A well-formed hand, white and soft, with tapering fingers and polished nails, is a rare gift; but where nature has denied these possessions, it is easy, by proper attention, to give at least softness and delicacy of appearance to the hand, and improve the symmetry of the nails. An exchange recommends the wearing of kid or soft leather gloves at every opportunity, light being preferable, on account of the unctuous substances with which they are prepared, although not so healthy, and the application of a warm bran poultice to the hands once a week. They should be washed in tepid water, as cold water hardens and predisposes them to roughness and chaps, while water beyond a certain heat makes them shrivelled and wrinkled. In drying them, they ought to be rubbed with a moderately coarse towel, as friction always promotes a soft and polished ivory appearing surface. The soaps to be preferred are such as are freest from alkaline impurities. The growth and preservation of the nails depend, in a great measure, upon the treatment they receive. They ought to be frequently cut in a circular form, and the whitened portion at the root, next the vessels which supply the nail with nutriment for its growth and preservation, should always be visible. When the nails are disposed to break, some simple pomade should be frequently applied, and salt freely partaken of in the daily diet.
This article was originally published with the title "How to Whiten and Beautify the Hands" in Scientific American 13, 40, 320 (June 1858)