You know the saying your hands show your age! No more so than in winter when dry skin and flaky nails can be a tell-tale sign of not enough TLC. I’m afraid I’m imperfect here, gals. My nails can be tatty and, somehow, however healthy my diet is, they seem to break and split. They also, for some inexplicable reason, always seem to be dirty and give the appearance that I’ve just been gardening – it’s not a good look but I’m laying my cards on the table. Confessions notwithstanding, of course I must tell you that your nails are a mirror of what’s going on within, but also need regular tender loving care and sometimes a gal especially for the party season just needs some BLING! Enter into the frame some suggestions for natural TLC followed by a dose of Ellisons and their excellent range of nail art kits and if you are feeling inclined they offer training so you can learn your craft.
Firstly though back to basics, before we adorn our nails let’s look at some basic hand and nail care and of course I’d say make it as natural as possible. In order to preserve our hands, gloves are one answer, personally though I hate wearing them for cleaning (you just can’t feel the corners), but I’m becoming used to the necessity, and for nails I believe that, rather like facial oils, nail oils are the way forward. If you shape and buff your nails regularly and use a tiny drop of nail oil, that will help them tremendously.
Treat yourself to regular hand massages. You can do your own using 100 per cent natural creams. My favourite natural moisturiser is coconut oil, you can slather it on and wear gloves overnight. The next day your hands will be soft and silky. You could also try Silica food supplements for nails skin and hair from www.planethealth.com.au.
There is definitely a trend towards DIY, not furniture making or sewing necessarily (though that’s popular) but creating your own skincare. Its easy and feels so rewarding to create your own personalized, handmade, natural skincare and hand and nail care – and no, I don’t mean toiling over a double boiler for hours. My recipes are quick and easy and cost next to nothing. You’ll find most of the ingredients you need already in your kitchen cupboard. A few to get you started include:
Oatmeal – It’s healing and soothing for sensitive skin. You can grind it to make it finer.
Cornflour – Good for oily skin
Ground almonds – Gently exfoliating while providing oils for the skin
Sugar and salt – Any type but coarse is best, opt for Himalayan salt or Dead Sea salt, great to add to olive oil to make a scrub or exfoliant
Used coffee grounds – Antibacterial, exfoliating and stimulating (great for cellulite)
What’s out and about in your garden (or in a nearby meadow!) is also great to add to your beauty regime and your hand care recipes, try some Dried marigold flowers, dandelion leaves, sprigs of lavender and fresh herbs such as parsley and rosemary can all be used.
Moisten the dried ingredients with:
Cacao butter – it will need to be melted before use.
Olive oil – Soothing, moisturizing and contains anti-oxidants which help protect the skin from the effects of ageing. You can use it for both cleansing and moisturizing.
Other lighter oils are great to use as a base for aromatherapy massage oils, facial oils and scrubs. Try Sweet almond oil, jojoba, carrot oil, avocado oil or wheatgerm oil.
Essential oils, Choose from geranium, rose, lemon or tea tree oil, to name just a few of my favourites. Citrus oils – Lime juice, lemon juice and orange juice will add an astringent to your mix, which is great for oily skins and will give added vitamin C.
Honey is great because it’s antibacterial, soothing and healing. If you can afford it, manuka honey is incredibly effective at treating minor wounds. For more information try googling ‘apitherapy’ – you’ll be amazed at its uses.
Floral waters – Lavender water is excellent. Pure rosewater makes a wonderful toner. Worth sourcing from aromatherapy suppliers because some floral waters sold in pharmacies contain artificial ingredients.
Live yoghurt – Contains lactic acid and is very cooling and adds a creamy quality to homemade cleansers. You can also use milk.
Cucumber – Peeled and puréed, this is very cooling and good as a toner. Also, cucumber slices help revive tired skin and eyes.
Aloe vera gel or juice Very useful. Of course you can snip the juice from an aloe vera plant, too – perfect for healing wounds or minor burns.
Avocado – Rich in antioxidants and good for dry skin. Any fruits are good, of course. Mashed bananas always feel soothing and you can use grated lemon and orange peel, too.
Fruit juices – Fresh apple juice is great for exfoliating. Tomato juice is rich in antioxidants. In fact, any freshly extracted juice is fantastic and, as already mentioned, you can use the pulp from fresh juices to concoct a great face mask.
Beeswax – This is also worth getting hold of; you can melt it easily and use for lipbalms or rich hand creams. You can buy beeswax from local beekeepers or at farmers’ markets
Coconut oil – It has so many uses, but remember it solidifies in cold temperatures. It’s fair to say I’m a huge fan of coconut oil particularly – it has so many benefits, both for nutrition and for skincare. It’s a great oil to use for frying as it doesn’t degrade at high temperatures. I keep a jar by the cooker – and another by the bath, as it’s also one of the cheapest and best moisturizers you’ll find. It heals, moisturizes and protects all skin types. I highly recommend Tiana Fair trade organics, high quality and fairly traded, if you haven’t used it before it might surprise you that coconut oil solidifies in cold temperatures, but just put blob of it on the palm of your hand it will turn to oil and you can use it as you would any other body and hand oil. You can also put a spoonful straight into your bathwater which makes it soft and silky and means you need to use less after bathing.
It’s wonderfully nourishing for hands and feet and, so long as a night of passion isn’t on the cards(!), last thing at night smother your hands and feet in it, put on cotton gloves/socks, and in the morning you’ll feel the difference. One jar lasts for ages. www.tiana-coconut.com
Some simple DIY recipes
Hand and Nail Care
It’s simple to make your own hand cream or oil. Of course a rich barrier cream will require lanolin, beeswax or even glycerine, but if you want to keep it really simple it’s back to the good old coconut oil! You can add essential oils to give it some fragrance.
Pampering Hand Oil
10 ml avocado oil
10 drops carrot oil
10 drops jojoba oil
1 vitamin E capsule
Blend the oils together then add a few drops of your favourite essential oils. You could use 2 drops of lemon, 2 drops of lavender and 5 drops of rose, or try geranium. It’s not an exact science – enjoy blending! Massage a tiny amount into your hands and they’ll feel really soft.
Essential oil Nail Strengthening Blend
(to stimulate nail growth and help to strengthen them)
2 teaspoons avocado oil
5 drops jojoba oil
5 drops lemon oil
5 drops rosemary
Massage into fingernails or toenails.
Enhance Nail Growth blend
100 ml sweet almond oil
20 drops lemon or grapefruit essential oil
Massage into nails to get the circulation going.
Once you’ve cared for your hands and nails its time for the bling then, check out the wide range of wholesale nail art supplies with a wide variety of glitters, beads, foils and crystals from a host of established brands at Ellisons who sell all the essential nail art supplies you need, I love the fact that you can add instant (albeit imperfectly natural) glamour to your nails with nail crystals, even Swarovski, there are crystals in all shapes and sizes.
You can’t get more funky than choosing wild colours (or even opting for the natural look) and then applying a kooky sparkly crystal … gorgeous
Check out the great nail art kits and the fact sheet on the nail art AW beauty trends