AS A PERSON WHO TYPES and tests hair, face and body stuff all day long, my hands and fingernails take a beating. The constant wiping, washing and sanitizing leave them practically desiccated.
But you don’t have to be a beauty editor to have dehydrated hands. Everybody has fewer oil glands in their hands, and we’re all guilty of occasional unprotected sun exposure –think of where the sun hits when your hands are on the steering wheel — which leads to freckles and brown spots.
With the new fall nail colors just beginning to come out –- we’ll take a look at some beautiful ones shortly; try to contain yourself –- this is the time to prep for colder, dryer weather and get into good habits so your hands and nails will feel great, and your mani always looks amazing.
SPF During the Day
There’s no way to overstate this. My latest obsession — and I’m sorry I love it so much — is La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Hand Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($155, which is why I’m sorry I love it so much). In its defense, I will say a little goes a long way, it smells like heaven and the container is gorgeous. The un-greasy cream delivers instant hydration, firmness, luminosity and works to diminish the appearance of spots. It will spoil you for life.
For a cheaper — but (almost) no less intoxicating experience — go with Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 ($11 – $29.50). That high an SPF in a hand cream is unique and hyper-protective. Plus, you have to love a pump.
Exfoliate Twice a Week, Moisturize
Like the rest of your body, your hands won’t fully absorb moisturizer sans exfoliation. Do it at night with lukewarm water, and then bombard your hands and cuticles while they’re still damp with a heavy-duty cream or oil.
Kat Burki Raw Beauty Raw Sugar Body Scrub ($48) is a sugary, super-grainy, super-oily (in a good way) scrub that literally lightens the color of your hands by sloughing off the dead top skin layer and turns them baby soft, with a welcome residue of sunflower, coconut, kukui nut and macadamia oils. What a concept: Exfoliating and moisturizing at the same time.
L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($12-$28). The company says a tube is sold every three seconds around the world, and you can see why. This quickly comforting cult cream is rich but not greasy. When you massage it in, you can feel your hands thanking you. (The box also contains an elegant silver tube squeezer so you don’t miss a single blob.) Keep a tube everywhere.
Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream for Nails ($26) is legendary for its overnight results. The exceptionally thick cream with argan, camellia and apricot oils requires a dab, and I mean a dab, on each nail. Work it into cuticles, too, and awake to softened, barely-there cuticles and supple, strengthened nails with reduced ridges. Even used nightly, this cream should last well past the next presidential election.
If a dropper’s easier, use Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil Hydrating Cuticle Treatment ($20). A tiny drop of this un-oily oil virtually disappears into cuticles, leaving them much, much happier than they were before.
In between manis, use the proper tools to care for your nails:
Cuticles Be Gone — Carefully
When cuticles are hydrated, you’ll trim less and push back more. Trim only what hangs over the nail bed.
Nothing beats Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover ($20) for instant gratification. Brush it on cuticles and say adios. For pushing, I only use Tweezerman Manicure/Pedicure Sticks ($5 for 10 sticks), whose rounded and flat ends simplify life. Made of birch wood, these are high-quality and long-lasting. For stubborn hangnails, you want Tweezerman Rockhard Cuticle Nipper ($25). Stainless steel, ¼-inch jaw, very precise.
Remember to rinse your hands in warm water afterward.
The most modern nail tip shape is somewhere between a square and an oval, hence a “squoval.” File your nails in one direction to prevent damage such as chipping, tearing and cracking. Use a 180 grit or higher file; lower numbers are too coarse and can damage nails. If you need to cut your nails first, use a solid scissor meant for that purpose.
Once again, we turn to all-Tweezerman all the time: Stainless Steel Nail Scissors ($20), Premium Emery Board ($5 for a pack of five), Eco Friendly File ($3.50) and Filemate ($5; comes with its own hard plastic carrying case).
Buff your nails to smooth out ridges and get top coat-worthy shine with Deborah Lippman Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer ($12). Follow the numbers sequentially.
For all nails
You’ll be so impressed with these three prods, you’ll never want anything else.
Base coat: Chanel Protective Base Coat ($26). Priming your canvas was never better.
Chanel Extreme Shine Nail Lacquer ($26). So shiny it’ll hurt your eyes.
Zoya Remove + Big Flipper 3-in-1 formula Polish Remover • Nail Cleaner • Nail Conditioner ($9.99). Gently removes even the clingiest polish.
The Fun Part
Fall officially starts in less than a week. Colorwise, there’s no single dominant trend. I’ve seen every color, design and texture you can think of. So far, these are my faves:
Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in 625 Secret ($27). A more mysterious nude than a ballerina pink, with a beigey-peachy undertone. Nicely named.
Chanel Le Vernis Nail Color in 631 Orage ($27). Orage means storm in French, and this enigmatic, deep charcoal gray is positively poetique.
Zoya Entice Collection Sampler ($54 for a set of six colors). Ranging from creamy milk chocolate brown Nyssa, to deep drunken red wine Veronica, to classic indigo Ryan — you’ll want more fingers. Sure, you can buy them individually for $9. But why?
Zoya Ignite Collection Sampler ($54 for a set of six colors). Bring on the shimmer! India’s a ruby red with gold liquid metallic, Sansa’s an eggplant purple with gold metallic sparkle, and Remy’s a dark sapphire with copper and gold liquid metallic. They’re all killers. Just surrender yourself already.
Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition Painting the Town for 15 Years 15-piece Mini Nail Color Set ($19.99 for 15 colors). For her 15th anniversary in the biz, accessible beauty queen Sonia Kashuk has created a hopelessly adorable box of satin-finish paints, named numerically, to complement any outfit, mood or occasion of the hopelessly hoarding. Pinks, reds, jewel tones. Whose nails could ask for anything more?
Giorgio Armani Nail Lacquer in Acid Velvet 724 ($20). Autumnal and chic, this deep khaki sage dries down to a matte glint.
NARS Iconic Color Nail Polish in Ecume ($20). Ice-white nails have become a thing for fall and winter, and this new one is the best one.
Christian Louboutin Beauté Nail Colour ($50). The French creator of the signature red-soled stiletto has created a fabulous rainbow of nail polishes with silver five-inch stiletto caps. Impractical, outrageous and utterly beautiful. From nudes to noirs to “pops” of classic red, aquamarine and chartreuse, they embody the phrase NOTICE MOI.
Gigi Anders is a frequent contributor to MyLittleBird.