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The Secrets of Perfect Nails
Written by Liberty Craig   

I have a confession to make: I am terrible at doing my nails. It’s just not one of those girly abilities I was blessed with, and I am in constant envy of perfectly polished pinkies. That said, there are other impediments to my sought-after state of manicured bliss. First, while I love getting my toes done and consider a professional pedicure a perfectly allowable indulgence, keeping up with one’s toes can be time-consuming, and it can get pretty expensive over time. Like many women, I just don’t seem to have enough hours in any given day, and there are a great many other demands for my money. How on earth am I supposed to keep up with my beauty routines?

The second problem is that, for some reason, for the life of me, I can’t seem to maintain a manicure for any length of time. Yes, I type for a living – and I’ve been told I’m a rather enthusiastic typist, so perhaps the sheer velocity of my click-clacking shakes that pretty paint away. Yes, I have two young children, which means a great deal of hand washing, plenty of dishes and bathtub time each day. Perhaps it is simply that my manicure can’t withstand the near-constant immersion in water. Or perhaps it’s the abuse at the hands of all the toys and dirt that those adorable little monsters were evidently born with...

Whatever the case, suffice it to say, my manicures don’t last and my pedicures require more maintenance than they get. And since I look as though I’ve allowed my six-year-old to paint my nails (again) when I do it myself, I tend to have unadorned fingers and unattended-to toes. So I decided to consult an expert. Katharine Lam of South Granville Laser and Skin Care Centre has made a career of manicures, pedicures and other esthetic services. To her, the business of caring for hands and feet is a lifestyle, a passion and an art form. She provided me with the following tips that I hope other mani-pedi-challenged Fresh Vancouver readers might appreciate.

LC: How often do I need to refresh my manicures and pedicures?

Katherine: For best results, pedicures should be done every four to six weeks, and manicures ideally once a week. The timing will depend on the individual client, however. Women with callous build-up or corns, bunions or other problems might want to come for pedicures more frequently. It’s not just about looking good; there is a therapeutic element to this as well. The hands and feet need massage to stimulate circulation and help with anti-aging. Reflexology is wonderful for both.

LC: How can I make my manicures last longer?

Katherine: Invest in a good hand cream containing collagen or vitamin E – something rich and sustaining. Apply it at times when you’re not washing your hands, which typically means bedtime. If you don’t like the greasy film of richer lotions, put it on the backs of your hands. Also use a cuticle oil such as avocado, vitamin E or almond oil – even olive oil will work! You don’t need to spend a fortune to take care of yourself. Spend some time massaging your lotions and oils in each night. The heat creates circulation and blood flow. It’s an anti-aging remedy that costs nothing! Be sure to remove manicure polish after one week; otherwise, it can cause brittle nails. Use a remover that is free of acetone and contains a moisturizer.

LC: How should I care for my feet between pedicures?

Katherine: Use a paddle or pumice stone in the shower every day. It doesn’t take long for those calluses to build up again. After a shower, be sure to dry completely between the toes. Moisture can lead to bacteria and pre-fungal symptoms. Calluses and ingrown toenails can be the result of ill-fitting shoes. Take your shoes off at home, but note that walking barefoot can cause the bottoms of your feet to become dry and cracked, and can lead to more calluses. Use a good foot lotion daily, and massage it in.

LC: How can I make it less expensive?

Katherine: By caring for your hands and feet between treatments, you can maintain your manicures and pedicures and stretch the time between treatments. Also take advantage of promotions and specials offered at your spa or salon. Talk to the practitioner about the possibility of purchasing packages as well.

LC: What is the trick to a beautiful mani-pedi?

Katherine: Thoroughness. A good manicure or pedicure is a thorough one, which means treating each client’s particular problems. That might mean longer soaking times, paraffin wax for cracked heels, or a great massage. These are healing, therapeutic treatments – not just cosmetic. They should make you feel better all over: mind, body and spirit.

LC: What do most of us do wrong at home?

Katherine: Over-trimming! Many people trim their toenails too aggressively, which causes ingrown nails. Another problem I see is overzealous use of a heel blade. This can create bad results, as people take off the good skin and not just the calluses. It’s better to use paddles instead.

For more information or to book an appointment, contact Katharine Lam and South Granville Laser and Skin Care Centre at 604-714-4011.

Liberty Craig - Editor

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