I live in an extremely dry climate. Seriously, when I head back to the Midwest from my desert dwelling place, I'm nearly smothered by the intense blanket of humidity that engulfs me. It's hard to breath, it's hard to move, it's hard to function.
While I've happily acclimated to the desert climate, there's no denying the havoc it can wreak on my skin, hair, nails and body in general. One place in particular that this dryness manifests is my cuticle beds.
If I don't remain diligent about my nail care, they quickly turn dry, brittle, peely and painful. It is not a pretty sight. As a beauty writer who often takes macro shots of my nails, dry and flaky cuticles are no good. (And yes, I've been called out on my cuticles before.)
To assuage my body's propensity for droughty cuticles, I keep cuticle oil on my dresser, at my desk, and in my purse. I apply frequently and try to keep up with my routine, but one slip up and I feel as though I've gone back to square one.
Recently, though, I've discovered a little trick that has literally transformed my nails and cuticles into the healthiest they've ever been in this dry, dry valley.
The mysterious wonderfix? An electric toothbrush and moisturizer.
The thought came to me while looking up into the blinding light at my six-month dental cleaning. The assistant was finishing things up and asked if I preferred a cinnamon or mint polish (mint, obviously). I asked her what polishing even did, how it differed from regularly brushing, and why it was part of a routine dental cleaning.
After she explained that polishing removes any residual staining and gently smooths the surface, I began thinking about all the other parts of our bodies we polish. We polish our faces, our lips, our teeth, our bodies, even our feet. Why not our fingernails?
After my appointment, I headed straight to the grocery story (OK, I bought a latte first) and picked up an electric toothbrush for the sole purpose of polishing my fingernails.
It's been roughly three weeks since then and I've continued polishing my fingernails on an every-other-day basis without any supplemental moisturizing, aside from hand lotion.
Here's my process:
I apply a teensy bit of a moisturizer on the tip of my toothbrush. I've been using my DIY whipped body butter. I've also tried coconut oil and Vaseline; I really like the body butter, though.
Next I switch the toothbrush on and gently polish every fingernail and surrounding cuticle for five to 10 seconds each.
Afterward, I'm left with some oily fingertips. I let it set for a minute or so and then massage the residual oil into my skin, which soaks up every drop. I like to massage around the cuticles, too, just to make sure that area's getting enough attention.
The best part about this whole ritual is that if I miss a day or so of "nail brushing," my cuticles don't completely fall apart and disintegrate into a heap of scaly, parched flesh.
A couple of final tips:
• Be very gentle. Once every other day is plenty, I've found. Also, don't press too hard. Light pressure is all you need.
• Make sure you clean the toothbrush after every polishing session, which you can do with just a tiny bit of soap and warm water. In the same vein, make sure your hands and nails are clean before you start polishing. Sanitary upkeep for the win!
Let me know if you try it!