The skin on your hands is one of the very first areas to show signs of aging. Think dark spots, lack of moisture, and loose, crepey skin. And yet, so many of us don't show our hands the love they deserve! Sure, you may get a monthly manicure or two to freshen up your nails and sport an eye-catching polish, but you likely don't treat the area with high-powered actives.
Well, you 100% should, according to esthetician and manicurist Jocelyn Petroni. In fact, the Australian-based pro often incorporates hand and nail care into her top-tier skin care services—ever heard of a nail facial?
Put simply, "A nail facial involves conditioning and strengthening the nail plate, with the finishing look of a glossy manicure," explains Petroni. "The hands reflect our age, so we need them looking smooth and revitalized."
Just in case you don't find yourself Down Under to book a treatment, Petroni shares her must-have tips to create a stellar nail facial at home. Clippers at the ready…
1. Cleanse & Shape
Like any professional facial, it always starts with a good cleanse. A clean canvas is necessary for all that follows, no? The same logic applies to those nail beds. "Start by washing your hands with an antibacterial, moisturizing hand wash," Petroni advises. "Look for coconut oil or aloe vera."
In addition to those hydrating actives, you'll want to find a wash that relies on gentle surfactants that won't wreak havoc on your skin barrier.
While your nails are still soft and soapy from the cleanse, Petroni likes to gently push back the cuticles using a wooden stick. Pushing back the cuticles gives you more surface area to work with (it also helps your polish last longer!).
Next, "Trim and file your nails to an even shape that complements your hands, reflecting the natural shape of your base cuticle line," Petroni explains. You can technically fashion any nail shape you please, but a good rule of thumb is to match the outline of your cuticles. That way, you likely won't have to do any harsh filing to achieve a certain look.
Yes, you need to exfoliate your nail plate. While you can opt for a chemical exfoliating serum or physical nail scrub, Petroni prefers to use a simple, soft buffer (considering you likely already have one in your at-home mani arsenal).
"Gently buff the surface of the nail plate," she explains. "This exfoliates the dead and discolored cells from the nail plate and will aid product penetration." Just make sure not to over-buff, here, or you may actually thin the nail plate, she says.
3. Massage & Treat
The massage portion is the best part of any facial, IMO. Just like an esthetician might knead in your moisturizer, choose a high-quality cuticle oil and hand cream to rub into your nail beds and hands.
"Invest in a quality hand cream that works more like an active face serum for visible results," says Petroni. Hydration and skin barrier support are nonnegotiable, but a superb hand cream will also contain ingredients that can address specific skin concerns like wrinkles, dark spots, and crepiness.
Follow Petroni's lead and snag the versatile Ultraceuticals Ultra Moisturiser Cream. With vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides, it plumps your skin with hydration and fights the effects of UV damage. Use it on your face and neck, too, for your at-home facials.
Once your cream dries down, you'll want to follow up with SPF—after all, no facial is complete without sun protection. Petroni trusts the Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protective Daily Mineral Defence SPF50+, which also boasts niacinamide for some extra skin hydration. Again, your hands are often the first to experience signs of UV damage and skin aging, so it's imperative you protect those paws. Don't be shy about reapplication, either!
And there you have it: a professional-grade nail facial you can easily replicate at home. Feel free to treat your tips once a week or whenever they need some extra TLC.
Written by Jamie Schneider for MindBodyGreen.