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dry/damaged fingernails after working with clay


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#21 SShirley

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:30 PM

Thanks for this ! I've just started again after a 20 year break and my hands are a mess ! And yes - it does seem to be worse with the porcelain.

Next question - where on earth do I get Bag Balm in Australia ?! :D

*Off to search the internet*


Are there any Walgreen's there? I get Bag Balm at Walgreens in the lotion department.

#22 lynny

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 07:11 PM

Thanks for this ! I've just started again after a 20 year break and my hands are a mess ! And yes - it does seem to be worse with the porcelain.

Next question - where on earth do I get Bag Balm in Australia ?! :D

*Off to search the internet*

You can get bag balm from any vet clinics in Australia, but an aspiring business has clicked this is a popular product and now produce a fantastic range of products marketed as 'MooGoo' here. everything from bath milk, excema cream, body milk, hand cream etc etc available at most chemists- great stuff!




#23 Wendey

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:15 AM

Clay is alkali; rubbing vinegar into your hands after throwing neutralizes and balances your skin's PH level. Olive oil is an excellent moisturizer. I put 50/50 vinegar and oil in a squirt bottle, shake it up and apply it after every throwing session. Wonderful stuff. There is also a product by Shiseido called Hadasui Skin and Body Lotion that you can get at TNT Market - a Chinese grocery chain, or stores carrying Japanese products.
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#24 mud pie

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:26 AM

I've tried almost everything without great results, but I don't see not throwing pots as an option. I started using Lantiseptic a few months ago, it has worked better than anything else I've have used. It's main ingredient is lanolin, hence, it feels relatively gooey & greasy, additionally it doesn't have a very pleasant smell, but it does the trick. This is definitely not the product to use for any one who is allergic, or has a sensitivity, to lanolin. Locally I can purchase is at CVC drug stores, or just google it for stores in your area.

#25 macdoodle

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:25 PM

cut & pasted 4 u - Petroleum Jelly*

Give your dried hands and feet a special moisturizing treatment using petroleum jelly. This is one of the least expensive hand and foot treatments to soften and heal very dry skin. You simply apply petroleum jelly to damp hands and feet to lock in the moisture. Make sure to cover your feet with socks and your hands with cotton** gloves. This will allow the petroleum jelly to penetrate into the skin. If possible, leave the socks and gloves on all night. When you take them off, your hands and feet will feel much softer. Do this treatment every night for the best results.

*works with non-petro products too.

** i prefer non porous materials to hold the oils in.

***use warm/hot water shake or pat dry, then glom it on thick, add gloves or socks - then go count some sheep.




#26 smastca

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:20 PM

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream - contains a nail strengthener.

#27 MollyTinsley

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 08:53 PM


Thanks for this ! I've just started again after a 20 year break and my hands are a mess ! And yes - it does seem to be worse with the porcelain.

Next question - where on earth do I get Bag Balm in Australia ?! :D

*Off to search the internet*

You can get bag balm from any vet clinics in Australia, but an aspiring business has clicked this is a popular product and now produce a fantastic range of products marketed as 'MooGoo' here. everything from bath milk, excema cream, body milk, hand cream etc etc available at most chemists- great stuff!





oooh yes - I know the Moo goo - in fact I have a spare tub of it in my bathroom. I use the deoderant as well - its fabulous. THANKYOU :D

#28 Nancy S.

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:30 PM

I don't know about Bag Balm, but I personally swear by Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme. It comes in a little tin and all you do is rub your fingers on the waxy stuff and then massage it into your nails and cuticles before bedtime (do it every night whether you've been potting or not). It helps moisturize without petroleum products, helps your nails to grow and strengthen, and also works on those little cuts as well as chapped lips. Lemon has antiseptic properties, plus it smells refreshing and tastes great! It's all natural as well and easily found at many stores including CVS.

If you don't want to spend money on the Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, go with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rub a dab into each nail/cuticle until your hands don't feel greasy. If you do it at night you don't have to worry about contaminating your clay, etc.

PS, clip your nails...don't bite! That can worsen your problem. But I do echo the sentiment about keeping them short.

#29 Essaily

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 07:06 AM

I experimenting with different types of rubber gloves to throw and surprisingly it works. There are hypoallergic types, though I have to change often. The clay makes my skin have a reaction, especially the stoneware. I think the ingredients in the clay might be pretty harsh on your skin.

#30 Pres

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 08:59 AM

I don't know about Bag Balm, but I personally swear by Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme. It comes in a little tin and all you do is rub your fingers on the waxy stuff and then massage it into your nails and cuticles before bedtime (do it every night whether you've been potting or not). It helps moisturize without petroleum products, helps your nails to grow and strengthen, and also works on those little cuts as well as chapped lips. Lemon has antiseptic properties, plus it smells refreshing and tastes great! It's all natural as well and easily found at many stores including CVS.

