Something a little different today.  I got a lovely email from Kristen asking about what I do to take care of my nails.  In the spirit of this post, here's an all natural shot of my naked nails.  No cuticle oil, no base coat, no nothing. 

While they're not perfect, I do take steps to try to keep them at their best.

Here are my do's and don'ts:

•  Moisturize!  I use cuticle cream/butter every night before I go to bed.  Then I slather my hands in a heavy cream.  Sometimes I even sleep with gloves on when my hands or nails are especially dry.

•  I occasionally put cuticle oil under my nails as well.

•  I wear gloves when I do the dishes.  For a quick wash of one small dish, I don't, but if I'm scrubbing a pan or loading the dishwasher, I glove up.

•  When I'm taking off my polish, I wear a latex glove on the hand that's doing the scrubbing.  Not only does it spare the polish on that hand, but keeps those fingers from drying out unnecessarily.

•  I use a nourishing base coat.  Sometimes OPI Nail Envy, most recently Julep Nail Therapy.  I try not to leave my nails completely naked either.  If I'm not sporting a manicure, I put on a nourishing base coat anyway.

•  The nails on my right hand are usually not in as good a shape as my left since I'm right handed, but I really try not to use my nails as tools.  Sometimes you just can't help it.

•  I never clip, only file.

•  I push back my cuticles about each time I take my polish off.  I don't clip them unless I have a hang nail I need to take care of.  I don't use chemical removers either.

•  The single most important thing; I don't routinely use acetone to remove my polish.  I used to exclusively use pure acetone, but it wreaks havoc on your nails.  They were so dry and brittle.  The peeled all the time and broke easily.  If I'm in a super hurry or have a stubborn polish, I'll use acetone.  Otherwise, it's strictly non-acetone.  I can't even express how much that has helped!  On the rare occasion that I do use acetone, I rub cuticle oil in as soon as the cotton ball leaves my nail.

So there you have it!  It's what works for me.  I hope that answers your question Kristen.  I'm sure many of you have routines that are similar and many are probably completely different.  What are the most important things you do to keep your nails in tip top shape?