For decades the status quo on what is deemed as good etiquette has changed in many areas, language (what’s appropriate), drinking (pinky up or down), dress (business attire), etc. What also has been in question are the social norms and when is it considered good manners and when is it over the top, but one that should be considered as “walking the line” is the topic of men’s hands and fingernails. In short, it doesn’t make you more of a man to have dirt under your finger nails, it just makes you unsanitary. So if you gotta’ get it done, and you should, and you still have a problem being the only guy in a local salon full of women, then let us show you how to do them yourself at home and develop a routine so they don’t get too out of hand.
Firstly, it needs to be stated that you need to throw out the notion that this a feminine thing. It’s not, but as women certainly spend a large amount of time on money on their own hands so don’t think they won’t notice yours, in fact, most women are often repulsed by a man with dirty hands, if you don’t believe me, simply ask yourself to put yourself in her shoes and ask “would I want someone with dirty hands touching me”? Also, let me appeal to a different angle, I once was privileged to here well known business consulting professional Patricia Fripp speak and she said something that resonated with me to this day, “don’t lose a deal over something you can control”, for example, a wrinkled suit, not being prepared, and of course bad hygiene. Anything that may take their mind off of what they should be focused on, which is your presentation. Particularly when it comes time to signing documents or checks you wouldn’t want your hands to draw the focus away from finishing business. That always made sense to me, and with that in mind, weather you are trying to make a good impression on the first date or first meeting this argument should appeal to you so here’s how you can keep things clean at home.
First the problem, men’s nails grow faster than women’s. Also, they are larger and thicker. This is how nature sees it appropriate. But the fact that men’s nails grow faster and are larger, means that they also are prone to more bumps and bangs. Add to this the fact that generally men more often have jobs that involve physical labor, which makes their hands and nails dirty, and you will see why washing your hands once a week is not enough if you are to maintain a decent level of personal hygiene. So step one is make sure they’re washed more than once a day, you don’t need super hand sanitizer or heavy perfumes, just regular soap will do, it’s more about consistency. Now to the nails, and it’s not as cumbersome as what you think.
Firstly, here’s what you will need:
Cuticle Pusher (pointy stick)
1. In order to soften the dirt under the nails, and to make the cuticles pliable, soak one hand in the bowl of soapy water, that has been heated to a barely tolerable temperature. A teaspoon of bleach in the bowl will remove any pigment contained in dirt grit or grime that is under your fingernails, and increase the margin of error when you scrape out said crud. even if you miss some, you wont be able to see it. Allow 5-10 minutes to soak, otherwise the skin will not be soft enough to work with.
2. Use the Cuticle pusher to push back the tissue any place where nail meets skin. Take care to not push back too hard, or you will have irritated nail beds that will drive you absolutely batty. While doing so, utilize the opportunity to remove any debris that has accumulated in this area. When complete, inspect the beds. they should look uniform, neat, and slightly rounded. Most Cuticle Pushers have a second tip, used for cleaning under the fingernail. Flip the CP over and utilize this end, but do so CAREFULLY. Being too brazen can damage the skin that keeps your nail firmly attached to your finger (called the ‘quick’, which is the subject of the phrase, “cut me to the quick”…cutting or damaging the quick is painful and lasts for days. Needless to say, this is best avoided.).
3. Next, use the nail trimmers to get rid of excess length. Less is more here, as cutting them too long is easily remedied by merely cutting again or filing, though cutting too short can only be fixed with time, and will hurt until they repair themselves. An easy method for knowing how long they should be is to cut approximately 1/8th of an inch shorter than the end of the fingertip. remember, we will be taking the nails shorter with the emery board in mere minutes, so when in doubt, leave it a little long.
4. Ok, you’re almost done, now grab a hold of your emery board, flip it to the side with the rougher grain and shape your nails as desired. they should look rounded and neat, almost a reflection of the angle of your nail bed. Most men should be familiar with sanding wood, if only from shop class, and the same rules apply. Filing, like sanding, can be overdone. there is a time where one more brush stroke will ruin the painting, and if you feel you can only get your nails to ‘good enough’, then leave it be or the next time you try to scratch your back you’ll be doing so with nubs. When complete, switch to the finer grit and buff out any jagged spots. this fine side is not for removal of length, but rather for touching up what you removed with the tough side.
5. Repeat on other hand, unless you dig the asymmetrical look.
Personally, although I feel that while the act of grooming one’s nails is perfectly natural, it’s tough for me to stay focused and not think about other things I could be doing, so I usually put a game on in the background but not at a moment in the game that I will be focusing more on the screen as I do need to see what I’m doing. I’m never ashamed to be taking care of my nails, but it’s one of those things that’s better to never notice, most people will give little regard for a man who has ‘pretty’ nails, but will recoil in disgust at unkept, long, or dirty nails. I like to keep them done without ever seeming like I put any effort into them. Such is the way of a gentleman.