How to groom your hands and feet to perfection

Good grooming starts with good-looking hands and feet. Make sure you take care of yours.

08 September 2011
by Leigh van den Berg

As the weather starts warming up, we can't hide our hands and feet in gloves and boots anymore. Fortunately it's very easy to give them an express makeover at home. All you need are the right tools and a little mani-pedi know-how.

Happy hands

Start by washing your hands with an antibacterial hand soap. If you push back your cuticles while they're dirty, you could inflame them or cause a nasty nail infection. Once your hands are dry, apply a little cuticle remover to each cuticle. It needs to be left on for a few minutes so that its exfoliating enzymes soften your skin, making the rough cuticles easier to remove. While you wait for it to get to work, use your nail clipper to clip your nails carefully to the desired length. If you find some of the edges look or feel a little sharp, you can use an emery board to file them into shape.

You don't want any ragged edges as these can catch on things and lead to a torn, ripped nail.Once your cuticles are nice and soft, gently push them back using a cuticle stick. Just be sure to do this carefully because if you're too rough, you can damage your skin or end up with a painful, inflamed cuticle. Next, get busy with your buffer. Most feature two different surfaces: a fine grain to help you remove ridges on the surface of your nail bed and a chamois to add a bit of shine.

Start by using the ridge remover in a backandforth motion across your nail beds to smooth them out. (Don't try and do this with your nail file: its grain is far too rough and you'll end up damaging the surface of your nail). When you're done, use the leathery side to buff the surface of each nail gently. This will create a healthylooking shine. To finish up your mani, moisturise your hands using a nongreasy, antioxidantrich hand cream.

A treat for feet

If you have any rough skin on your heels or toes, you can slough this off with a little help from a foot file or pumice stone. It's generally best to buff dry feet as you'll remove more dead skin, much the same way that sandpaper works best on dry wood. Next, use your nail clippers to clip across each toenail. As your feet are larger than your hands, you might need to use a slightly bigger nail clipper. To deal with those cuticles, simply use the same tools and method you used to take care of those on your hands. If you've got any dry patches or cracked heels, use a nourishing heel balm. Look out for ingredients such as lanolin and vitamin E for extra softness.

The most common nails issues and how to treat them

White spots
Contrary to popular myth, white spots on the nail bed aren’t caused by a calcium deficiency. Instead, these spots which are called 'leukonychia' and are usually caused by some trauma to the base of your nails and only show up around six weeks after the injury. The only way to remove them is to grow them out, which can take up to eight months.

Vertical ridges on the nail bed are genetic. Unfortunately, they tend to appear later in life and worsen with age. The best way to improve their appearance is simply to buff them away.

Brittle nails
Sometimes dry, brittle nails can indicate a health condition like iron deficiency, but generally they're the result of hands that aren't getting enough moisture. Try treating them nightly with castor, coconut or apricot oil, all of these are able to penetrate deep into your nail. Alternatively, invest in a deeply moisturising hand and nail treatment.