You may sport the most up to date designer duds on that beautiful body of yours, but I promise if your nails look unkempt, so will you. Period.
This goes for both men and women. Nail care requires a few minutes plus a week, EVERY week. Your minimum routine should include a file, scissors or Clippers, and Nippers for hang nails or raggedy ended "cuticles" only.
What most people consider the "cuticle" is actually Eponychium, the true cuticle (Ptygerium) is the bits of skin underneath the eponychium that seems to be attached to the nail and grow out with nail (especially noticeable on the toe nail bed).
Image borrowed from: http://www.nail-solutions.co.uk
The Eponychium is a protective layer of living skin and should not be removed. If your salon cuts off your "cuticle" either stop them, or stop going to them.
The Ptygerium consists of dead skin cells and can be gently scraped away when pushing the Eponychium back.
The Eponychium will gradually thin over time after being pushed back regularly during your manicure. Mine are no more than 1/2 mm thick now.
Moisturizer - Moisturizer is good for your nails, your "cuticle" (Eponychium), and your skin. When you apply your moisturizer, rub it into the nail bed and surrounding areas, even if you are wearing lacquer. The Eponychium is living skin, and gets dried out and ragged like any other skin tissue. You don't necessarily need a special cuticle oil/cream, but you do need to attend the Eponychium regularly.
You can shape your nail to mimic the moon (Lunula), the tip of your finger, or a shape of your choosing (I knew a gal that loved to shape her long nails into points, not something I'd recommend for the office). I prefer a squared off shape that mimics the tips of my fingers. In my opinion, a rounded shape is very difficult to keep symmetrical and I don't bother to try. However, I certainly admire those who attempt and succeed at the rounded nail (like my 79 YO Grandmother).
See Linda Rose's Manicure Page - for a good, step-by-step, basic manicure
Kira's final comments:
Lacquer - For a natural plus manicure, finish with OPI's Matte Nail Envy or try one of the other matte lacquers:
Orly Nails For Males (discontinued?) and Orly Matte Top
Nail Tek Hydration Therapy Moisture Balancing Matte Topcoat
Salonsystem Matte Basecoat
Cuccio Naturale Forte di Matte Top/Base Coat
or Lippman Collection Ridge Filler Base Coat Matte Finish.
I don't like shiny polish finishes, but the only product I've personally used was OPI's Matte Nail Envy. Additionally, I seriously doubt I would recommend ANY of the above products because of their ingredients list. I will cover this item, more indepth, next time.
Country of Origin for appliances - I have 3 pairs of nail nippers in my medicine cabinet. They were all made in different countries: Brazil, Pakistan, and USA. My scissors are Italian made, and my clippers are Korean.
The best tools, based on quality alone, are the USA made nippers and Italian made scissors. Why? They are made from high quality base metals, their edges meet smoothly and they are properly sharpened. These tools will last a long time.
The Brazilian and Pakistani made nippers have edges that don't meet, and uneven tips. They don't cut properly, and they can't be properly sharpened. These two tools are pieces of crap and should have been tossed ages ago.
The Korean Clippers have edges that meet properly, but because they are not made of the best metal, I will have to replace them eventually.
The practical carry home message: quality control is more important in European and North American made goods. In essence, the tools that make it to the shelf are of higher quality all around that other options. Pick your tools carefully, and they will last you a long time.