Men’s Quick and Easy Nail and Hand Care

You want your hands to look good in minutes. Add these grooming tricks to your daily routine.

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 09, 2012

Hands that look like they could rope a steer or lift a heavy bale of hay may be sexy, but dry and cracked skin or ragged fingernails definitely are not.

“Unfortunately, guys don’t spend a lot of time worrying about their hands,” dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, says. “Frankly, a lot of them would look better if they did.”

Luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on hand care. A little bit can go a long way.

Hand Soap or Liquid Cleansers for Men

Soap is the best choice if your hands get very dirty. For really dirty or greasy hands, choose soap with pumice, which makes the bar more abrasive for deeper cleaning.

  • If you have a problem with dry skin, look for a liquid cleanser or moisturizing soap. Don’t waste your money on antibacterial formulas. Soap of any kind is effective at removing most bacteria and viruses.

Be sure to dry your hands thoroughly with a towel after washing. “Water, when it evaporates, removes moisture from the skin,” Jacob says.

Hand Cream or Lotions for Men

After drying your hands, apply a moisturizing cream, lotion, or gel. Creams, which are the thickest form of moisturizer, are best for very dry skin. Lotions are fine for normal skin. Skin toners or gels are best for oily skin. Jacobs says to massage a little moisturizer around the nails and into cuticles to keep them from drying out.

  • If your hands tend to get chapped and irritated, look for a moisturizer with aloe. Studies show that aloe can speed healing of cuts and even burns.
  • Look for a product that contains sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, or spread on a little sunscreen on the back of your hands after you use hand lotion.

The backs of your hands are one of the first places age spots appear. Using sunscreen every day can help prevent age spots.

Nail Brushes for Men

If you work at a job that leaves your hands dirty -- or even if you simply work in the garden on weekends -- you may have a tough time getting the dirt out from under your nails. A small soft-bristled nail brush, available in most drugstores, makes it easy to scrub out dirt and grease.

Nail Nippers for Men

If you use scissors or those little travel clippers that you take on business trips to trim your nails, consider investing in a nail nipper. Sold at most drugstores and beauty supply shops, nail nippers are recommended by dermatologists because the blade is shaped to match the natural curve of your nails, thus reducing the danger of ingrown nails and hangnails. The curved handle makes nippers easy to use.

Keep nails trimmed short and square-shaped with a slightly rounded edge. Remember to work a hand moisturizer into your nails after trimming them to keep them from becoming brittle.

A Pedicure for Manly Toenails

More and more men treat themselves to pedicures. But what sounds like a luxury can turn into trouble.

“Pedicures typically involve pushing back the cuticle. That’s a bad idea since the skin around the nail and the cuticle is meant to form a protective seal,” Tracey Vlahovic, DPM, an associate professor of podiatric medicine at Temple University School of Podiatry, says. “If you decide on having your nails done professionally, tell the pedicurist not to mess with your cuticles. Instead, concentrate on having your nails trimmed.”

Pumice Stones for Calluses

If you do heavy lifting at work or at the gym, you may be prone to calluses. If calluses get bad enough, they can tear and bleed and make a mess of your hands. Wearing work or exercise gloves will help minimize friction and prevent trouble.

If you’ve already got tough or callused patches on your hands, soak your hands for 10 minutes to soften the callused skin. Then use a pumice stone to gently rub off the hard dead skin on the surface of calluses. Use a moisturizing cream or lotion for extra softening.

Show Sources


Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology, Saint Louis University.

Carolyn Jacob, MD, Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.

Tracey Vlahovic, DPM, associate professor of podiatric medicine, Temple University School of Podiatry.

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