Dry skin during the winter isn’t always caused by cold conditions—it can also be a result of your usual routine. Hot water, though soothing, works against skin and nails by stealing moisture. In fact, winter dryness is often caused by the hot showers clients take in colder weather. “I don’t do water manicures at all anymore because I find that water causes nails to split,” shares MJ Sherer, owner of Nails by MJ in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Sherer offers a waterless, skin-nourishing manicure that starts with a cuticle oil application, then continues into a warm lotion soak. Next, she applies cuticle remover and gently pushes back cuticles, energizes skin with a scrub and finishes the pre-polish steps with a cleansing brush.
Sherer isn’t the only tech who finds that waterless manicures are a must in colder weather. Gibbons also provides waterless manicures during which she envelops the client’s hands in warm mitts to help the already applied oil or moisturizer penetrate deeper into skin.
Besides warm water, another seemingly harmless product—soap—causes drying and exacerbates any signs of dehydration on clients’ skin and nails. “You’ll want to use a non-soap cleanser during winter,” recommends Toombs. “Basically, anything that ‘suds up’ is a soap-based product, which can cause dryness.” Opt for a creamy, milky cleanser as an alternative.
In the Heat of the Moment
Once the chilly weather has blown out of town, warm weather paves the way for healthy nails; they tend to be more hydrated due to increased humidity and even grow more quickly in warm weather. For clients with normal or oily skin, summer allows you to put away the thicker creams and use lighter lotions instead.
“For summer, we gradually switch the thick lotion we use in winter to a thinner one, and we encourage clients to continue with cuticle oil application, but twice per day as opposed to three times in the winter,” relates Darlene Donovan, nail technician at Nail Creations at Bamboo Natural Beauty in Londonberry, New Hampshire. “No matter the season, I offer warm towels with a scrub, but this summer I am offering a ‘Cool Cucumber Wrap’ for clients who don’t want the heat.”
Some nail techs make more conservative changes during hot times. In the summer, Sherer’s services remain unchanged, but she skips the warm lotion soak unless the client’s hands are especially dry. Another minor change for the summertime is to end your services with an application of lotion containing sunscreen, as well as a layer of UV-blocking top coat, to protect skin and nails from sun damage.
Despite your best efforts, some clients will struggle with dry skin and nails year-round, so it’s a good idea to examine each client’s hands, feet and nails to determine which products and procedures are most beneficial. “I gear my services around what is right for the individual client,” says Gibbons. “I take extra care to examine the skin, and as I proceed with the service, I mention what I’ve observed and make suggestions.” While seasonal changes can certainly affect your clients’ skin and nails, it’s up to you to prevent some of the problems that detract from the results of your services, allowing your clients’ skin and nails to look picture-perfect year-round.
Tracy Morin is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford, MS.