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Nail Down Beautiful Hands for Winter

Cold weather can be a real nail-biter. By midwinter, you may find yourself with cracked cuticles, brittle nails, parched skin and a perfectly good manicure in ruins. Lily Lee, a manicurist for almost 15 years, has seen it all.

“The winter is the worst time for your hands,” says Lily. “People don’t wear gloves and the cold is terrible for your skin. It makes a good nail color go bad, fast.” But there are ways to combat Old Man Winter’s beauty thieving ways. “Get regular manicures,” Lily says. “It makes all the difference.”

It may sound frivolous, but there’s verity in this vanity. The word manicure is rooted in Latin, manus (hand) and cura (care), literally care for the hands. Lack of care, especially in the colder months, can result in unattractive, cracking, sometimes painful skin. WebMD , the online mecca for medical information, chalks all this flakey awfulness up to one thing: “Lack of moisture.”

So how do you get that healing moisture back? Lily recommends massaging an olive oil-based lotion or cream onto your hands, nails and cuticles after every wash and before bedtime. “This softens the skin and prevents cracking.”

Now that your skin is soft and supple again, what do you do about that gorgeous plum-colored nail varnish that’s chipping after two days?

“ Shellac!” Lily exclaims, displaying her own shiny set of nails. “It will last two weeks, no chipping.”

Lily is onto something. Shellac by CND is the latest trend in manicures, popping up on beauty blogs everywhere. One of Glamour magazine’s Beauty Editor’s gave it a test drive last month. “It’s shinier than a regular manicure,” wrote Glamour’s Beth Shapouri . “I’ve had three women stop me and ask me where I got [my nails] done since Wednesday.” Nationwide, moms and beauty mavens alike are giving this new look for nails a double thumbs up.

Shellac isn’t quite a gel or a polish. There’s none of that dusty, labor-intensive filing and buffing that comes with a set of gels. Though it is briefly set with a UV light, it only takes about as much time to complete as a standard manicure. And, after two weeks, it slides off with good old nail polish remover.

“It’s not damaging for your nails at all,” says Lily. “You can cook, clean – anything – and for two weeks, it will look gorgeous.”

The fact that it lasts longer makes it somewhat more expensive, added Lina Monsalve, assistant to Trendsetters Salon of Stamford co-owner Peter Schifo. The other co-owner is Liz Gray.

“Usually a manicure lasts about a week,” said Monsalve, who sings the praises of shellac. “Basically, this is a great product,” she says, “because it’s not damaging to your nails at all. It doesn’t chip or bubble, and there’s no drying involved.” Also, she said, “The shine lasts longer because of the gel.”

Trendsetters Salon is located at 932 Hope St., Stamford.

Find Lily and your winter-wonderful hands at Nails and More, located at 1248 Post Road East, in Westport.

Have you tapped into the Shellac craze? How often do you get manicures? Share your thoughts on hand and nail care here, or email me at

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