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Short is 'in' in nail etiquette

By Al Varela

Dear Al: I'm confused by the colors and lengths of nails in style today. What is in fashion and how do I maintain the color so that my polish stays on longer?

Nine-inch nails should be the name of a rock group and not the description of your nails. Today, nail styles should be short and well groomed. Color may vary from day wear to evening wear.

To maintain good nails, remember that diet plays an important role in nail condition. Eating foods containing vitamins A, E and B-complex that are also rich in minerals, calcium, zinc and magnesium is vital to keeping nails in top condition.

Simple tasks, such as filing your nails after a bath or shower, are important because the nails are more pliable and less prone to breaking. Keeping the sides of the nails rounded and opting for square tops will hold your polish better. If you have to remove the nail polish, massage a drop of oil or moisturizer onto the cuticles. This keeps the cuticles from drying out and keeps the remover from staining the polish into the nails.

When trying to choose nail polish colors, there are a few lessons to learn. Sheer colors are the most user friendly and make imperfections less noticeable. Take your skin tone into consideration and use a color that will give you the best contrast to your skin tone.

Some colors have the effect of increasing either yellow tones or pink tones on the hands. One important caution: as you get older, avoid pale colors and natural shades, because these colors can have an aging effect on the hands.

Use a base coat before you apply the polish. This base coat creates a tacky finish when dry, making a perfect fixative for your polish. These base coats also will keep dark, deep colors of polish from staining the nail plate. Use what experts call the three-stroke method. First paint the center of the nail and then apply the polish to the outer sides of the nail. Always use a thin coat of polish that can be reapplied rather than one heavy application. A top coat is necessary to maintain color and to prevent polish from chipping. Remember to apply this coat daily to ensure its effectiveness.

Nail polishes and top coats are available today with sun-protection factors. This extra ingredient helps stop colors from fading due to increased sun exposure during the summer.

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