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The All Natural Manicure
by Peggy Haynes, Lamas Beauty Correspondent

The connection between good looks and good health has never been better understood, and women who want to look their best know they must work at staying healthy. Today, they do more than maintain a stylish wardrobe and keep appointments with their hairdresser and esthetician.

They eat well, take nutritional supplements, and get daily exercise. Yet these same women often neglect their nails. Surprisingly, one of the first things people notice about a woman is the condition of her nails, and nails often reveal how healthy or unhealthy we are.

Linda Rose, in her book Hands (Simon & Schuster, 1980), says "Nails give us an insight into the robustness and sensitivity of a person. They are like windows." She says the shape and condition of the nails also provide clues to personality. Any mark on the nail may mean a person has undergone a serious physical or emotional upheaval. The location of the mark may indicate when the trauma occurred. "It takes six months for a nail to grow out," says Rose, "so if the mark occurs in the middle of the nail, the event took place three months ago."

Rose says nails may also reveal personality traits. Look at the shape of your nail. A narrow nail can indicate a lack of robustness. A broad nail may indicate muscular strength and energy. A frank person has deep or long nails (from cuticle to tip), and if a nail is broad and deep, a person is open and easy to get along with. Very short nails may reveal a critical person, especially if the nails have been bitten short.

Personality characteristics aside, woman today can easily present manicured jewels to the world. To maintain naturally beautiful nails, you don't even need nailcolor. Just give them a simple and natural manicure on a regular basis.

Here's the basics, step by step:

  1. Clean nails with a dab of remover on a cotton ball. Gently file the nails with an emery board. Don't saw. File in one direction toward the center.
  2. Massage a few drops of soothing oil or lotion into nails, gently massaging the lotion well into the nail bed.
  3. Apply natural ingredient-based cuticle cream to the cuticles.
  4. Soak the nails in warm water for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Gently scrub your nails with a small soft brush to remove dead cuticle.
  6. Gently rub a natural pumice stone over the nails and fingertips to remove dead skin and stains.
  7. Thoroughly re- wash your hands in a mild organic soap, cleaning under the nails with a cotton-wrapped cuticle stick.
  8. Dry your hands and, with a natural buffer, buff your nails to remove stains and subtle ridges and achieve a subtle shine.

If your nails need extra care, try doing the following regularly, to get your nails and hands in model condition:

  1. Before bed, soak the nails in a soothing oil. Baby oil is fine. You could also add a few drops of other essential fragrant oils like sweet almond, grapeseed, peppermint, or basil to give the oil a pleasant natural scent.
  2. Massage the oil into your hands, applying the techniques of reflexology to relax, de-tense and soften.
  3. Another idea! Give your hands a "hand mask." Use the same natural products you love in a facial mask. Natural mud masks will invigorate your hands and help increase circulation. Hydrating, replenishing masks will help decrease fine lines and moisturize the hands and nails.
  4. Finally, the warm oil treat: Right before you begin your regular manicure, treat your hands and nails to a 10-minute warm oil soak. Heat olive oil or another soothing, natural oil until comfortably warm. Soak the hands and nails in it for ten minutes. The heat aids absorption of the oil. Wash hands afterwards with a mild soap to remove oil, then manicure as usual.

To keep your nails impeccably groomed between manicures, take a minute every night for a spot-check. Do you need to do a quick buff to bring up the shine again? If you've added nailcolor (check out the ones in your health food store's beauty section!) check for chips, and repair. Or add a clear top coat to prevent chipping. Rough edges? Smooth them away with an emery board before they get worse and cause a break.

And always, lotion, lotion, lotion...to keep cuticles soft and smooth and your hands 24/7 happy, naturally!

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