Hand, foot, and nail maintenance tips

When we think of self-care, our minds automatically drift towards face masks, exercise, and scented candles. Selfcare, however, should not be a special occasion, but rather a set of habits so ingrained in our daily routine that it becomes essential for our wellbeing. Selfcare doesn’t merely include a sound skincare routine and doing your nails when you get the chance: it means making sure every part of your body is healthy and whole (yes, that includes your brain!). If one of your New Year resolutions was taking better care of yourself, then we’re here to give you some advice on how to do so starting with the body part whose importance you’re most likely to underestimate: your feet.

Feet are possibly one of the hardest-working parts of your body. They take you places and balance your entire body weight while being crammed in your favorite shoes most days (luckily they probably weren’t shoved into too many heels in 2020 thanks to quarantine). Chances are, their hard work goes without any recognition – and they deserve to be treated a lot better than most people do.

Very much like you should do with every part of your body, you need to check your feet daily for cuts, calluses, blisters, or swelling. Scrub them every day when your shower putting some extra attention on the parts between your toes and around your toenail, because that’s where infection generally originates. For the same reason, when you’re applying moisturizer after your shower, avoid getting it between your toes to keep them dry and lower the chances of infection.

If you’re treating yourself to a pedicure, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First of all, if you have dry and cracked heels, you’ll want to avoid soaking or at least keep it as brief as possible. While softening the skin does help get rid of calluses, it also dries out your feet, which might be counterproductive, so do so sparingly, just enough to slough away any calluses and dead skin. When you’re clipping your toenails, make sure you don’t cut them too short, as feet are a lot more prone to ingrown nails than hands. Moreover, to assure your nails do not grow into your skin, file down the corners of your nails once you clipped them: the best nail shape to keep your feet happy is square.

Always dry your feet thoroughly when you’re done with your pedicure and, when you’re in public spaces like a pool, keep your flip-flops on when walking around. Doing this will reduce the risk of contracting warts, fungi, and other bacteria or viruses that we just don’t even want to think about.

Hand care is usually a little bit more pressing to most people, as they are one of the first things we see when we are introduced to someone. Moreover, giving yourself a manicure (and a new set of nails) is a lot less strenuous, doesn’t require as much flexibility, and a lot more pleasant than working on your pedicure.

When it comes to day-to-day routines, taking care of your hands is a lot more intuitive than taking care of your feet. You’re more likely to notice scrapes and cuts a lot earlier, and your hands don’t do stuff like, you know, walk you around. This, however, doesn’t mean that hands are low-maintenance. They are our tools to get in touch with the outside world and carry out most of our daily tasks.

Especially during winter (and due to our now-frequent application of hand sanitizer), hands can get dry and crack in no time. Cracked hands are an easy access point for germs of any kind, so once you get to that point there is not much you can do other than clean your hands regularly (which, yes, stings and dries your hands even further). Still, the whole point of daily hand care is to prevent cracking in your hands. Try to apply moisturizing hand cream at least a couple of times a day, especially if you’re not a fan of gloves. When you’re going outside in the cold, petroleum jelly could be of great assistance: apply it after a good skin hydrator to lock in the moisture and protect your hands from the harsh climate (also great before bed). Unless it’s explicitly stated on the product label, avoid using your hand cream or petroleum jelly on your nails, as they could leave annoying halos on your nail color or simply damage the polish.

Let’s be honest: by now, nail care is the part we are most familiar with. It doesn’t only imply getting some nail color on: it means taking care of your cuticles, paying close attention when buffing your nails or taking off your last manicure, and taking a break if you think your nails need one.

Still, there are a few things that you might not be familiar with that could significantly help improve the health of your nails. By now we all know that most sources suggest not removing your cuticles, as it could leave the sensitive part linking your nails to your fingers without any protection and possibly expose it to infections. Many, however, still continue doing so as it has never given them problems in the past, and in the end, it comes down to every individual’s personal preference. If you’re split between the medical concerns and your own empirical observations, you might want to give a try to cuticle removers: they’re gels developed with the objective of dissolving the dead skin off your cuticles. This means that you won’t have any annoying dead skin in the way, but your nail plate will still be protected from pathogens. Try using the finger rest, while caring for your cuticles to stabilize your finger.

The best thing you can do for your cuticles is using cuticle oil every day! Not only will your cuticles thank you, but it could make your mani last even longer.

Moreover, very much like your feet, your nails might suffer from being soaked for too long. Nails work just like a sponge, and they will expand when soaking for longer than a couple of minutes. For this reason, manis applied before your nails have had the chance to dry completely will not last long. If you can, soak your hands and feet only when it’s absolutely necessary to do so in order to handle your calluses or cuticles.

Unless you have already given up on your 2021 resolutions, try incorporating these small acts of kindness towards yourself in your everyday life. On busy days, this kind of mindfulness could be what keeps you grounded.

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