger, my friends and family used to comment on how jealous they were of my nails. Back then I didn’t think much of it until I started to get the same reaction from strangers.
The other day I was sitting in a salon in Kensington getting my nails done when the lady next to me lent over and said: “are those your real nails?” – and so, a conversation ensued.
Although I might have had some luck with genes, (my grandmother has the most beautiful nails I have ever seen) I try to stick to a strict nail routine – and I really believe this is at the core of my healthy hands.
We tend to forget how important it is to look after our hands. We use them so much that it’s vital we give them a bit of extra love and care.
Here are my tips for having healthy looking hands and nail care all year round.
Tip one: invest in good nail care
The secret to long and healthy nails is a good nail care routine. This will help your nails fight back years of harsh treatments.
When searching for the best serums or oils the key ingredient to look out for is vitamin E. As an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents nails from drying out, cracking and turning yellow. It protects both the nail and the cuticle and is intensely hydrating.
I have been using a vitamin E pen for a long time now, which conveniently releases oil onto a brush that can then be painted onto the cuticle. Try Vitamin E Cuticle Oil Pen, Nails Inc, £14, Feelunique.
If you have short nails which take ages to grow, then it is crucial you invest in a growth serum. I use Sally Hansen’s Nail Growth Miracle Serum and simply rub it into my cuticles about three times a week. It can be used on bare or painted nails (including on gels).
Tip two: look out for harsh chemicals in products
Before purchasing new nail polish, there are three chemicals to look out for: formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. These chemicals can be toxic and don’t do much for nails.
My favourite brands for a safer experience include OPI, Sally Hansen, Zoya and Nails Inc. The safest, in my opinion is Zoya, which is the first nail polish brand to become 100% toxic-free.
Chemicals aren’t only important when it comes to nail polish though. Whenever I take my nail polish off, I opt for acetone-free remover. Although the substance isn’t toxic, in the long run it may dehydrate nails, making them flaky and brittle.
Tip three: don’t be afraid of cutting your nails regularly
I used to be terrified of short nails to the point where I let mine grow so long that they would end up breaking in painful ways. After getting over my fear, I started to cut them once every couple of weeks and found that they actually began to grow back thicker and faster.
Tip four: try to give your nails a breather
Even though I have practically moved into the salon with how frequently I like to get my nails done, it is critical that you give your nails a break from treatments like acrylic extensions, Shellac and gel application. I no longer allow myself to get sets of acrylics after my nails started to weaken, split and turn yellow.
My go-to is a Shellac manicure, as it is much less damaging on your nails than other treatments. However, make sure you get your Shellac removed after a maximum of three weeks so as to limit damage at the nail’s surface (and get it done professionally if you can, to avoid scraping and damaging the nail yourself).
Tip five: remember to always use hand cream to moisturise
My favourite part of getting my nails done is when I get a hand massage before leaving – I always have the smoothest hands on my way home!
With so many different brands selling hand creams it can be hard to choose the right one. I tried a whole host of brands including Avene, Eucerin, Jo Malone and L’Occitane, and it has taken me years to find one which works best for my skin.
My favourite hand cream which I now use religiously is from Skandinavisk, a Danish brand. It has organic ingredients including spring water from Denmark, and it never feels greasy on my hands, with a thick, creamy texture that absorbs easily into the skin. To top it off, it smells like pine needles and reminds me of Christmas – plus, the tube is completely recyclable.
Make sure you don’t skip this step! It will leave both your hands and nails feeling and looking brand new.