If you don't want to spend money on the Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, go with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rub a dab into each nail/cuticle until your hands don't feel greasy. If you do it at night you don't have to worry about contaminating your clay, etc.

PS, clip your nails...don't bite! That can worsen your problem. But I do echo the sentiment about keeping them short.


Years ago, I had a colleague that taught in the same studio as I in a different period. I would often be in the room during my prep period getting ready for my next class. He complained about the cracking of his hands that would get really bad. I had the chance to observe his habits, and found that he would wash his hands with soap and water after nearly every thing that would get his hand dirty-often 4-5 times in a 50 minute period. He would teach 3 periods. One day I told him to only rinse his hands, except before eating and after restroom, as he was removing the protective oils from the hands. He tried doing that, and found that his hands healed up in a month. Next year no cracking. I always use a little hand cream in the studio, but don't obsess with it.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#31 porcelainsculptor

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:31 AM

I have been sculpting in porcelain for a while now and had the same problem. I make sure to scrub out all the clay with a nail brush and then I use A+D ointment.

http://www.amazon.co...ds=a d ointment

A manicurist told me about it years ago for my toenails. I use it in the winter too, for my feet, slather on A+D and then put some socks on before bed - it works wonders! I think the main ingredients are petroleum jelly and lanolin. I think I will give the vinegar a try too.

#32 Bette

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:50 PM

I have a nail problem that I have not heard other potters discuss: my nails easily separate from the beds, not entirely, but maybe half the length. I have learned this is a condition called onycholysis. Even with nails clipped very short, stuff like clay (or garden dirt, or food) can easily get stuck in there and make it worse. I wish there was a better solution, but the only way to manage this is to wear gloves or finger cots. Tried throwing with taped fingers, tried painting finger tips with liquid bandage products, but these don't work for me. So I keep a box of tight fitting nitrile gloves in the studio and in the kitchen, and re-use a number of times before disposing. Any other ideas are welcome!

#33 Benzine

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 06:10 PM


I don't know about Bag Balm, but I personally swear by Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme. It comes in a little tin and all you do is rub your fingers on the waxy stuff and then massage it into your nails and cuticles before bedtime (do it every night whether you've been potting or not). It helps moisturize without petroleum products, helps your nails to grow and strengthen, and also works on those little cuts as well as chapped lips. Lemon has antiseptic properties, plus it smells refreshing and tastes great! It's all natural as well and easily found at many stores including CVS.

If you don't want to spend money on the Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, go with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rub a dab into each nail/cuticle until your hands don't feel greasy. If you do it at night you don't have to worry about contaminating your clay, etc.

PS, clip your nails...don't bite! That can worsen your problem. But I do echo the sentiment about keeping them short.


Years ago, I had a colleague that taught in the same studio as I in a different period. I would often be in the room during my prep period getting ready for my next class. He complained about the cracking of his hands that would get really bad. I had the chance to observe his habits, and found that he would wash his hands with soap and water after nearly every thing that would get his hand dirty-often 4-5 times in a 50 minute period. He would teach 3 periods. One day I told him to only rinse his hands, except before eating and after restroom, as he was removing the protective oils from the hands. He tried doing that, and found that his hands healed up in a month. Next year no cracking. I always use a little hand cream in the studio, but don't obsess with it.



I used to have the same issue, no doubt for the same reason. I still need to try to use less soap, when I "Wash" my hands. Between washing my hands during ceramics and washing my hands during photo, they get pretty dry, especially during the winter months.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#34 SmartsyArtsy

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:31 PM

I have been trying the vinegar since this was posted and I do think it is helping.

#35 Benzine

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 09:02 AM

The vinegar/ oil combo intrigues me. Does it make your hands smell though?
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#36 earlyclay

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:54 AM

There is a product on the market that i have found helps. You put it on before you go to work. It is called "Gloves in a Bottle." I think it kinda locks in the moisture in your skin and nails. Wash the clay off after and use a old toothbrush on the nails. I sometimes put it back on after too. Hope it helps.

#37 Benzine

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 11:24 AM

There is a product on the market that i have found helps. You put it on before you go to work. It is called "Gloves in a Bottle." I think it kinda locks in the moisture in your skin and nails. Wash the clay off after and use a old toothbrush on the nails. I sometimes put it back on after too. Hope it helps.


I've used that product, or at least a similar one. However, I used it when using oil-base printmaking inks, so they washed off easier.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#38 Krebs Pottery

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 08:18 PM

Being fair, I have very sensitive skin. I feel like I have tried using every lotion I could get my hands on. My favorite is for faces... Olay Total effects (fragrance free). I runs about $17/1.2fl oz bottle but it is the only thing that actually feels good and gives me a GREAT amount of relief. Hope it helps.
~Cheryl




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