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The Perfect Man's Manicure

What you'll need

  • Cotton pads (don't use cotton balls, which have too much lint.)
  • Orangewood stick
  • Emery board
  • Warm water in a bowl (you can add scented oils or salt.)
  • Base coat (optional)
  • Ten minutes
  1. Remove any enamel, if you wear it, with a cotton ball saturated with polish remover. Do not use nail clippers, instead file the edge of your nail at a 45° angle. Hold the emery board flat against the edge of your nail.



    File at a 45° angle.

    Tip: File in one direction toward the center. Avoid painful hangnails by not filing too deeply at the sides. Ideally, men's nails should show a semicircle of white nail ¼ inch beyond the fingertip.

    Leading male hand model Leland Schwantes actually prefers a metal file for shaping his nails. "While an emery board works best for women's nails, which are longer than a man's, and therefore you are filing farther away from the skin, I find a metal file (the smooth end) easier and safer", he said.

  2. If you prefer, you can cut your nails with manicuring scissors. While not as precise as filing, cutting is a faster procedure (and the risk of tearing a nail with nail scissors is minimal, as most men have short nails). Just be sure to buy a really good pair of nail scissors. A good one should last a lifetime and really makes this procedure easier and much safer.


    Trim with scissors.

  3. Apply a small amount of cuticle serum, oil or cream to each nail.


    Rub oil into the cuticle.

  4. Soak in dishwashing liquid and warm water for about ten minutes, if possible. This softens the cuticle, loosens any dirt lodged under and around the nail, and removes any little filing particles that might still be on your nails.



    Soak for ten minutes.

  5. Use a soft flat nail brush to scrub your nails as well as the skin on your hands.



    Scrub your nails.

  6. A pumice stone moistened in the warm water can soften rough edges around your fingernails as well as any calluses on your palms and fingers. Pumice also removes most stains that don't respond to regular soap and water or the rubbing of a lemon wedge over the discolored area.



    Use a pumice stone.

    If you need any additional cuticle pushing at the base of the nail, gently use an orange stick or an implement that has a rubber point. Avoid a metal instrument here.



    Use an orange stick.

  7. Dry hands thoroughly and gently push back the cuticle at the base of your nails with a nubby washcloth that you launder regularly.

    If you prefer cuticle remover to the serum or cream (many men do, as it is faster, although a harsher chemical and not my personal choice), apply at this point and gently push back the cuticle with a cotton-wrapped orange stick, as the cuticle rim at the base of the nail is delicate and is there to protect the nail bed. Do not use a metal cuticle pusher.

  8. Cut only hang nails with a cuticle scissors or trimmers, but do not cut the rim that protects the nail bed. Wash off any cuticle remover from the nail, as this is a strong chemical and should not be left on the nails.



    Trim your cuticles.

  9. Clean under the nail with an orange stick, designed for this purpose, or Stim-U-Dent (little wooden sticks used mainly for dental cleaning, which soften when moistened). For stubborn stains or dirt that has remained imbedded under the nail for some time, dip the cotton-wrapped stick or Stim-U-Dent in hydrogen peroxide. Rinse off.

  10. Apply hand cream or lotion at this stage, if desired.

  11. Buff nails to improve circulation and smooth the appearance of the nail's surface. Buff in one direction only to prevent the nail from getting too hot. Special polishing paste, which is like jeweler's polish, is sold in most drug and department stores, and can be used with the buffer to achieve a nice shine.



    Buff for a nice shine.

  12. Some men like to use a coat of colorless enamel. Before applying, at this last stage, remove any traces of cream and/or lotion from the nails.



    If you like, use a clear enamel.

    Tip: I have discovered that you can improve the appearance of men's nails without the high gloss of enamel: Apply a coat of lightly frosted clear enamel or base coat to the nail. Then quickly wipe over the nail surface with a cotton swab. The result is a surprisingly white, clean look that is more natural than clear polish.



    Wipe the clear enamel with a cotton ball.

    Guitarists have to pay more attention to their nails than other musicians. Jose Feliciano carefully shapes his nails with an emery board and smooth sandpaper. He then applies clear polish to the inside of his nails to avoid any harsh tones when his nail strikes nylon strings.

Treatments for nails

If you have soft thin nails (your nails bend easily) or your nails are brittle (your nails break easily), try Linda Rose's Intensive Nail Treatments. These contain liquid collagen which supplements and strengthens your nails.

Photography Credits

Photography by Robert Swenson.

Hands, by Linda Rose

This page
excerpted
from Hands,
by Linda Rose.
Click book
for more.

The biggest mistake people make is forgetting how important our hands are. They are the first things that give away your age (no matter how young your face may look!) and like it or not, they are difficult to disguise or cover up and are always in the spotlight.

-- Linda Rose in Elle.

Linda Rose in Elle

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