Our hands are always on display, and we often do not realize that they should be an integral part of our beauty routine or grooming regimen. If you forget them, they can end up ‘giving the game away’ when it comes to your true age or even make you look older than you are.

You can look youthful, trim and healthy but if your hands look like they belong to the Wicked Witch of the West (or Gandalf) then you ain’t fooling anyone!

The ideal is to inherit attractive hands with deep, almond-shaped nails from your parents that never age; but for those of us who missed out, we can still achieve an attractive effect with effort and imagination.

Health affects fingernails, just as it does other parts of the body. If you see deep furrows across the nails, they are often caused by poor nutrition. Poor circulation, too, from diabetes or heart problems, slows down fingernail growth, producing rougher thicker, yellow-tinted nails. However, natural changes due to aging, and damage caused by household cleansers and detergents are the most common cause of dry, brittle nails.

After age 30, nails grow more slowly, and the blood supply to the area under the cuticle where they form, called the nail matrix, decreases. As a result, the matrix gets fewer nutrients, so they become brittle. Using nail enamel to harden and strengthen nails is counter-productive, since it makes them inflexible and prone to chipping and breaking.

It also seals moisture out of nails when they are immersed in water. When you soak your nails, they can absorb three times their water content. Nail polish removers, like acetone, are also bad because they strip away the intercellular adhesives that hold nails together.

If you want to increase the strength and flexibility of your nails and the youthful appearance of your hands at any age, try these tips:

  1. A good diet is important for healthy nails. It should include turkey which is high in protein and benefits the skin and hair as well as the nails thanks to its iron content and potassium. It has less fat than chicken and also contains potassium.Moreover, all the diet tips that keep the skin on your face young will work for your hands too. Antioxidants are key!
  2. Always wear rubber gloves with cotton lining when using household cleansers and detergents.
  3. Women: only use nail polish on special occasions. Polish removers are very harsh, so it is better to try to patch small chips when you do use nail enamel rather than removing all the polish too often. Buff nails with olive oil instead of painting them. They will shine and grow strong.
  4. When you take a bath, soak your nails and then apply a moisturizer to the skin around the nails, as well as to your whole hand.
  5. Wear warm gloves in Winter. The body conserves heat by reducing circulation to the extremities, including the nail matrix.
  6. Moisturize! Whether you’re a man or a woman, moisturizing your hands will help to prevent cracking and blistering now and it will help to protect your skin cells from aging keeping your hands looking youthful as you reach your twilight years. You can even look for a product with a little sunblock to prevent skin from damaging the hands.