Well-groomed natural nails are a thing of beauty. See for yourself:
Of course, nails like those don’t just happen. Read on to find out which tools you need, and how to use them.
Scissors and clippers
These two tools come standard in most manicure sets… and are a subject of heated controversy. Some people stick to nail scissors. Others swear by nail clippers. Then there is a group that insist that scissors are for fingernails and clippers for toenails.
Wherever you stand on the debate, only use sharp scissors and clippers made of high quality steel. Cut your nails after a bath or shower, when they are soft, and don’t cut into the sides. Also, don’t trim them too short. Leave a white crescent on each nail, because this extra length protects your nail beds and looks pretty.
Always file your nails after trimming them. Use a smooth, fine nail file, moving it in one direction only. Don’t saw back and forth. File your nails when they are completely dry and aim to create a crescent with a slightly flattened top.
Tools for cleaning nails
The spoon-edged nail cleaning tool is needed to clear debris that accumulates under the nails. Just swipe the tool under the nail, taking care not to damage the section where the finger meets the nail. Another very handy implement is the nail brush. Use it in combination with warm water and soap to leave your nails squeaky clean.
Tools for cuticles
Orange wood sticks and cuticle pushers serve to push back the cuticles and remove the thin, invisible layer of dead skin that can cover the whole nail. First apply a cuticle cream or cuticle remover on dry nails and then gently push the cuticle back with the orange wood stick or cuticle pusher. Start from the tip of the nail, work your way down and stop when you reach the ridge of skin that surrounds the base of the nail. This ridge is commonly referred to as cuticle, but the correct term is eponychium.
If you are not naturally blessed with those pretty “moons” that sit at the base of nails (many people have them only on their thumbs and perhaps index fingers), pushing back the eponychium gently every few days may help, but don’t overdo it! And if your nails do have “moons”, be extra gentle when pushing back the cuticles, because “moons” are more delicate than the rest of the nail plate.
Since eponychium is a living tissue that protects your nails and fingers from infection, never go under it with your tools and never, ever trim it.
However, you should still have a cuticle clipper in you nail tool kit, to snip off a hangnail or lifted skin that catches on your hair or clothes.
Buffing is the process of polishing your fingernails until they are smooth and shiny. Use a nail buffer on dry nails and in moderation, because too much buffing can thin out and weaken your nails.
Caring for your nail tools
The first rule of nail tools hygiene is: never share. Don’t even share one and the same tool between your own fingernails and your toenails. Have separate implements for feet and hands and wash them regularly. If you use orange wood sticks, replace them often. Same rule applies to nail buffers.
Lastly, always buy good quality nail tools. They cost more, but they will last longer and be much kinder to your nails.