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Nails and Colors

Just about everyone is going to notice your fingernails, since they're going to look at your hands at one time or another. How your nails look will depend on how healthy and well cared-for they are, so let's start there. We'll assume that if you care about your nails at all, you know to avoid the Number One No-No of Nail Care -- nail-biting -- and go from there.

Otherwise, health nails start with your nail care routine. If you want to have split, cracked nails, go ahead and ignore them, and they'll gladly oblige. If, on the other hand, you want healthy nails, you need to spend about 15-20 minutes a week on them. Not so bad, right? Your nail care program doesn't need to consist of much more than the following steps:

- Stripping off the old nail polish,
- Soaking your nails in warm, soapy water,
- Cleaning the cuticles and nail edges with a piece of orangewood,
- Shaping your nails with an emery board or nail file, and
- Applying your new polish.

Remember to completely remove the old polish, and to use a clear base-coat before you paint on your new color. Also -- and this is very important -- wash your hands thoroughly to remove all traces of the fingernail polish remover, which can dry your hands and nails both, causing your nails to crack or split. Supplement your once-weekly self-manicures with the attentions of a professional manicurist every 4-6 weeks, and your nails should remain perfectly healthy. If they're not, check with a health store for a supply of biotin. This vitamin has been proven to strengthen the keratin in animal claws, though the evidence for its doing the same in human claws is spotty at best. In any case, biotin is harmless, and it never hurts to try.

As far as the actual color you choose for you fabulous fingers, that's entirely up to you. It's a sad fact that not every color looks good on a particular person, so something as minimal (but highly visible) as the color of your fingernails can sabotage your whole look. Now, this may not be a major disaster, but every little bit helps. It's always a good idea to know and understand what looks best on you, from clothing to hair to nail color. Unless you're one of those hardheaded, pragmatic people, you might need a beauty consultant to help you decide whether you're a Summer or an Autumn -- or at least a straight-shooting friend with your best interests in mind.

If you're going for a particular look, where everything either matches or complements everything else, you may have to experiment for a while until you get everything just right. Then too, if you work in an office or some similar conservative environment, you might want a color that doesn't stand out, so bright yellow or purple may not be the right colors, even if they go well with your personal coloring. On the other hand, there may situations in which you want your fingernails to be especially obvious and fetching -- on a romantic date, for instance. On Halloween, of course, orange and black is not merely acceptable, it's practically mandatory. You could alternate fingers, or even have one black-nailed hand, and one orange-nailed hand. Naturally, red and green are perfectly acceptable during the Christmas season.

As with most beauty related items, it may take you quite a while to find a nail lacquer that's both likeable and flattering on you. It's all about experimentation, and if you want to be truly unique -- without going to the trouble of painting little flowers on your nails -- you're going to have to experiment with what's available. For example, have you ever tried layering one color over another? Sometimes the results can be fantastic, if you do it right. Here's another situation in which your professional manicurist can come in handy. It never hurts to ask their advice, since they look at hands all day, and may be familiar with hundreds of different nail polish shades and types. Not only that, if they're doing your hands, they're at least familiar with your general coloring.

Sometimes the right nail color is no color at all. If your hands are otherwise healthy, why not consider occasionally going without colored nail polish? This doesn't mean your fingernails should go naked, since after all, one of the purposes of fingernail polish is to help protect and strengthen your nails. Instead of brushing on purple or orange or pink, you instead simply use a transparent fingernail polish, so that your nails can go au naturel without the risk of physical damage. Most fingernails look rather attractive in their natural colors, and hey -- that leaves you with one less decision to make in your busy week, doesn't it?
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