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Help for hands and nails in the spotlight
With my finger’s new-found friend comes the need to keep up appearances on a constant basis. Beyond a quick smear of hand lotion before bedtime, I never paid much heed to the ends of my upper extremities before. But now that my left hand is frequently drawn up to eye level, I need to keep my fingers and nails in tip-top shape. Case in point: When I emailed a few photos of my ring to immediate family, I got a scathing response from my mother that said “MOISTURIZE!” Apparently the state of my hands was not up to snuff.
Now that I am hyper-aware of my hands’ moisture level at all times, I am never without one of my favorite lotions or creams. When I’m on the go, a 1 oz. tube of L’Occitane’s super luxurious Shea Butter Hand Cream comes along in my tote. This silky cream, formulated with 20% shea butter, softens and hydrates while leaving a subtly fresh fragrance. One small squirt goes a very long way. As long as it’s still around, I foresee myself using L’Occitane’s cream far into the future.
My bedtime ritual is never complete without rubbing the Hemp Hand Protector into my over-washed hands and sandpaper-like elbows. As The Body Shop’s best-selling product, this intensive cream alleviates flaking and roughness with a water-repellent coating. It repairs the skin’s moisture barrier with hemp seed oil (rich in essential fatty acids) and organic beeswax.
While I’m at work, Aveda Hand Relief stands sentinel on my desk, waiting for the first sign of tight skin or dry itch. It provides instant relief with the help of hydrating plant emollients (glycerin, andiroba oil, meadowfoam seed oil), exfoliating fruit acids (lactic acid from sugar beets), and brightening licorice extract. Unlike the Hemp Hand Protector, Aveda’s moisture therapy leaves no greasy residue, so my computer keyboard is spared oily fingerprints.
I do not have the time or patience, nor am I infinitely wealthy, to warrant a weekly manicure. Of course, I’ll splurge for a special occasion, but in the meantime I rely on DIY tricks to prolong professional results. Apart from a pretty sheen, the nail bed benefits the most from a pro’s handiwork (so to speak) because it gets rid of the cuticle - a fold of dead skin cells that grows onto the surface of the nail plate.
My personal maintenance regimen starts in the shower, where I push cuticles back with a sudsy nail stick when my skin is supple from the warm water. For a more intensive treatment twice a week, I apply Creative Nail Designs Cuticle Eraser around the rim of my nail bed. Its mix of alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, citric, and malic) sloughs away dead skin cells, while a blend of botanicals (including apricot kernel oil, chamomile, cucumber, comfrey, yarrow, and aloe vera), along with a high concentration of vitamin E, nourishes the surrounding skin. I think of it as a one-two punch at nasty hangnails.
Once my hands are thoroughly moisturized and my nails are primed for a polish, I get them ready for their close-up. I always start with a base coat, which helps with adhesion and prevents nail discoloration. I then apply two coats in my polish of choice from a tried and true nail care line: Essie or OPI. Both of these brands are staples in nearly every nail salon - and for good reason. Practically chip-resistant, their polishes last for a long time. The final step is to top it all off with a good top coat that seals in the color and adds shine.
My hand and nail mini-makeover may sound somewhat low-maintenance, especially for a body part that continually steals the spotlight. As long as my left hand is attracting attention for the right reasons (some pretty sparkles) and not the wrong ones (scaly skin, horrific hangnail), I don't see a need to up the ante in my regime. If you have any suggestions, however, I can always use a helping hand.