• Clean hands with soap and water.
• Put some fresh flower petals or herb leaves in a bowl of warm water and soak your hands for 10 minutes. Try lavender, calendula, mint, or rosemary. Use a gentle nailbrush and clean under each nail.
• Massage a rich hand cream or natural oil into your hands and cuticles. Gently push back your cuticles with a cotton swab. Never cut your cuticles—they are meant to protect your nail bed. Cutting can damage them and lead to infection.
• File your nails into square ovals, making sure all are the same length, using a paper emery board.
• For extremely dry hands, make a hand mask, using plain yogurt or sour cream with 1 teaspoon of honey mixed into it. Spread the mixture over your hands and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Rinse off the entire mask with warm water, followed by cool water.
• Massage more hand cream or oil into your hands. Work from the base of your palm to your fingertips, one finger at a time.
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty from the Garden (Henry Holt and Company, 2002). For more information, visit her website at www.JaniceCox.com .
Click here for the main article, Body & Soul: Natural Hand and Nail Care for Gardeners .