medium and smooth. Get two or three and
carry one with you always. Don’t let your nails
get too long or you’ll greatly increase the risk
of breaking them.
Another essential tool is a nail block or buffing block, which also has three textures. I use
one from Seacret. The smooth side is made
with silk, which draws natural oils out of the
nails and leaves you with a very subtle polished look (but not girlie enough to tarnish
your macho image). Weekly filing and buffing
will make your nails grow faster and stronger.
Shaping the nail is a very personal issue.
Some prefer a rounded nail with nothing to
catch the strings, and some prefer more of
a French-style nail, squared off with only the
slightest curve at the end. Use a quality nail
file and block to maintain your shape.
Let’s Take This Show on the Road
Gigging guitarists can easily put all their nail
care tools into a portable package. Be sure to
keep small nail files and clippers in each guitar case that you take with you, and keep a
set of files and blocks just for the road, along
with travel-size versions of hand sanitizer,
lotion and Bag Balm. Make nail care part of
your nightly post-gig routine.
SOME OLD WIVES TALES MIGHT NOT BE
JUST OLD WIVES TALES
Drinking Knox Gelatin dissolved in
hot water to strengthen nails is utterly
unproven, but if you like that sort of
thing, a lot of people say it helps. Follow
Vitamin A is often called “the skin vitamin,” and it may help nourish the nails,
too. Consult your doctor, or at least read
package directions to ensure you’re getting a proper dose, and don’t over-do it.
If one is recommended, two is too many.
Crisco shortening can be used as a hand
cream (among a vast array of other non-culinary uses), “light and flaky” refers to
pie-crust only. If you are sensitive to Bag
Balm or other moisturizers, Crisco makes
a great substitute—especially for the
bedtime “slime-and-glove” routine. Like
the Bag Balm, a little dab’ll do.
Exfoliating your hands (removing dead
skin cells by scrubbing with a gentle
abrasive) with expensive creams and
potions can make your skin and cuticles
healthier, but your wallet may suffer
dehydration in the process. Common
table salt is equally effective, and way
more budget friendly. Wet your hands,
put a little liquid soap in the palm of one
hand, and mix in about a half-teaspoon
of salt. Scrub your hands gently with the
mixture for a little bit, being careful not
to scrub too hard or too long. Saline
rehydrates the body, so in addition to
leaving your hands soft and smooth, it
helps restore the moisture balance. You
probably don’t want to do this every day,
but three times a week should be fine.
You are what you eat. No kidding.
Eating a healthy diet is the best way to
maintain overall wellness. Don’t skimp
on the veggies, and watch the fat and
sugar. If you haven’t already, switch to
cold-pressed virgin olive oil for cooking,
and try to avoid highly processed foods.
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