A manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and hands performed either at home or in a nail salon by a licensed professional nail technician or manicurist. A manicure treatment is not only a treatment for the natural nails but also for the hands. A manicure consists of filing, shaping of the free edge, cuticle treatments, massage of the hand and the application of polish. There are also manicure services that are specialties for the hands and feet. For the hands, the soaking of a softening substance and the application of a lotion is a common speciality. This procedure can be applied to the toenails and feet, this treatment is referred to as a Pedicure. The word "manicure" derives from Latin: manus for "hand," cura for "care."
Other nail treatments may include the application of artificial nail tips, acrylics or artificial nail gels. Some manicures can include the painting of pictures or designs on the nails or applying small decals or imitation jewels.
In many areas, manicurists are licensed and follow regulation. Since skin is manipulated and is sometimes trimmed, there is a certain risk of spreading infection when tools are used across many people and, therefore, sanitation is a serious issue.
Manicures began 5000 years ago. In India, henna was used for manicure. The term mehendi, used synonymously for henna, derives from the Sanskrit mehandika. Cixi, the Dowager Empress of China, was known to keep very long naturally-grown nails.
French manicures are manicures designed to resemble a natural nail, and are characterized by natural pink base nails with white tips. The tips of the nail are painted white while the rest of the nail is polished in a pink or a suitable nude shade. French manicures may have originated in 18th-century Paris and were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Like any style it is chosen for a variety of aesthetic reasons. Many choose it because it is very simple and give nails a natural, healthy look and can visually correct or perfect an otherwise imperfect nail.
An alternative to acrylic nails is to harden the natural nail by using a fluoride treatment. Fluoride claims to harden nails in the same manner as hardening teeth. However, some fluoride nail treatments contain Ammonium Hexafluorophosphate rather than Stannous fluoride, which is the type of fluoride normally used in toothpaste.
The natural nails are made up of protein keratin. The nail plate requires a certain amount of flexibility and moisture to encourage healthy growth. Using 'hardening' treatments and harsh chemicals on the natural nails will make the nail plate brittle and more prone to breakages. The use of nail moisturizers and clear polish proteins is essential for perfect growth. A professional Nail Technician or Manicurist will use a written, verbal and observational consultation to determine the condition of a clients natural nails. A manicure treatment should take from about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
The hands can be dipped in melted paraffin wax for softening and moisturizing. Paraffin wax is used because it can be heated to temperatures of over 35°C, without burning or injuring the hand. The intense heat allows for deeper absorption of emollients and essential oils. The wax is usually infused with various botanical ingredients such as Aloe vera, chamomile, tea tree oil, and azulene. Fruit waxes such as peach, apple and strawberry are often used in salons.
Occasionally, lotion is rubbed on the hand before submersion into the paraffin bath. The hand is usually dipped more than once to allow a thicker wax coat to form, making the coating stay warm for longer and less likely to break or tear prematurely. After the hands have been dipped in the wax, they are wrapped in either plastic or aluminum foil, or a special type of plastic bag or glove then covered with towel or special mitten to retain warmth. The hands are left for a few minutes before the paraffin is cooled and dried.
Hot oil manicure
A hot oil manicure is a specific type of manicure that cleans the cuticles and softens them with oil. It works well for dry skin and nails that are brittle as it improves both by leaving them soft and pliable. Types of oils that can be used are mineral oil, olive oil or commercial preparation in an electric heater.
Common manicure tools and supplies
Tools: Bowl of warm water or fingerbath
Cuticle knife and clippers
Cuticle pusher/Hoof stick – often made from metal or orange wood
Nail file/emery board, buffer, scissors and brush
Supplies: Cuticle remover * this is caustic and MUST be rinsed off the skin after use, oil and cream
Base coat polish & ridge filler polish
Top coat or sealant
Nail bindi stick-on jewels
Nail polish remover or nail polish remover wipes
Many nail salons across the country are offering personal nail tool kits available for purchase to avoid the issue of sanitation. The kits are often kept in the salon and only used when that client comes in for a treatment.
Many people choose to learn manicure skills by attending courses. Manicure courses provide students with practical tuition on the subject.1
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