Now that your nails are the shape you want, wipe off the nail dust (ick!) and plunge them into a nice warm bowl of water (pretend you're Madge in that old Palmolive commercial). You can add a bit of scented oil to the water to make your hands even softer. Some manicurists add salt to keep the hands from becoming too pruney. Again, this is one of your many creative nail decisions. Keep your hands in the water for a few minutes, or until they just start to wrinkle. If you want to maintain the warmth of the water, you can poise a little table lamp (one of those gooseneck college numbers would be an excellent tool) over top of it. But don't put the lamp too close burnt skin smells bad.

When you're done soaking, take your hands out of the water and gently dry them on a towel. Now it's time to push back your cuticles. If you have extra tough cuticles (again, ick), then you might want to rub some cuticle oil on them to soften them before you get to work. Take an orange stick and gently push the cuticles back to expose more of the lanula (the round pinkish "moon" shape on your nail and the only visible portion of the matrix). Never ever ever ever cut living tissue from the cuticle. A healthy cuticle will prevent bacteria from entering your body by sealing off the nail root from outside elements. The only reason you have nail scissors on hand is to cut off any dead skin that is still attached and risks pulling away healthy cuticle. Trim these hangnails as closely as possible without damaging living tissue. Push the exposed end back in with the rest of the cuticle. If you keep your cuticles well-maintained and your hands properly moisturized, you shouldn't have trouble with hangnails.

    SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW Give Yourself a Manicure?