Alison Young’s Beauty Commandments: Nails


The transitional Autumn/Winter season can create havoc on what previously may have seemed like good summer nails. This is caused by a combination of the slowing down of vitamin D synthesis, because of: the lack of sunlight; natural dehydration because of cooler temperatures and central heating; and the continual drying effect of hand washing with hands often drying out more because they are surrounded by absorbing fabrics of coat pockets and gloves.

This all results in nails becoming dryer, often flaking during the winter months, and hands looking more wrinkly than ever. Nude, perfectly healthy, shaped nails are definitely a strong catwalk trend and my top tip is…

If you can get nails looking good nude, then painting is easy

Here’s four important things to remember with your nails:

Nails Inc Latex1. Optimum Length
Know the best length and shape that, not only your nails are capable of growing to but also that your lifestyle can maintain. In this transitional time, a top tip is to take your nails down a little shorter. It will naturally strengthen them up. Plus, shorter nails suit the seasonal fabrics you’ll be wearing. You have a lot more buttons, zips, woolens, tweeds, layering, tights, shoes, and boots; all of which can cause more stress on the nail.

If you do wish to keep a longer length, then step up your strengthening maintenance and paint both underneath the free edge, and cap the circumference of the free edge, regularly to help reinforce. Nail length can also be playful as you can experiment, perhaps with different colours to what you would normally wear. For example, short, dark or bold nails are very much in and can carry off dark or bold colours easier than a longer nail.

Take them a little squarer, rather than pointed or oval, as the less surface area that you file, the stronger your nail is. Try not to file down the sides of the nails as this can cause horizontal, low fractures and your nail has to be in very strong condition to take a point or an oval. Square or ‘squoval’ nails are technically the easiest to maintain because they are the strongest and least likely to fracture or catch.

Crystal nail files are no longer an aspiration, but an essential for the strength of the nail, as you can weaken, split, and layer up your nail, opening up tears with the wrong type of emery board.



Leighton Denny rose2. Nail Fashion
Changing your nail colour has always been the easiest, and often the cheapest, fashion accessory and never more so than this Autumn/Winter. Nails are to be noticed. Even the nude nail has a textured finish of a sheen and a high gloss, while nail colour – more so than any winter before – has so many options.

The catwalk trends have been featured in couture fashion shows: from naturals and nudes, including the winter taupe and caramel, through to key accent colours of blacks, deep cherries, or reds which are a great way of updating your winter wardrobe. A black and red outfit is a definite hit and can be very simple to achieve with red nails and accessories.

Although with the winter months structure comes into fashion with layering and tailoring, the designers have shown a flirty, feminine side to the classic suit or working outfit by finishing with flowing and softer or shorter hem lines. You can interpret this fashion with your nails too by having a structured or bold outfit and accessorising with a softer and more feminine textured, coloured nail.

Nail art has lost its summer fun and gone into winter chic in a much more geometric, structured manner. This requires a bit of planning and needs you to think of block colours in fashion, how they work together, and then replicate them on the nail. One of the easy trends to follow is to use only one colour, but leave part of the nail naked (of course, with base and top coat) either on an accent ring finger or exactly the same on all ten.

Metallics are definitely playing the part, building up in the months towards Christmas when sparkle will take over for the party season. A transforming top coat, that is quick and easy to apply, will be a must own.

The other catwalk trend is definitely to use your nails to balance off your makeup i.e:

– a strong red lip is better suited to a nude nail

– a smoked eye to a taupe nail

– a structured, or very tailored outfit, to a feminine pink or delicate coloured nail

My top tip for reviving your winter wardrobe is to collect a selection of nail colours and be experimental and daring. Go for new season launches that you have never worn before. To give you confidence, place your old outfit up against you in a full length mirror and then hold your new nail colours up against it and immediately see the modern twist that they can give.


3. Hand Facials
A bit of hand cream every now and then may have worked a few years ago, but not any more. In this perfected world of high scrutiny, you can do so much better at delaying the signs of ageing (or treating them if you already have signs on your hands). It doesn’t have to be laborious, difficult, or even time consuming. You just need to analyse your hands in the same way you would your face. Don’t worry about the palms or insides of the hands, as this is naturally a thicker textured skin that has many secretory glands to keep it moisturised.

