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Healthy nails and great-looking hands
July 30, 2013, 2:01 pm

Taking care of your hands and nails is as important as taking care of the skin on your face. Yet your hands often don't get the attention they deserve. By following a few simple steps every day, you can keep them looking and feeling young and supple.

Keep hands moisturized and sun-protected: 
You may have a dedicated routine to keep your face hydrated and protected from the sun, but what about your hands? They need moisture to keep them supple, and they are also at risk for sun damage, which can cause wrinkles and dark spots. It is important to keep them protected every day. Look for a moisturizing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and try to choose one with emollient ingredients like shea butter (which also offers some sun protection) and vitamin E (which has been shown to reduce wrinkles and skin roughness).

Take care of your cuticles:
Just like your hands need to be moisturized, so do your nails. Rub a little into the base and sides of your nails, including the cuticles, the protective barrier between your nails and the skin underneath. 
Moisturizing your nails and cuticles keeps those areas more pliable and less at risk for cracking, tearing and hangnails, which can open the door to skin infections. If your cuticles are very dry and prone to tears, you may want to consider applying nightly cuticle oil to offer an extra dose of moisture.

Wear gloves during chores: Water, especially hot water, can strip your skin of its own natural oils, leaving your hands and nails dry and chapped. Exposure to the chemicals found in some cleaning products can cause contact dermatitis, which is a skin reaction that results in redness, itching and dryness. Wearing a pair of the cotton-lined rubber gloves while you clean helps to minimize your contact with water and chemicals, keeping hands shielded while you work. 

Remove polish: A fresh coat of nail polish adds a pop of color to your hands, but you don't want to leave it on for too long. In addition to unsightly chips, an old coat of polish (especially if you tend to prefer darker shades) can cause discoloration or yellowing and weakening of your nails. Aim to keep polish on for no longer than a week, and remove it with a cotton pad and non-acetone polish remover, which is gentler on nails than a remover with acetone. Once your nails are polish-free, check them for any irregularities, such as white spots, vertical lines or dark streaks.

File your nails: When it comes to the best length for your nails, be smart: nails that are too long are more likely to split or tear, as well as harbor bacteria, while nails that are too short may not adequately protect your fingertips. Aim for nails that are 'just right', with tips that extend two to three millimeters beyond your fingertips 

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