A surprising number of the most ingenious tools are made for manicuring, and a brief description of the chief varieties, and of the many preparations employed in the practice of manicure, will materially assist the reader in making the most suitable selection.
Three or four instruments satisfy the requirements of ordinary people, but to use only a nail brush and scissors is to be ill-advised, since the frequent use of a brush is harmful to the nails, and is often the immediate cause of small injuries to the cuticle.
The following four implements may be regarded as essential: Curved nail scissors; combination file, trimmer, and powder brush; nail polisher; as well as nail cream or powder.
Anyone, however, who cannot manipulate the scissors successfully with the left hand should be provided with nippers. Nippers are very useful and quite satisfactory, but in England they are not so much in vogue as are the file and manicure knife.
Manicure sets are sold in various sizes and prices, and for a shilling one can obtain a celluloid box fitted with the requisite leather polisher, nail file, brush, trimmer, and nail powder; whilst at prices ranging from four shillings to half a guinea one can buy, in neat Morocco cases, sets with bone and ebony fittings, or silver mounted, for about one guinea.
Time and thought should be expended on the collection of a manicure outfit. The scissors should be well chosen. It is not good policy to choose an inferior quality, and two shillings or half a crown expended in buying a pair is money well spent.
These scissors do the work of cutting, and the cuticle scissors are used for rounding the edges of the nails. Many people prefer to use for this purpose a cuticle knife (such as is illustrated), a very sharp instrument attached to a long handle, and which for trimming off ragged edges of skin is invaluable.
Nail nippers are very sharp, and made in a beak pattern at the points. Tweezers are included in most manicure outfits, and this instrument is extremely useful for removing bits of loose skin, and in cases where an obstinate little sprig wedges itself in the quick of the nail or in the finger-tip.
Of all manicure instruments the file, perhaps, is the most important. The most useful file to choose is one with a long handle, because it is less liable to slip or scratch the polished surface of the nail.
Emery boards can be used in place of the file. Many people prefer them, and even if not used as substitutes they are usefun and inexpensive accessories. Nail trimmers are made with one end pointed and one spatulate for pressing back the cuticle.
Orange sticks are invariably included in one's manicure possessions. They are really invaluable, for not only do they remove grit and dirt from the outer rim of the nail, cuticle cream for softening the edges of the skin round the nail and making more easy the process of polishing.
Cuticle knife but also are most useful for applying creams and nail bleach.
In England at the present day the most coveted and correct shape for the nails is the true filbert, and to encourage this an ingenious contrivance shaped in the form of a thimble has been invented.
There are many powders which are sold for the purpose of polishing the nails, and
To heighten the delicate shell-pink in the centre of the nail these powders and creams are tinted, and there is also a special form of rose enamel which gives to the nails a brilliant finish and polish, although in this country extreme smoothness is more admired than a very brilliant gloss.
A bleaching fluid should always be kept handy in case of discolourations on the nails.
The polisher, the use of which completes the operation of manicure, should be provided with leather of the best quality.
Beak-shaped nail cutter
Polishers are obtainable from Is. upwards, and there is a special perfumed variety sold for 3s. 6d.
After washing, the hands should be carefully dried, and, while they are yet soft, the nails cut and the cuticle carefully trimmed. A rounded shape should be maintained, and the nails should not be cut too short. The very sharply pointed shape is merely a cult of fashion faddists. However, it is not attractive, and should be carefully avoided.
After cutting, the edges of the nails can be smoothed with emery boards or a file, the skin all round pushed back with the nail trimmer in such a way as to show the shape of the nails and of the half-moon at their base. Next, with the aid of the cuticle knife or scissors, all ragged pieces of skin and nail should be carefully trimmed, and the nails will then be ready to be polished. Whether a cream or a powder is used for this purpose only a very small quantity should be placed on each nail. This should be rubbed in with the finger-tips, and briskly polished with the polisher until the desired gloss has been imparted to the nail. If, however, powder is used, care should be taken to brush it well out of the corners of the nail afterwards with the powder brush.
The nails also can be polished with the aid of a nail stone, and to do this it is necessary to moisten the palm of the hand, rub the stone upon it, let it dry, and then to rub the nails briskly across the palm. Afterwards, if necessary, the nails can be lightly rubbed with leather so as to give a finish.
A small quantity of nail cream rubbed into the finger from the first joint to the tip helps to impart that healthy rosy appearance to the skin, and, in addition, accentuates the brightness of the nails.
The nails, under all circumstances, should be attended to carefully every day, and this can be done very easily, for manicure can be learnt quite quickly, and, after a little practice, the operation becomes very simple, and takes only a very short time.
There are many varieties of polishing powders and creams for the nails, the ingredients used in making these preparations being practically the same.
Oleate of bismuth or oleate of tin and putty powder form the basis of most of the creams and powders made for this purpose. Not only does such a composition impart to the nails a brilliant lustre, but it is of great utility in diseases of the nail, and overcomes brittleness.
Nail stones contain a proportion of wax in addition to the other ingredients mentioned, and the nail stone is perhaps one of the simplest and quickest polishers. The gloss is retained for days, and, after washing, the nails only need to be rubbed with the palm of the hand.
Nail stones are inexpensive, but not so easily made at home as are some of the powders and creams. For instance, putty powder, liquid cochineal, and a little bay-rhum and glycerine lotion is easily made into an excellent nail paste; while a good powder is prepared by mixing oleate of tin and powdered pumice-stone, adding perfume to suit individual taste. Lavender and otto of roses are generally used in manicure preparations.
Although, after polishing, nail varnishes are often used, they are hardly necessary; it is generally sufficient to touch the nails with a little toilet cream.
Nail bleaches are composed of dilute acids, perfumed, with sometimes a little tincture of myrrh.
To whiten the nails dip the tips of the fingers in the lotion after washing, and polish with chamois.
When any of these preparations are made at home, care should be exercised in getting the right proportions for small quantities.
The nail-polishing pad