The Final Touch: How To Have Beautiful Hands And Feet?
Beautifully kept hands, soft and smooth with strong well-shaped nails all one length is quickly noticed. Equally quickly noticed are dry, blistered, wrinkled ones with bitten, dirty or split nails. In summer or on holiday, feet are exposed to the same sort of scrutiny and toenails are as noticeable as fingernails, needing just as much year-round care.
Feet work enormously hard for their living — they take the full weight of your body and their condition can affect the way you feel each day. Everyone knows the facial expression (and feel) of pain that comes from ill-fitting shoes, corns, blisters or just feet that have walked too far and aren’t used to it. Problem feet can be due to a variety of causes, including heredity, ill-fitting shoes, poor posture, and fatigue. Flat-footedness and a predisposition to bunions caused by the first toe being shorter than the second seem to be inherited. But many other problems are the result of foot abuse — expecting the foot to carry all kinds of weight in all sorts of footwear over all kinds of the surface without any care or maintenance at all.
It’s an excellent idea to have a professional manicure and pedicure from time to time, but in between set aside a regular hour or so at least once a week for hands and feet — and start with your feet because you’ll need your hands to work on them; then they can rest and the polish can dry while you attend to your hands.
How to Choose your Nail Colour
First, examine carefully the shape of your hands, feet and the condition of your nails — but consider each separately.
First your hands — if you are fortunate enough to have been born with really beautifully shaped hands and fingers and have nourished and cared for your nails, you can choose virtually any color of the rainbow as polish. They run from brown, russet and plum to the pale pretty pinks and shocking to the vibrant poster paint primaries, blue, green, yellow and all the true brilliant reds. If you have great nails, polish them bright.
The very pale, opaque, ivory or bone shades, and the harsh iridescent or very dark colors are more eye-catching than medium tones. So, if you feel your hands leave a bit to be desired in the way of shape but your nails are in good condition, choose mid-tone corals and pinks that blend naturally with your clothes and makeup.
But, however good or bad the shape of your hands, if your nails are broken, bitten or unsightly, forget color and put your effort towards repairing them. Buff them to a natural shine — this also stimulates circulation, and blood feeds the matrix where the nail grows — or paint them with a clear natural polish which will help protect and strengthen them.
Tips to Remember when Painting Nails
The prettiest nail is filed into a soft oval, the cuticle massaged away and loosened off the nail, the skin kept soft with hand cream.
Start by filing nails, properly, with the fine side of an emery board, always towards the center. Never file them into points or down into the corners.
If you paint the color down the side of the nails, it tends to broaden their appearance, so only do this if they are long and narrow.
If nails incline to be broad, leave the last tiny strip on either side clear.
If nails are slim, they may look good with the moons left clear, but this also has a widening effect, so if they are the slightest bit square, cover the moons.
If you decide on half-moons, the first stroke of color should be taken across from one side of the moon’s edge to the other; they need a very steady hand for a good effect, so unless you’ve had plenty of practice, leave it to a professional manicurist.
Before you start painting, be sure your nails are absolutely clean — after removing obvious dirt, a white pencil run under the nail tip brightens the tone.
For soft nails, or those that are flaking, a nail hardener will help and a base coat or protective topcoat will lengthen the life of your chosen nail color.
The best way to remove old polish is too wet a cotton pad with remover, hold it on the nail for a minute to pre-soften the polish and wipe off slowly. Then, most important, wash hands and around nails thoroughly to take off the remover.
A weekly manicure is a plenty; too frequent use of remover weakens your nails’ natural strength. Remover is largely acetone and excessive use of it can cause the essential cementing ingredients to dry out, which causes splitting nails. It’s better to touch up polish between manicures rather than remove it every time there’s a chip. Buy oil-based remover — it’s less drying.
Putting on Polish
Prime with a base coat to prevent chipping. Allow it to dry, then apply several coats of polish, drying each coat before applying the next. Last, put on a top coat for added strength. Delicate nails can benefit from nail hardeners applied to just the free, unattached edge.
Apply polish with decisive strokes from the base of the nail to the tip — make sure you don’t get too much polish on the brush or you will get blobs on the nail and be tempted to go back and smooth them out. Three thin coats will give a much smoother result than one thick one — and will last much longer.
The bright, vivid shine of polish is a nice finishing touch for toenails, especially in summer — or whenever you wear sandals. Pick a good basic color that will go with many things, so you won’t have to change polish too often. Polish should last two weeks.
Again foot condition, foot shape and the health of their nails must influence your choice of color, but generally speaking, a bright clear red, rust or magenta looks prettiest. With open-toed shoes or sandals, don’t forget that your feet are very much a part of your top-to-toe appearance and the color of your toenails should blend or contrast deliberately with the colors you are wearing.
Twelve Steps to a Professional Pedicure
First, assemble your equipment — most of these things last quite a long time and are used for your manicure or other parts of your beauty routine, so it’s not such a daunting, expensive list as it may first appear:
nail polish remover, cotton wool, tissues, a bowl large enough for both your feet to rest in comfortably when filled with warm, soapy water (a mild shampoo is ideal, don’t use detergent), a towel, nail brush, pumice stone, emery board, orange sticks, cuticle cream or oil, body lotion, base coat, coloured polish, top coat.
- Remove all traces of existing polish.
- Soak both feet in the bowl of soapy water for about five minutes (while you are doing this, you can use the time to remove old polish from your fingernails).
- Use a pumice stone on soles, heels, and sides of feet to remove rough dry skin.
- Dry feet carefully, particularly between the toes.
- Apply cuticle cream or oil to the toenail and massage well. Then, using a rounded orange stick (reshape and soften the ends with a penknife and make sure there are no splinters to catch and tear your skin), gently push back the cuticles and help the cream or oil to penetrate underneath and reach the matrix where the nails form and grow.
- Rinse feet in the warm clear water and dry again thoroughly.
- Clip nails straight across; don’t clip into the side or try to cut a curved shape as this encourages in-growing toenails, which are unsightly and painful. (Toenails shouldn’t be too long or they will press against your shoes, but they should be all one length.)
- File the ends smooth with an emery board. Massage toes and feet well with a moisturizing body lotion, then wipe the nail area clean with a tissue (polish won’t stick if any greasiness is left.)
- Twist tissue into two long sausage shapes and wind them in and out of your toes — this separates the toes and prevents polish smudging from one toe to the other.
- Apply base coat— more important on toenails than fingernails as they tend to be rougher; this will provide a smooth foundation for polish.
- Apply two coats of your chosen color — and lastly a top coat if you wish. Allow each coat to dry between each application and let the final surface dry for at least half an hour when you’ve finished (about the time it takes to give yourself a manicure).
- Lastly, massage well with body lotion again.
Manicure Repeat the process for a pedicure, omitting the pumice stone and filing your nails into a gentle curve. Again, a shorter all-one-length shape is much prettier than varying lengths, so choose a medium length that you can maintain. Make-up or foundation for hands is not usually very satisfactory, except for photography, but there are fading creams to help minimize freckles or brown spots.
Just remember it is always better to wear no colored polish at all than to go around with chipped or peeling finger or toenails.
For a complete step-by-step description of a perfect manicure, See also: How to Take Care of Feet and Hands.