Hand and nail care is often a self-care ritual that we overlook in our everyday lives and reserve for those monthly appointments at the nail salon where we know our nail techs have us covered. But lo and behold, like most things, COVID-19 has us stuck. My personal mission at the beginning of this year was to always be rocking a fresh manicure – as a writer, I am constantly looking down at my hands and I’ve found it to be a lot more motivating to actually type something when I have a bomb ass manicure staring back at me – and well, I don’t think I need to tell you how that’s turned out. (*cue tiny violin*)
However, as I’m always one to look for the silver lining, I’m thinking of this time as a little nail vacation, giving them some much needed TLC. Although nails don’t actually need to ‘breathe’ – they get the nutrients and oxygen they need from our blood – the overuse of nail polish and subsequently acetone (nail polish remover) damages the nail cells, causing them to separate, split, peel and break. So, it’s very important for strong and consistent nail growth to allow the nail cells to repair and regenerate every once in a while.
To keep the germs at bay we’ve all been encouraged to wash our hands, and as a method for safety it’s great, but for the well-being of hands and nails, if we’re not taking moisturizing precautions, can leave our paws feeling dry, flaky and sore. Too much water and alcohol (like the ones found in hand sanitizers) exposure can also result in nail weakness, dryness and peeling. To combat this, keep the hand cream handy, remember to wear gloves when carrying out chores or try one of the home remedies we’ve recommended below. Lastly, I know that it’s fun to play nail shop but please be careful when it comes to grooming those cuticles. Trauma to the cuticle prevents it from doing its job and becomes a gateway for water and infection to enter the nail, instead apply cuticle oil and gently push back the cuticles to keep those nails looking lengthy.
Moisturising Grapefruit Soap Cleanser:
A beauty bible of mine, Carla Oates’ Feeding Your Skin is a hub of amazing kitchen beauty recipes and this one is perfect if you’re looking for a soap sans from all the moisture stripping ingredients found in regular soaps. This antiseptic foaming cleanser not only smells fresh it’s a great protectant against all those nasties we pick up during the day.
2 ½ Tbs Castile Soap
1 Tsp Olive Oil
10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
Place all ingredients in a bottle, shake well and enjoy using!
Honey Hand Steaming Mask:
If you’re feeling a little fancy and what to up the spa day rituals, a hand steam is the way to do it. Not only will your paws be feeling pampered and fresh, you’ll literally have hands softer than a babies butt – I’m not kidding. Simply slather hands in honey and steam them over a bowl of hot (not boiling!) water infused with an emollient (an ingredient that soothes and softens the skin such as lanolin, urea and glycerol) and healing herbs such as liquorice root chamomile or marshmallow root. Wash off with oatmeal and apply an oil-based moisturiser. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
A core ingredient when it comes to naturally treating the hands, and pretty much everything else! Coconut Oil mixed with any of your favourite essential oils is an easy and accessible way of keeping your hands and nails well moisturised. A little goes a long way so use tentatively. It’s also great as a cuticle oil – just massage into nails and let it work its magic.
Apple Cider Vinegar Nail Soak
Another simple, quick and easy treatment to keep your nails strong and healthy. You can soak your nails directly for around 5-10 mins in ACV concentrate or mixed with 2 parts water. ACV is great for strengthening the nails, as well as treating discolouration, infection and breakage.
A great way for caring for your body from the inside out is the taking of supplements. Vitamins such as Zinc, Biotin and Omega-3 fish oils are great at aiding strong, healthy nail growth.