First, i would like to note that if it's manly enough for Tyler Durden, it's probably manly enough for you.
Second, I would like to say that if your beliefs may lead you to think that getting or giving yourself a manicure is 'unmanly,' you may be right. it's not manly in the 'live off the land and rassle with bears' sense, but it IS, in my opinion, gentlemanly. A gentleman does not get haircuts, shaves, pressed suits, and shined shoes, only to offer an bear claw to shake when meeting a stranger. Even men with finger-taxing occupations like mechanics and carpenters can't afford to allow their fingernails to grow unchecked forever. Hence, i have decided to provide a how-to guide for all the grizzlies out there.
This might be a touchy topic at first glance because for most men nail care starts and ends with the occasional cutting of the nails when they grow too big to be left alone in the wild. Besides, in some societies and social circles men who take care of their appearance in general and their nails and skin in particular are regarded as being feminine. But as a matter of fact, as cooking can be regarded as simply a survival skill, cutting your nails and maintaining them in good shape can be regarded as basic personal hygiene and maintaining one's hygiene can hardly be a reason to laugh at somebody.
Men's nails grow faster than women's. Also, they are larger and thicker. This is how nature sees it appropriate. But the fact that men's nails grow faster and are larger, means that they also are prone to more bumps and bangs. Add to this the fact that generally men more often have jobs that involve physical labor, which makes their hands and nails dirty, and you will see why washing your hands once a week is not enough if you are to maintain a decent level of personal hygiene.
If you are still not convinced that being a men does not suppose poor nail and skin care, consider the fact that many male Hollywood stars, including famous action movies heroes, do take care of their skin and nails. Additionally, women are often repulsed by man with dirty hands, so unless you live in a very primitive society, where dirty hands and broken nails is the standard, some nail care is never too much. Besides, in many societies, having clean hands with delicate skin and nails is desirable by many men as well because it says that their owner is a white [collar], not a blue collar worker.
WITH THAT SAID....
Tools you will need:
Bowl of Hot, Soapy Water (i use a teaspoon of bleach in the water also)
Cuticle Pusher (pointy stick)
Personally, I feel that while the act of grooming one's nails is perfectly natural, i don't wish to do it in full view of my wife and son. I am not ashamed to take care of my nails, but it's one of those things that's better to never notice. most people will give little regard for men's 'pretty' nails, but will recoil in disgust at gross, long, or dirty nails. I like to keep them done without ever seeming like i put effort into them. Such is the way of a gentleman.
1. In order to soften the dirt under the nails, and to make the cuticles pliable, soak one hand in the bowl of soapy water, that has been heated to a barely tolerable temperature. A teaspoon of bleach in the bowl will remove any pigment contained in dirt grit or grime that is under your fingernails, and increase the margin of error when you scrape out said crud. even if you miss some, you wont be able to see it. Allow 5-10 minutes to soak, otherwise the skin will not be soft enough to work with.
2. Use the Cuticle pusher to push back the tissue any place where nail meets skin. Take care to not push back too hard, or you will have irritated nail beds that will drive you absolutely batty. While doing so, utilize the opportunity to remove any debris that has accumulated in this area. When complete, inspect the beds. they should look uniform, neat, and slightly rounded. Most Cuticle Pushers have a second tip, used for cleaning under the fingernail. Flip the CP over and utilize this end, but do so CAREFULLY. Being too brazen can damage the skin that keeps your nail firmly attached to your finger (called the 'quick', which is the subject of the phrase, "cut me to the quick"...cutting or damaging the quick is painful and lasts for days. Needless to say, this is best avoided.).
3. Next, use the nail trimmers to get rid of excess length. Less is more here, as cutting them too long is easily remedied by merely cutting again or filing, though cutting too short can only be fixed with time, and will hurt until they repair themselves. An easy method for knowing how long they should be is to cut approximately 1/8th of an inch shorter than the end of the fingertip. remember, we will be taking the nails shorter with the emery board in mere minutes, so when in doubt, leave it a little long.
4. We're rounding third base now, and heading home. Grab a hold of your emery board, flip it to the side with the rougher grain and shape your nails as desired. they should look rounded and neat, almost a reflection of the angle of your nail bed. Most men should be familiar with sanding wood, if only from shop class, and the same rules apply. Filing, like sanding, can be overdone. there is a time where one more brush stroke will ruin the painting, and if you feel you can only get your nails to 'good enough', then leave it be or the next time you try to scratch your back you'll be doing so with nubs. When complete, switch to the finer grit and buff out any jagged spots. this fine side is not for removal of length, but rather for touching up what you removed with the tough side.
5. Repeat on other hand, unless you dig the asymmetrical look. I personally can't pull that off :)
OK, now allow me to kill some unmanly myths about going to a nail spa salon.
1. It is not unmanly to pride yourself on proper grooming. it IS unmanly to have it done by another man, or during a mud bath.
2. If you dislike doing it yourself, by all means ask (or tell...*grunt*) your wife or girlfriend, to do it for you. being pampered by a woman is one of life's little joys, so if you have any objections to doing your nails, by all means, feel free to indulge. This statement applies to eyebrows too.
3. This act is NEVER to be referred to as a 'manicure', and especially, not as a 'mani'. have some self respect, manly man!
4. Toenail care is not as involved. By all means, just clip and scrape, and feel free to skip the lavender foot bath and emery board. Flip Flops are for Hippies and Jesus, so please oh PLEASE put some socks on.
5. It has a name. It's called an emery board. not a 'nail file'.
6. There is not now, nor has there ever been, an appropriate men's product that is applied to nails via a tiny paintbrush. Nail hardener, strengthener, polish, etc, isn't for you. Just accept it.