I am very popular at dinner parties. Inevitably, the typical scenario is several people know or learn that I am a dermatologist and at some point during the evening I am oh so subtlety motioned into a dark corridor or to a far reaching powder room where I am asked to view a suspicious mole on a leg, an odd and persistent rash on someone’s chest, or commonly an abnormal looking toenail. Modesty does not usually come into play during these intimate interactions and very often these bathroom consults veer off into additional personal anecdotes relating to prescriptions, sleep habits and sexual issues.
Recently at a dinner party I was seated at a table with a healthy mix of hedge funders and art world. Prepared for the usual discussions of the art bubble, where everyone is booked at Basel and the latest activist investor controversies, the conversation suddenly turned to me and my area of expertise – nails. It soon became apparent that everyone at the table – (yes, the macho Wall Street guys too) was openly discussing their last pedicure experience.
This was so much more interesting than the usual dinner party chatter and it was so enlightening to learn that men are not only engaging regularly in professional nail care but that they are talking about it openly and unapologetically.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that the salon and beauty industry are taking notice. Man cave stylized Hammer & Nails Salon, an all male salon that opened on Melrose Avenue in LA was the brain-child of Michael Elliot who observed that men want to feel groomed but don't necessarily feel comfortable walking into a female dominated and decorated space. Per The New York Times, over half of the men’s treatments in the Essie nail area at the posh Samuel Shriqui Salon on the Upper East Side are finished with polish, usually clear. And while men are currently favoring a naked nail, shiny buff or a simple coat of clear there is a definite new openness towards color. Thanks to social media, celebrity culture has shared and embraced the “man-icure” trend. From Snoop Dog’s nail art on Instagram to Brad Pitt’s rainbow stripe manicure that he recently sported at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, it is clear that nail care is no longer exclusively a female cultural norm.
Nail care is about being kempt and caring about your appearance, hygiene and health. Soft feet and well manicured toenails are appreciated by any partner under the sheets. For those who are still not ready to enter a nail salon, here are some tips that you can do at home to step up your hand and foot game.
1) Invest in the right tools. For a basic manicure and pedicure all that you will need is a new high quality fingernail clipper, toenail clipper, nail file and a cuticle nipper. If you suspect that you may have toenail fungus, you will need two sets of implements and should see a dermatologist.
2) Use the tools properly. After clipping your nails use the file to smooth any sharp edges. The cuticle nipper is only used when you have the occasional hang nail. Hang nails should never be pulled off or bitten as they are a very common site for infections. For general cuticle care simply push them back after a shower with a wash cloth and apply your favorite cuticle cream, balm or oil, especially in cold, dry weather.
3) Remember to clean your tools by rinsing them with antibacterial or dishwasher soap and then soaking them for 5 minutes in either Isopropyl alcohol or Ethyl Alcohol (70%-90%). Swab the tip with alcohol before use.
As I wandered back to join the rest of the dinner party despite the fact that I had disappeared into a dark corridor with a mystery guest my husband had not batted an eye. He knows the drill, he asks me how many consults I have done so far that evening and suggests that I send a bill in the morning…