Don't expect to wake up with Cher's claws (pictured here), but here are a few ways to at least keep you from having to sit on your hands:

Don't let your fingers do the walking, unless you want stubby nails. Don't dial phones (use the end of a pencil), open flip-top cans or pry lids with your nails.

Remember that nail-polish remover is potent stuff (look how you run for it to remove all sorts of other paints and marks) and weakens your nails. Use as little and as infrequently as possible, being careful to keep it away from your skin and, after using, scrub your nails well with soap and a nail brush.

Don't be afraid to load on lots of coats of anything on your nails. A base coat is a must since it gives a smooth surface for the enamel to adhere to, and a top coat puts a protective glaze on the nails to help keep polish from chipping. If you want "killer" nails, apply a new layer of top coat every other day: It will keep the polish from chipping and give nails a shiny look.

If you want a smooth nail edge, the finer the file, the smoother the edge, whether you use a diamond file or an emery board.

Smoking can cause stains to hands and fingernails. When Anna Chennault occasionally smokes, she uses a cigarette holder.

Don't feel that you have to wear rubber gloves when immersing hands in water for long periods of time. Dr. Zaias recommends simply drying nails thoroughly and applying a moisturizing cream to prevent drying.

If you can deal with them, try one of the new nail elongators. You'll have long (artificial) nails on top while yours are growing underneath.

Buffing is helpful in smoothing the surface of the nail and increasing circulation. Most professional manicures start with a gentle buffing.

Don't let your nails rule your life. Sulking for days if you break a nail is not worth the energy.And, as they say when you're weeping over a new short haircut, it will grow back. (Slowly: Nails grow a little under a millimeter a week.)