How to keep your hands clean and protected while gardening

Gardening can be a rewarding activity. It requires a lot of hard work, but once you are done, you get to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor. However, as any gardener can attest, it is not without its pitfalls. One downside to gardening is the damage the activity can do to your hands. 
Gardening can wreak havoc on your hands, causing cracks, calluses and awful looking nails. If the way your hands look is important to you, there are a few things you can do to keep your hands looking great when gardening.
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Always wear gloves
We all know this, but it really is one of the simplest ways to reduce gardening-related wear and tear on your hands. XO Jane recommends selecting a pair of well-fitting gloves to wear when gardening. For projects where you want to be able to feel the dirt on your hands without actually putting them in the dirt, the website suggests wearing thin gloves such as  Atlas Nitrile Touch gloves. Another thin glove option, according to eHow, is cotton gloves. If you choose to wear cotton gloves, know that water and dirt can make their way into them, so consider wearing a pair of surgical gloves underneath as TipNut recommends. To ensure that gloves become a habit, XoJane recommends having a few pairs stashed around your garden, so that you don’t forget to don a pair when you are working outside.
Prepare your hands before gardening
If you decide to go without gloves, scratch a bar of soap so you get soap shavings under each nail. Then, rub petroleum jelly on your cuticles and nails before gardening. The dirt will adhere to the soap and petroleum jelly. After you are done gardening, all you have to do is wash your hands to remove any dirt residue and scrub under your nails using a nail brush to remove the soap shavings. Farewell to soil and dirt trapped under your nails. Tip Nut recommends the soap and petroleum protection even when working wearing gloves. 
Post-gardening care
For an extra post gardening treat, Tip Nut recommends whipping up an all-purpose scrub made of  two tablespoons of  oil and three tablespoons of sugar. Massage the scrub onto your hands and then rinse it off. This will help remove any dirt stains on your hands. 
Adopt a great hand hygiene routine
XO Jane recommends keeping your nails short and neatly trimmed at all times. Before you shower, XoJane also recommends using a dry brush on your hands and nails. Follow that up with a good buffing of your hands with a pumice stone. Finally, slather  your hands with a good hand salve to retain moisture and keep your hands supple. "Being a gardener is no excuse for ooky hands!" 
Check out the video below from HGTV for a few other great tips for hassle-free gardening.
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Who says you have to compromise? If you follow the tips above, you can actually have the best of both worlds—a beautiful garden and nice-looking hands.
Resources EHow, XO Jane, Tip Nut, and HGTV

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