perfect nails  Polish chips are one thing, but we’ve all had those days when we look down at our hands in horror—ragged cuticles, splitting nails­…basically a manicurist’s worst nightmare (ours too). While we don’t recommend letting your nails get to the point of no return, when it looks like all hope is lost just know you turn to these tips to turn things around. The secret to the perfect manicure (whether polished or bare) begins with healthy nails. A little extra TLC will go a long way when your hands come up against chlorine, salt water, and sand in the coming months.
  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. First and foremost, you must lotion up to keep your hands looking young and hydrated. Beauty Fact: your hands are the second place to start to show signs of aging (Number one? You guessed it, your eyes). We apply a layer of lotion with broad-spectrum UV protection to the backs of our hands every morning to keep them protected on our morning commute.
  2. Use cuticle oil everyday. Apply it regularly to prevent tearing, cracking and the dreaded hangnail. Make it convenient so you have no excuse not to use it. We like to keep The Body Shop Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil in our desk drawer. You can also apply a generous coat, slip into a pair of moisturizing gloves overnight, and wake up to soft, supple fingertips.
  3. Always file nails in one direction. Most of us are guilty of ignoring our manicurist’s advice about this, but going after a snag with a back and forth motion is the fastest way to tear a nail. For the perfect manicure, be sure to wear the right nail shape for you. Ideally, your nails should follow the shape of your half moon.
  4. Invest in a good nail strengthener. Wear a coat of Julep Nail Therapy or essie Millionails alone (bare nails can be beautiful too, plus they allow for a little breathing time in between polishes) or as a base coat to put an end to splitting and peeling nails.
  5. When you wear nail polish, always apply a base coat. For healthy, strong nails, make sure you always start your manicure with a base coat to help prevent polish staining. If you do end up with tinted fingertips, try rubbing nails will a lemon wedge or baking soda to remove the color.
How do you take care of your nails? Share your never-fail manicure tips in the comments. Photos: Thinkstock

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