Over the past year, I've sort of taken a break from getting manicures. It started accidentally when I first moved to Philly from LA and no longer had a go-to salon to stop by whenever my nails were in need of some T.L.C. Once I had found a new location I loved in Philly, they soon underwent a remodel. At some point during the long construction period, I gave up on maintaining my nails with regular appointments. Instead, I began grooming my nails at home—first by getting a travel-size nail kit and ultimately by investing in specific products to keep my nails and hands in tip-top shape.
Eventually, I kicked the habit of getting a fresh manicure every time my polish began to chip and learned to like the look of clean, polish-free nails. Sans corrosive gel nail polishes, the health of my nails visibly improved. My once brittle and weak nails have become gradually stronger and I no longer see the white spots I sometimes used to get. The money saved is a bonus.
In a way, my nails are always "ready" for a particular event or special occasion because they're never chipped and are actually the healthiest they've been in my adult life. Whether you're looking to give your nails a breather or stave off a trip to the salon, the best hand and nail care products can ensure your nails always look 100. Below are some of my favorite products to keep hands healthy, moisturized, and hangnail-free.
As someone prone to dry skin and hangnails, moisturizing is a crucial step to keeping my hands looking civilized without the help of a professional. This luxe hand cream goes on light with its non-greasy formula and is easy to apply throughout the day without worrying about getting anything on your sleeves or greasing up your keyboard. Its subtle vanilla and orange scent is downright delectable—and the orange peel provides a healthful dose of antioxidants.
When my hands are in need of an extra surge of moisture or I'm going to be out in the sun, this cult-favorite hand cream provides a rich moisturizing layer enhanced by SPF 25 sunscreen. Shea butter, avocado, and jojoba oils make this formulation super hydrating, leaving hands soft and subtle while combating harmful UV rays.
Cuticle care might be the most important part of keeping nails looking healthy and beautiful. A hardworking cuticle oil will save you from cracked skin and unsightly hangnails. This all-natural option from Tenoverten is conveniently housed in a rollerball applicator so you can take care of your cuticles in a flash wherever you go. Moisturizing Hemseed and Damask rose oils soften cuticles and condition the skin.
For a more thorough approach to cuticle care, this easy-to-use nail treatment set gives spa results from the comfort of your home. Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann wanted to correct the misconception that cuticles should be cut or trimmed. Her kit includes a step-by-step guide for how to take care of your cuticles in a professional way along with four powerful nail care tools to shape cuticles without damaging delicate nail plates.
This was the very first product I invested in when I stopped getting regular manicures. The cuticle and hangnail nipper is a must if you're skipping the salon. I find that the mini size is still effective for daily use, but especially great for on-the-go care or travel.
Just because you're not going in for a professional treatment doesn't mean you have to skimp at home. When your hands are due for some extra love, a hand mask like this one from Dr. Jart+ is an indulgent way to treat your hands to an extra boost of moisture. This particular offering was inspired by professional salon techniques and warms (and tingles) when you use it. Say hello to super soft, smooth hands after just 20 minutes.
Like with so many things, good nail health starts within. A healthy diet rich in B complex vitamins and calcium can help yield more beautiful nails while supplements can provide a helping hand. Hum Nutrition's Runway Ready formulation can help strengthen nails and keep brittleness at bay—as well as promote hair growth and support glowing skin.
Looking for ways to get stronger, healthier nails? Here are 10 hair, skin, and nail vitamins that actually work.