Helping hands

Hands up – how often do you treat your hands and nails to the same beauty rituals as your face? Laura Pollard reveals why and how we should treat our hard-working hands and nails to some TLC

The hands of time

While most of us take care of our complexions on a daily basis with dedicated skincare routines, we often forget to treat the delicate skin on our hands, despite the fact that they are constantly exposed to environmental aggressors, and therefore prone to dryness and signs of ageing. Priti Patel, Skin Therapist at Riverbanks Wellness and Anti-aging Clinic, says: “The skin on our hands is delicate; the cushioning and supporting fat layer below the skin is thinner [than elsewhere on the body] so the bones and veins are more visible. In addition, hands are constantly exposed to the environment, UV rays and chemicals that we use in our households, as well as pollution, germs, dirt and temperature changes.”

As with our faces, the hands are especially at risk from sun exposure. Patel explains: “Age spots are really sun spots. They show many years after the cellular DNA damage has been done.” Hands are even prone to UV damage through glass, such as while driving or through an office window.

Fine lines and wrinkles are also common on the hands due to a loss of collagen and lipids as we age, hormones and dehydration. In order to minimise potential damage, regular moisturisation and UV protection are key. Recommend hand creams containing antioxidants to protect the skin, plus UV protection of at least SPF 30. A healthy diet including plenty of oily fish and vegetables will also help to nourish skin from the inside out.

Customers can create a luxurious at-home hand treatment with a premium-quality hand cream like Elemis Pro-Radiance Hand and Nail Cream (RRP £25). Formulated with lipid-rich oils, it will condition both the skin’s surface and the deeper layer beneath. For everyday use, Avène Hand Cream with Cold Cream (RRP £6.50) is perfect for dry, delicate skin, with a smooth, non-greasy finish that comforts hands.

At night, customers can indulge in the Mavala Repairing Night Cream (RRP £38.50), complete with gloves to help the cream penetrate the skin more deeply. This rich cream encourages cell renewal and moisture retention.


DIY Manicure guide

Nails Inc manicurist Roni Dawkins-Alder gives her top tips to the perfect at-home manicure:

  • The cuticles are very delicate and should be tidied up with a cuticle remover. Apply to the nail bed, leave for 30 seconds and remove the dead skin with a wooden stick. Gently push cuticles back with a rubber or metal cuticle pusher
  • When filing, follow the shape of the cuticle to achieve the most natural nail shape. Avoid see-saw filing; instead, file in one direction from the side of the nail to the middle.
  • Once all the nails have been filed, turn the emery board or nail file on its side and file the tips from the back of your nail towards you. This seals the ends to avoid snagging and unsightly jagged edges.
  • Varnish is best applied in three strokes. Apply from about halfway up the nail and push the brush down towards the nail bed, then up to the tip for the best control. To avoid flooding the cuticle area, always leave a little gap between the cuticle and the nail for a professional, polished finish.
  • If you do need to tidy up your manicure, the Nails Inc SOS Pen (RRP £13) is a saviour! The nib dispenses a small amount of nail polish remover to the area to quickly tidy up any little mistakes.

Common issues, nailed

Dry, brittle nails, ridges and discolouration are all a reality for many customers. Ginger Coners, Senior Director of Research and Development at Coty, says: “Some people have naturally dry nails and cuticles. Additionally, daily exposure to soap, shampoo and even water can strip natural oils, leaving nails and cuticles dry and in need of a moisture boost. Dry, brittle nails can crack and break, and dry cuticles tear and are unsightly and uncomfortable. A moisturised nail is flexible and not brittle, helping to withstand breakage. A moisturised cuticle sets the groundwork for optimised nail growth potential.”

But what does ‘moisturised’ actually mean when it comes to nails? Madeline Poole, Global Colour Ambassador for Sally Hansen, explains: “Moisture can refer to either the amount of liquids you’re consuming or the amount of moisture you’re applying topically to the nail and cuticle.” Both are necessary in order to tackle dry nails. As well as drinking more water, Poole suggests recommending Sally Hansen Moisture Rehab (RRP £9.95) to customers concerned about nail dryness. This nutrient-rich overnight moisture serum offers a hydrating boost to help restore dry, brittle nails and cuticles.

For nails riddled with ridges, Madeline reveals: “Ridges are caused by extreme dryness under the cuticle.” If ridges are an issue for your customer, suggest applying a moisturising nail oil or cream regularly, such as Mavala Nailactan (RRP £18) – a nutritive nail cream full of essential amino acids, lipids and vitamins. Sonia Hully, CEO and Founder of Nailberry, says: “Oils are most effective when massaged into the nail and cuticle at night. Plus, the massaging technique will allow for maximum absorption and hydration.” Nailberry Little Treasure Cuticle Oil (RRP £17) offers a nourishing blend of sweet almond oil and vitamins E and F. Nails Inc manicurist Roni Dawkins-Alder adds: “Coconut oil in warm water is a great nail soak, as the coconut oil will help to soften cuticles and moisturise nails.” You could also recommend a primer base varnish, such as Rimmel London Nail Nurse Nail Base and Top Coat (RRP £4.49), which helps fill in ridge, enhance strength and protect against breakages.

Nail trends

Two ends of the colour spectrum were apparent on the Fashion Week catwalks: bolder, darker hues of black, greys and burnt metallics shone through while in contrast, more muted, natural shades of cloudy pink, soft rose gold, off white and ‘greige’ (beige and grey combined) demanded as much attention at Marc Jacobs. To re-create the former trend, advise customers to follow in the footsteps of 3.1 Philip Lim models, who wore a coat of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Birthday Suit, followed by a metallic overlay of Buffalo Nickel (RRP £9.99 each).

Ombré for the nails was also an apparent trend on the catwalks; think pewter to black, natural to grey, or rose tips to gold. If the natural look is more their thing, recommend Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Shell We Dance? (RRP £6.99), a pretty pink used at Stella McCartney’s show during London Fashion Week. For a more bubblegum pink, suggest OPI Nail Lacquer in Getting Nadi on my Honeymoon (RRP £12.50), while Coconuts Over OPI (RRP £12.50) is the perfect hue for the muted taupe trend.

To hide unruly cuticles, take inspiration from the catwalk look at Rodarte, where cuticles were lined with gold glitter rims. Sonia Hully, CEO and Founder of Nailberry, says: “This trend is very easy to replicate; simply dot a glittery polish such as Nailberry Stardust or Pink Sand (RRP £14.50 each) around the cuticles for an easy, understated look.”

Super-shiny gel-finish manicures are no longer only available in the salon; home-use products, like the Rimmel Super Gel two-step system (RRP £5.99), offer a gel-effect finish with no UV light required, and can be taken off with normal nail varnish remover. Alternatively, Bourjois La Laque Gel (RRP £6.99) could last for up to 15 days when finished with a layer of Le Top Coat Gel (RRP £6.99).

Whichever polish your customer opts for, Dawkins-Alder recommends: “Always use a base coat to protect the nails from staining.” Nails Inc Superfood Base Coat (RRP £15) brightens and nourishes the nails with vitamins while protecting them, to promote growth and strength.



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