A nasty hangnail can make just picking up a pen an uncomfortable experience. Even if you get regular manicures, it seems that once they start, your only choice is to spend the next week with a Band-Aid and a furrowed brow.
What gives? “We always wonder why our hands and cuticles are dry, but it’s because we’re not treating them properly,” says Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist and owner of an eponymous nail polish line.
Follow these surprisingly simple tips for permanently snag-free nails.
“Think about your face: You probably wouldn’t wash your face and not moisturize after,” says Lippmann. Keep a bottle of hand cream on the bathroom sink or your desk and massage into cuticles after you wash your hands. Massaging the nails and cuticles regularly is also good for nail growth, gets blood flowing to the surface for healthy nails, and creates a rosy flush so nails look great with or without polish.
Cuticles act as a barrier for bacteria, so avoid cutting your cuticles. Instead, apply a cuticle-removing cream where your skin meets the nail, and gently push cuticles back with a soft pusher, so you won’t scratch the nail plate. Any remaining lifted pieces of skin are—you guessed it—hangnails. Carefully nip only these dead pieces of skin.
Do a nail soak.
If you’re prone to hangnails, try soaking your fingers in a rich oil like jojoba or coconut oil. Drench the nails in oil to really hydrate them. Then wrap your hands in hot towels (heated in the microwave or soaked in hot water) to lock in moisture. Do this once a week to keep hangnails at bay.