Beauty: Cleanse, tone, moisturise - Paws for thought

Don't forget the extremities, advises Annalisa Barbieri. Hands and feet need a lot of looking after in these dark days

Hands and feet are always the last bits to get looked after, yet I have never understood why. When I finally realised that I was never going to be 5'10", I decided to make all the sum parts of me as good as possible. I was aided by an adolescent loathing of high heels, which I now realise was a blessing for my feet. I lived in desert boots, not without ridicule from my friends as these were not then at the cutting edge of fashion. To this day, and I feel I can say this proudly, I have not one bunion or corn on my feet, nor hard skin. I have never known the pain of an ingrown toenail.

The reason I kept up my care of them is that feet take very little looking after. In the bath, give the hard bits a good scrub with a synthetic pumice, pounds 1.50 from the Body Shop. These are excellent and much better than a natural pumice stone which I find just slides all over the place.

There are many fine foot-specific creams that will refresh your feet, moisturise them and stop them smelling. But really, unless you have loads of time on your, ahem, hands then you won't use them and foot care will seem like a pain. All you need to do is slather them in whatever cream you've put on your body and shove them in some socks before watching telly. Every week or so, push the cuticles back with an orange stick, but this seems an attractive pastime to me only when vilely drunk and at home on my own.

Marcella Borghese does a posh version of the cream-on-feet-in-socks I have just described. Called Spa Socks Revitalising Footcare, they last about six months; outside they are cloth, inside they feel like a cow's birth canal. (One can only imagine.) They are almost as expensive as a whole cow too, at pounds 39.50. Do they work? Yes, they are fab. Are they worth it? No, but if you are rich, then good. There is also a hand version, pounds 39.50, which you can imitate by applying some good hand creams, putting on cotton gloves (pounds 1.90 from Boots first aid section) and doing nothing for a couple of hours.

Hand creams are as important as face creams and there are a lot of rubbish ones around. I don't like cheap hand creams for one main reason: they stink, whereas more expensive ones tend not to. I don't understand why people baulk at spending money on hand creams when our hands work so very hard for us. The very best hand cream I have ever found is by Lancaster and is called Suractif Age Protection Hand Cream, pounds 21. It smells divine, goes on well, sinks in, leaves hands feeling soft for ages and, impressively, has an SPF of 12. In short, it does everything a hand cream should.

Other very good ones are Aveda's cheekily named Hand Relief, pounds 15, which is rich and nourishing but not too greasy and has a nice zesty smell. Crabtree & Evelyn's jojoba barrier hand cream, pounds 6.95, goes on a bit greasy and then suddenly sinks in.It smells lovely but quite strongly; you might prefer a less scented cream such as Chanel's Protective Hand Cream, pounds 16.75, which is extremely good, but not quite as good as Lancaster's. It was a tiny bit too oily for me so would probably be very good for an older hand. Sisley's Botanical Hand Cream, pounds 34, is also good - thick and nicely rich - but for the price, I expected better.

Origins Handle with Care, pounds 11, is an excellent everyday cream. It sinks in immediately so you don't mind using it every time you wash your hands, but some might not find it quite moisturising enough. Another good everyday cream is Marcella Borghese's Mani Vitale time-defying hand cream, pounds 21 - it's very light. Marks & Spencer do something called Nightshift Hand Serum, pounds 7, which, mysteriously, says on the tube you should apply only once a day. I hate it when they put things like this without explaining why, so I rang them and asked - and they explained that it's to do with the vitamin C in the serum which works better at night, as you're not constantly washing your hands (unless you have a compulsion disorder).

If your hands are very rough to start off with, then you need to get rid of the old skin first. A very cheap and effective way to do this is to pour a teaspoon of warmed olive oil and a generous pinch of salt into the palms of your hands and rub all over. Smelly hands will be made good again with a quick one-two with a lemon wedge, especially rubbed under nails. Boots No 7 do a Hot Wax Nail Conditioner, pounds 6, for which you get four sachets of wax which you put in a cup of hot water. The wax melts and you dip a finger in three times so that your nails are coated with lovely warm wax. But you can buy great slabs of paraffin wax from chemists for about pounds 3.80 which you can then boil down in an old saucepan, leave to cool until it's just nicely warm and paint all over your hands and feet. Leave on for 10 minutes or so and them peel off. This is a glorious treat and especially soothing for achy finger joints.

Finally, I have a Super Tip for you. Buy a nail glosser (a couple of pounds from Boots, Superdrug or Body Shop). It's shaped like a file. One side, normally pink and white, files down ridges and the other, usually grey, buffs nails to a fabulous mirror shine - ultimate glamour. Oh, and don't forget to use the glosser on your toenails as well.

Aveda: 0171-410 1600; Body Shop: 01903 844554; Boots: 0845 0708090; Chanel: 0171-493 3836; Crabtree & Evelyn: 0171-603 1611; Lancaster: major department stores; Marcella Borghese: 01273 408800; Marks & Spencer: 0171- 935 4422; Origins: 0800 7314039; Sisley: 0171-730 1234; Superdrug: branches nationwide.

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