The Secret of Happy Hands and Nails 

I have a confession to make … I have an addiction. To nail polish. Ok, on the scale of human tragedy it might not rate very highly and it's probably not very cool in a rock chick kind of way (but then what was ever cool about becoming reliant on a mood altering substance anyway?) but nail lacquer is my drug of choice. It makes me feel good but has no side effects and it doesn't cost a fortune to have a big impact on my look. And I make no apology for the fact that I am not a shy retiring nail polish girl either. I like bold, bright, unusual colours. I have short nails, I don't 'do' French and I have very pale skin so delicate pastels just don't 'do it' for me.  I'm no expert on nailcare, but I do know that to carry off the colours I prefer, I have to have a smooth surface,  neat and healthy cuticles and hydrated hands. I've been told (yes, it's true) that I've got good nails. If only they knew! Over the years I've developed  a routine that helps my hands look their best, or at least feel that way. They're not naturally pretty, I have small hands, short fingers and a little finger that's taken a right turn since a childhood accident. I don't mind that one bit, but I do mind if my nails look shabby. I used to be a nailbiter, you see - right until I was 18 and perhaps this explains my obsession. But, whatever the reason for my evangelism, here are the products which I, or at least my hands, can't live without.

1: Philosophy hot salt scrubs

It's a basic body scrub but works so well for the hands and cuticles and it comes in a variety of 'flavours' from the famous Philosophy Grace range, through tropical Senorita Margarita to wintry Gingerbread Man and I love it. You need to do it, so you might as well enjoy it, right?

2: L'Occitane Shea Butter hand cream

I love hand cream and I have several on the go at once but, if you haven't got time to keep applying then this is by far the best. It's not a particularly elegant product but it does the job better than any other hand cream I've tried. And I've tried most of them. The texture is thick so it's particularly good at night time or when you're settling down to watch the telly.  It's very soothing, too, especially on chapped winter hands.

3: Nails Inc glass nail file

There's been a bit of revolution in recent years and many companies, both reputable and otherwise, have been bringing out glass nail files. The file of choice is the Nails Inc one because it is strong but not so much so that you file away your hard-earned nails without noticing and, unlike some of the cheaper versions, it doesn't make your teeth squeak. Provided you don't drop it (glass file and floor tile make shattered pile!) this file will last for ever. You just rinse it clean and it's as good as new. And, if you really can't be bothered to file correctlythen this is the ONLY type of file you should be using because it's virtually impossible to damage your nails.

4: OPI Avoplex nail & cuticle oil

Every one of us, male/female, young/old, polish wearer/au natural should be using cuticle oil every day (several times a day, to be honest) if we want presentable cuticles. In my opinion cuticle oil is the single most effective way to improve the appearance of your hands. Almost any cuticle oil will help, but OPI's version is the very best. It helps keep the base of the nail (nearest to the new growth) moisturised and so helps avoid excess ridging and splitting in the nail as well as preventing sore, cracked cuticles.

5: Nails Inc Striptease Cuticle Remover

It's gentle, it's quick, it's effective. It makes excess cuticles easy to push back with a gentle pusher and keeps future growth at bay so I rarely have to risk using nasty nippers.

6: OPI Nail Envy

Really the hero product of them all. It's a nail strengthener and base coat in one. It's no faff, it doesn't over-harden, and a bottle lasts for ages. I stray from it from time to time but I always come back because nothing gets my nails healthier and stronger like this stuff does. It comes in a gloss or matte formula too, so chaps feel happy using it.

7: OPI Chip Skip

Some of us just have naturally oily nails. Some of us find our polish peels or chips easily. (Well my hand is in the air, how about yours?) This product helps to stop that by super-cleaning and balancing the nail surface before polish goes on. Wonderful stuff. If I forget to use it, I regret it within two days.

8:  A nail buffer

There are a lot of these about and while we shouldn't use them too often (for fear of thinning our nails too much) they can be invaluable to even out the occasional ridge or dink in the nail. I generally prefer those by Nails Inc or Leighton Denny.

9: Leighton Denny Precision Polish Corrector & Brush

If you're fond of dark colours, French manicures or just really bad at painting your nails, this product is a godsend. The solution and brush can clean out flooded cuticles, neaten up smile lines and remove splodges on finger tips.

10: Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat

It has caviar extract in it and is from the funkiest nail brand out there, but what really matters is that it gives a hard, very glossy coating to your polish and, when used on still wet Nails Inc polish, is touch dry in 45 seconds and within a couple of minutes with other polishes.