Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: My nails and cuticles get so dry in cold weather! Will anything keep them from cracking?

A: Your nails and cuticles are made of the same proteins as skin, which loses moisture during cold weather, says nail expert Carolyn Siegal, DPM, a podiatrist in Beverly Hills. Not only that, you're probably drinking less water because you're perspiring less, your hands are more likely to be exposed to wind and cold, and your oil glands aren't secreting as much as they do in warmer months. Then there's that moisture-sapping activity, hand washing, a staple (or at least it should be) during cold and flu season. Siegal recommends rubbing vitamin E oil or shea butter cream into your nails and cuticles once or twice a day and before bed, and making sure to drink enough water. Wash your hands with a nonsoap cleanser (Chapped Hands Cleanser by C.O. Bigelow, $12, is a great one) or a hydrating soap (such as Softsoap Shea Butter Liquid Hand Soap, $2). Have you tried all this to no avail, or are you, as I am, not in a position to spend the day with your fingertips basted in oil? Here's what I consider the solution of last resort: applying a rich cream (like Dove Regenerating Hand Cream) before slipping on moisturizing gloves you wear to bed (Bliss makes a good pair: Glamour Gloves).

Bottom line: If you can't tolerate slippery fingers during the day, try moisturizing gloves at night.