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The Man-icure

Make your mitts look handshake worthy

The Man-icure
Danielle de Wolfe
04 August 2011

Q: I’ve bitten my nails since I was a kid and I’ve had a hard time kicking the habit. I’ve managed to curb the craving for cuticles during office hours but my fingers still look like they’ve been through a shredder. What can I do to repair them?

Ben, Portsmouth

Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:

A: In fussing over our faces – our primary tool of expression – other important bits like hands often get overlooked. And the truth is you can tell an awful lot about a man by the state of his mitts.

As you’ve found out, articulatory gestures like hand movements draw a lot of attention in the workplace too. Not only that, a potential client or work colleagues’ hand is the first thing you’ll be presented with when you walk into a room - that handshake will instantly establish which of you is the alpha male. Alpha males, you may have noticed, do not have grubby hands. They don’t wear suits worth thousands of pounds and have a nice watch but walk around with hands like a gravedigger’s.

For all these reasons, and many more, it’s worth heeding the advice of master manicurist Leighton Denny. “There is no set rule, but trimming nails at least once a week will get you into a good routine and help to keep them healthy,” he says. “Ideally, you should trim with clippers as they are designed for shorter nails. Try to keep them all one length, leaving about 1-2mm of white tip showing. You can use your fingertip as a guide.”

Rather than butcher your nails with clippers, go about the job using soft angles. “Imagine the shape of a 50p coin and mimic that.” If a nail is damaged or split - or chewed down to a stub, as in your case – Denny advises taking a Crystal Nail File to the talon (while in hiding, obviously). We’re not suggesting you do this for the inherent camp value; Denny says, “a file seals the free edge of the nail to prevent further snagging and damage.”

As for your massacred cuticles, invest in Denny’s Expert Nail Remove & Rectify (£11 from to dissolve them so you can regrow them and start afresh. Once they’re back and looking more human, invest in a cuticle oil and use something called a hoof stick to gently push them back and prevent hang nails. This might sound high maintenance but you need to keep cuticles in check because they’re a protective barrier, preventing bacteria and nasties entering your body.

Find Ahmed at

(Image: Getty)