Firstly, place your hands palm down and look at the texture of your skin. If you pinch some skin (between your forefinger and thumb, some skin on the back of the hand, or near the knuckles when they are flat) and it goes back slowly or even not at all, then you need to look at anti-ageing hand care. That’s if you can pinch some, if you are younger or have firm skin you will not be able to – if this is the case, normal hand creams on a daily basis is all you need.

You also need to analyse whether you have pigmentation marks, redness, sensitivity, dryness or flaking and (even with today’s grooming standards) any excess hair. There is an answer to all of these and it is not always in manicure products. To stay ahead of your hands ageing which is, even for celebrities, the most difficult area to correct (which is why at a very young age, they have hand doubles), my top tip is to use your facial technologies to correct and improve your hand problems:

A) Hand cleansing with gentle moisturising foaming agents and carrying any products with you throughout the day. Think how many times you wash your hands during the day, using something unknown from a dispenser.

B) Hand cream application and carrying your smaller sizes with you, of course, for everyone.

C) At night time, add a serum or elixir underneath your night cream. For example: if you have pigmentation or discolouration use a brightening serum;  if you have slackening use a tightening serum; for dryness use a moisturising serum; and if you have sensitivity or redness use a desensitising treatment. By tailoring your products, you are beginning to customise the ingredients that you put onto your hands to get the results you want.

An easy trick is that for every face or body product that you apply, do not wipe your hands on a towel but instead apply any excess onto the back of your hands. If you want to see very quick improvements, then try applying a serum followed by a mask onto the hands every night before you go to bed. This would include, for example, using your SBC gels as thick layered masks, your Argon Oil as serums etc. to name just a few.

D) Exfoliation is crucial and should involve you keeping an exfoliating product next to your hand wash and hand cream at the sink. This can be done 2 – 3  times a week and daily if you are doing any DIY or outside jobs.

Nails Inc Floral effect

4. Be Your Own Fashion Stylist

Your hands are one of the most visual areas of your body, second to your face, and through their movement often catch attention even more. Take a leaf out of celebrities’ books where fashion styling occurs using the hands as ornaments, not just with the outfit. You need to balance the length, colour, and shape of your nail with the styles, shapes, and colours of your jewellery to create the image you are wishing to achieve.

This, of course, can be changed on a daily basis or just be looked at afresh for the Autumn/Winter season to create a more modern and youthful look. This may also incur some clever little makeup tricks, for example, using makeup primers on your hands to give a more blurred or youthful image and using illuminating products on the backs of the hands and down the length of the fingers to give a glowing and dewy look.

A top tip would be with preventing your skin from looking pale during the winter months is just lightly apply some of your progressive tanning products or facial gradual tanners once or twice a week maximum with a paint brush on the backs of the hands and lengths of the fingers only . This wont give you a tanned look but will give you a warmer look to your skin tone. This may also help you to be more adventurous and experimental in your nail and jewellery colours, and lead you to switch between cool and warm metals of jewellery.


  1. Linda Mercer October 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm -  Reply

    I have just read the article by Alison on nail care. I do look after my hands and nails and have many comments on my nails and am never without colour on. I did find it interesting that you can use gradual tanning products on the back of your hands – I will definitely be doing that as I have a gradual tan moisturiser! I do use serums and moisturisers on the back of my hands every night and use handcream and cuticle cream at lease 3 times a day. On reading the above I need to use handcream more often and will also be adopting this tip. Top tips from Alison which I enjoyed reading.

  2. Mary Robbins January 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm -  Reply

    Where can I buy the ultra violet machine for setting gel nail polish

  3. Margie January 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm -  Reply

    Loved this article What is the best anti ageing treatment for the hands

  4. Sheila March 30, 2016 at 6:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    Watched earlier show nails inc and you said you had nail psoriasis well me too any tips on how to cope with this horrible condition
    Many thanks
    Bought Tsv x

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