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Men's Grooming Tips: How to Take Care of your Nails

Why everyone—especially businessmen and fit guys—should consider getting some extra help with their nail care.

Turns out, your man hands could be grossing her out. But, that's not the only reason you should man up and manicure those nails. While you're at it, your feet could probably benefit even more from a little grooming. 

"There's nothing emasculating about grooming your nails—or even getting a manicure or pedicure," says Kally Papantoniou, M.D., a cosmetic, laser, and surgical dermatologist in New York City. "There are loads of men who get their cuticles cut back and nails groomed," she adds. And there are plenty of reasons to join them, aside from aesthetics. 

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WHY FIT MEN NEED TO GROOM THEIR NAILS 

For runners, athletes, and pretty much any active guy, nailcare can be as important as a warmup when it comes to your workout. Yes, your workout. "There's a lot more trauma inside the shoe when you have longer toe nails and calluses that aren't properly taken care of," says Papantoniou. Have you ever seen a runner's feet? Not the prettiest. All the rubbing and jarring movements during long bouts on the road or trail can leave toenails bruised and black. And with enough impact, the nail can even fall off since it takes the majority of the impact when your foot slides inside the shoe. Keeping your nails short can reduce irritation.

Plus, the longer your toe nails and the more you let debris build up under the nail, the greater your chance of suffering infections and ingrown nails grows. Aside from being, well, disgusting. This can deter from your workout and hinder performance due to the simple fact that you're in pain. "It's so much easier and smarter to prevent this all in the first place by maintaining nice short nails and staying groomed," Papantoniou says. 

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING

Again, not to hone in too much on the fact first impressions are everything, but if you're a businessman, grimy paws aren't a great reflection on your professionalism. Your grooming reflects you as a person—your ability to take care of yourself and showcase the fact you have your s%&$ together. 

Remember this: Your hands are always on display. Men and women don't want to shake a claw or stare at filthy fingernails.

Also, hygiene is a huge reason to keep your nails clean, short, and trimmed. If your idea of trimming your nails is gnawing on them, you're exposing yourself to a host of germs and bacteria. Your hands touch everything. Think about how the colonies of germs on public transportation systems are like a germy jungle and the fact not everyone washes their hands after going to the bathroom. If that doesn't skeeve you out enough to stop the terrible habit, keep your nails short so you don't have anything to gnaw on. 

HOW TO GROOM YOUR NAILS YOURSELF

If you'd rather not ever set foot in a nail salon, we feel you. Follow these tips to perfect your at-home nail-grooming skills:

1. Once you're out of the shower, use a pumice stone or other device to gently buff away calluses. "The thick skin on your feet will be softer immediately after a good soak making it easier to exfoliate," Papantoniou says. "This should be done no more than once per week if needed, and shouldn't be painful!" After exfoliating, apply a moisturizer that contains urea or salicylic acid to help prevent dry rough skin and calluses, she adds.
2. Cut. "Trim your nails in a straight line across the top-most part of your nail to help prevent ingrown nails from forming," Papantoniou suggests. "It's okay to trim your nails short, to the point where there's no white of the nail remaining, but you want to make sure you don't trim too much as this can be painful and lead to infection," she explains. Essentially you don't want to clip the nail bed; that's what's considered "too short." 
3. Shape and smooth. Go the extra step and file your nails to make smooth borders; this way you don't have any sharp edges that'll snag on clothing, making it prone to fissures and breaks. "The nail should be trimmed and shaped straight across and not have a rounded or triangular shape," Papantoniou adds. This is the best shape to prevent breaks. "And if your cuticles tend to fray, try applying coconut oil to them after trimming—and avoid biting or picking!—so they can heal faster," she says. 

Sound like a lot of work? Just get a manicure or pedicure at a salon already. After all, you get a free massage and yes, there will probably be a lot of chicks there. But before you book, be picky about where you go. Do your homework! "If you go to any salon where they soak everyone's feet in a communal tub of water, you're probably gonna come home with something," Papantoniou says. "Go to a place that prioritizes cleanliness and uses hygienic standards of care, meaning they sterilize their equipment and use tools that come from a sealed pack," she adds. Tools should be treated with high heat and pressure, not just dunked in solution and reused. 

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MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP

You'll Be Judged for Going.
"It's been proven in research that men aren't that great at taking care of themselves," Papantoniou says. "They're less inclined to go to the doctor, report a problem, take medication, and certainly take proper care of their nails," she adds. You probably also think it's socially frowned upon for a man to go out and get his nails "done." But guess what? You're thinking too much. It's really not a big deal. People who are getting a treatment or service aren't worried about who else is in the room with them. And if your buddies give you flack about it, just brush it off. You'll find most guys would enjoy getting their nails groomed and hands massaged; it's just the idea of getting it done has always put them off from trying. If you're really worried, go with your girlfriend or simply a girl friend and say they "made you go." 

Salons Are Just for Women
Definitive proof this is a myth: Many spas and salons are catering specifically to dudes with male-only services and treatments. Papantoniou adds, to a certain extent you need to be comfortable enough with yourself to be comfortable going into a salon. Because the very word "salon" might make you cringe, as would sitting in a chair getting your nails manicured between two chatty women. "So, if you're not comfortable in a women-centric salon where rose petals and women are surrounding you, check out salons that are more amenable to men," Papantoniou says. Many small and large cities have spas with a more masculine air and offer massages, pedicures, manicures, and waxing in a more neutral setting. "Some barber shops even have a nail station so you can get all your grooming done in one place," Papantoniou adds. 

You Have to Get Polished
This is one of the biggest misconceptions. "You don't need to get polished or buffed," Papantoniou says. It's totally optional for you to get a clear coat of polish. Some guys don't like the look of it, and that's okay. "You can still get your nails trimmed, filed, pared down, and get your calluses and cuticles fixed." 

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