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How to wash dishes with long nails without breaking one!

Trying not to seem as if you are one of those coconut aunts who hardly do any chores because you don’t want to break any? Well, what if we told you that it is possible to wash dishes, maybe even scrub the pots without causing a dent on those nails? Between the harsh soap required to get off all that sticky cranberry-sauce-covered muck and the drying effects of the water, it’s like a war zone for your nails. Here’s how you deal:

Start out with a chip-proof manicure. If you’ve got some time to do your nails before the festivities begin, this is where your strategy starts. Gels will work best here, but if you’re not a big fan, here’s a secret nail guru Jin Soon Choi told us backstage at Fashion Week to make regular ol’ polish last: You’ve got to wipe the excess oil off your nails with nail polish remover before you start. If you’ve tried this move before and it didn’t seem to help, she says it’s because you rushed it. Don’t just do a halfhearted pass with a cotton ball—she says to really get in there and make sure that your nail is dry, dry, dry. Then apply your top coat as usual. (Pssst…if you need some festive nail ideas, we’ve got 30 right here.)

Wear dish gloves. A lack of moisture is your nails’ mortal enemy, Fran Cook-Bolden, assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University once explained to us. That’s why they get all brittle and break in the winter. Therefore gloves—either outdoors or inside when doing chores—are one of your best ways of holding off nail-wreckage. We’re digging these bright ones from Casabella.

Oil up. Right after drying your hands off, rub an oil, such as corn oil or soy oil, on your wet skin, suggests Nia Terezakis, clinical professor for dermatology at Tulane School of Medicine. “It won’t be greasy and your skin will seal in the moisture.” Your regular kitchen kind works, but here’s a ready-made one we love: Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil.

Apply cream. After you’ve rubbed on your cuticle oil, it’s time to lotion up. Reaching for a rich one here is a must because, well, dish-washing soaps aren’t known for their hand-beautifying properties. One of our writers has a slight obsession with O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. It’s a hardware-man’s secret with a texture that takes a little getting used to (as she describes it, “it’s sort of waxy yet still absorbs quickly”). And what it excels in is sealing in moisture, which you’re going to need after you finish your post-meal chores.

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