Winter is coming on like a freight-train folks. Eat, drink, be merry and watch your nails go to hell in a handcar. Brittle, rough, easily breakable nails don’t have to be another sign of the season. With a little TLC, your precious fingernails can survive intact. By GAylA DRAkE PAUl
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
First and most important is to stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water and hot tea to keep
those nails from drying out from the inside
(and help protect you from cold and flu
germs). For years we’ve been fed the old
eight-glasses-of-water-a-day rule, but that’s
really not a very useful or practical rule at all.
Here’s a much more doable system: drink
around eight ounces of water first thing in
the morning, and then have a drink, just one
or two swallows of water, every hour you’re
awake. If you have a big glass of water with
lunch or dinner (even better lunch and dinner), you’re set.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but the merrier
you make, the more you rob your skin, hair
and nails of moisture. Alcohol is a terrible
dehydrator, so moderation is a big key. If
you do over-indulge, drink about half again
as much water as you usually do for a day
or two. The same goes for over-eating,
especially those heavy holiday meals; drink
a glass of water before you eat, and be sure
to have a glass of water along with whatever
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else you’re drinking. That steaming cup of
pumpkin-flavored cappuccino isn’t doing you
any favors, either. Loaded with fat and sugar
for starters, it’s a diuretic that will steal away
a good deal of that water you’re trying to
remember to drink.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Our nails get beat up bad on a daily basis in
wintertime; between scraping ice and snow
off the car, washing your hands 20 times a
day because you’re stuck in an office with a
bunch of sickies, and being in buildings with
forced-air heat, our nails are almost destined
to crack and splinter like glass.
There is nothing better for fighting off cold
and flu germs than plain old soap and water;
however, frequent washing with hot water
can dry your skin and dramatically weaken
your nails. That’s where the (now ubiquitous)
hand sanitizers come in; instead of washing
every time, substitute the hand sanitizer for
about half those washes to literally save your
skin. They’re available in a dizzying array
of fragrances, dispensers and formulations,
including moisturizing gels, too.
A little moisture and massage can work holiday miracles. Use a heavy-duty hand lotion
at least twice a day, like Neutrogena Deep
Moisture Hand Cream, St. Ives Intensive
Healing Lotion, or Gold Bond Ultimate
Healing Lotion. Then, no less than three
times a week, spend a few minutes rubbing Bag Balm, which is pure lanolin, into
your nails and cuticles. It comes in green tin
boxes—cute and portable or large economy
size—and can be found in most pharmacies,
and even in craft or sewing shops. It’s powerful stuff, and a little dab’ll do ya. The large
tin will probably last at least a couple years.
Within days, you’ll see increased sheen, flexibility and real strength.
If your hands get extremely dry, here’s a
bedtime routine that can help: smear them
up with a good layer of Bag Balm and put
on some cotton gloves; then go to bed. Your
hands will look and feel significantly better in
the morning. Repeat for a couple nights and
your hands will look like you’ve never done a
day of honest work in your life.
Of course, some folks are allergic to lanolin,
which comes from sheep wool. If you aren’t
sure whether it’s safe for you, test a little
patch of skin on the back of your hand to see
if you get any reaction.
File Smart, File Often
Keeping the ends of your nails smooth will
prevent a lot of accidents, like rough nails
catching on a sweater or blanket and getting
torn. Be careful to file smart, though. Get a
quality nail file with multiple textures: rough,