Quit making these manicure mistakes that are ruining your nails (and hands)

Are you guilty of these shockingly common beauty boo-boos?

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So you've bitten the bullet and splashed out on a snazzy new mani. What next? Time for some talon management, so to speak. Here's how to keep your paws in perfect condition.

Sunscreen is of the essence (it ALWAYS boils down to sunscreen).

If you're a gelish sorta girl, start stashing a tube of sunscreen in your tote, stat. Here's why: The "curing" process under a dermis-damaging UV lamp may shave minutes off your mani, but it's also adding years to your fingers — you're basically shoving them into a mini sun-bed of sorts. And really, you don't want to pay for your vanity with (touch wood) cancer decades down the road. 

The solution? Yep, be sun-safe by lubing up prior to your appointment with a high-SPF lotion, and reapply liberally every two hours or so. There are a ton of options out there in varying consistencies and formats (sunsprays are superb for the sticky-adverse), so there's really no excuse. And this ace bit of advice applies to anyone and everyone. Being positively slavish with slathering on sunscreen is the single best thing you can do for your skin. 

Don't hack up your hands. 

Yeah, it's a compulsive tic that can be hard to control when you're under duress, but please don't chew your cuticles — or worse, don't cut 'em off. Those sheathes of skin exists for a purpose: They act as a shield of sorts against germs, grime and other nasty external aggressors from penetrating and possibly infecting the bed of your nails. 

Always go to a professional to trim 'em down and invest in "orange sticks" (available at just about any drugstore) to gently push the cuticles back. As for daily DIY maintenance, it behooves me to remind you to be scrupulous about sterilising your stuff. Dunking your tools in hot soapy water after each clipping is good practice; cleanliness is, after all, next to godliness (if not gorgeousness). 


Don't peel back the past. 

By the same token, resist the temptation to pick at your acrylic nails when they start to show signs of wear and tear — you may well rip off your entire nail-bed in the process.  There's no two ways about it, really: Suck it up and cough out the cash to get 'em removed safely by a professional. (No one said manicure maintenance was going to be easy.)

Be sure to drench your digits daily. 

Hydrating your hands with a comforting cream will forestall the formation of painful "hangnails". Do it often enough (massaging it in makes for a really relaxing ritual at night, for instance) and you prolly won't mind the moisture so much — I for one feel incredibly naked without water-boosting "gloves" on my fingers.

Hand sanitisers, on the other hand, are horrible.

Here's why: Most brands come laden with ageing alcohol, and will strip away the precious natural oils that serve as an emollient against the elements. If you're a hygiene freak (no judgment), consider decanting pH-balanced shower gels into tiny tubes for use at your office cubicle. Sure, you'll need to splash off with water at the sink, but you won't dry out like a prune in the long run. (Dryness = an aged appearance; trust me on this. I interact with many, shall we say, women of a certain age on the daily, and skin that looks happily hydrated is skin that looks youthful.)  

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