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Winter nail care

Make sure your client’s nails are prepared to withstand the cold dry winter months

Remember to moisturize

Anyone who has suffered through a cold Canadian winter will tell you that the dry winter weather can wreak havoc the skin. That means the skin around the nails and cuticles can become dry and inflamed as well.  Make sure the nail technicians at your spa have moisturizers on hand. Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology recommends moisturizers that contain ceramides, something that is lacking in dry and eczema-prone skin. “It’s something we naturally have in our skin and it helps to strengthen the skin barrier,” says Carroll. Before applying a moisturizer though, it’s a good idea to use an exfoliant to prepare the skin, says Juanette van Staden, spa manager at Ancient Cedar Spa.

Tough as nails

The dry weather can also affect nails themselves, causing them to become pitted or striated – marked with lines and ridges – and brittle. Advise your clients to wash their hands frequently, even during dry seasons. To retain moisture, they should opt for soap and warm (not hot) water when possible, and only use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as a backup. Carroll recommends using nail polishes that contain nylon or rayon fibers and water soluble nail lacquers like Veralac to strengthen and smooth nails that are rough in texture. Kent Nguyen, a nail technician at La Lotus Nails Spa in Vancouver, also recommends applying cuticle oil daily that contains Vitamins A and E. “By constantly applying cuticle oils and hand creams and things like that, that will eliminate the problem of dry skin and dry nails,” says Nguyen.

Looking good

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with nails. When doing manicures, be mindful that nail polishes that contain formaldehyde, while they last longer, are drying to the nails. Nail technicians can make sure manicures last longer by properly preparing the nail bed, and applying a base and top coat, says van Staden. “Be sure to bring [the polish] all around the tip of the nail as well,” she adds. Manicurists can support the health of their clients’ nails by buffing them in the direction they grow, rather than across, says van Staden. As an extra treat, clients can get a paraffin wax treatment and a hand or foot mask for extra moisture, van Staden says. Make sure to encourage clients who get a shellac or gel nail polish to have it removed by a professional, says Carroll.

Updated January 2023

Hermione Wilson

Hermione has a background in lifestyle and entertainment journalism. After graduating from Humber College’s journalism program, where she wrote for the school’s newspaper and various magazines, Hermione interned at TV Guide Canada, writing television reviews, and at Canadian Living, where she sampled goodies from the Test Kitchen.

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