With the nail art craze booming, hands are on display big time. With these simple hand and nail care steps, though, it's easy to keep hangnails and cuticle issues from ruining the awesome effect.
1. Use a milky hand wash.
The clearer the cleanser, the more it may dry out your skin. Also avoid soaps that contain the harsh chemical triclosan (often marked "antibacterial") and instead look for naturally antibacterial ingredients such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus.
2. Never put your hands in hot or icy water.
"Hot water makes skin dry by taking away sebum; cold can cause a constriction and then a dilation of capillary vessels, leading to redness," explains manicurist Mie Kitabayashi of Beverly Hills' Chi Nail Bar.
3. Lube up with oils.
Oils are the best way to get moisture into the skin," according to manicurist Kimmie Kyees, who recommends Sally Hansen Dry Chapped Hand Creme, which contains safflower seed oil.
4. Learn proper cuticle care.
"If cuticles are dry and torn, any manicure will look old," says L'Oreal Paris global nail artist Tom Bachik. However, "cutting cuticles can open you up to infection and make them look worse," warns Illamasqua manicurist Fleury Rose. Exfoliate hands with a body scrub, then nip only hangnails that you can wiggle.
Soften other cuticles weekly with Be Natural Cuticle Eliminator , says manicurist Miwa Kobayashi, of L.A.'s Sally Hershberger salon. Then push them back with an orange stick.
5. Moisturize post-sanitizer.
It's a step most of us wouldn't think to do, but it's important: "High amounts of alcohol can dehydrate skin and nails, making polish chip faster," says Sally Hansen manicurist Tracylee. Just wait until the sanitizer has dried.
6. Protect with sunscreen.
Your hands can wrinkle and spot just as fast as your face. Kitabayashi mixes Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion SPF 38, with lotion. "Sunscreen alone can be drying to hands," she says.
To even out spots, Rose likes L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Hand Care SPF 20 ($30, usa.loccitane.com), which contains Bellis perennis (a daisy plant) extract.
7. Try anti-aging face cream.
Bachik uses L'Oreal Paris Revitalift, its retinol improves elasticity—during his clients' manicures. To conquer crepeyness, apply it to the backs of your hands at night.
8. Slather on a mask.
Smooth on CND Almond Illuminating Masque , then place hands in plastic bags and top with a warm towel for five minutes. "Heat helps the mask penetrate," Kyees says.