Do you ever see the nails of a celeb and feel insanely jealous? Okay, fair enough, they might have spent some serious time and effort decorating their nails or have got a professional technician on the job, but they still have to take steps to look after them when a professional isn’t around. They know how hideous a ghastly set of nails can look.
Taking care of your nails is important and is a mixture of being vigilant about the products you use, of observing good habits and of curbing bad ones. Below is a guide to having beautiful nails.
Leave cuticles well alone
The number one rule when it comes to nail care: leave your cuticles alone. Don’t cut them. Don’t push them back either. Your cuticles are your nails’ main line of defence against dirt and bacteria. Removing them will leave the nail bed wide open for infection and could damage it for good. At best, your nails will start to look red, swollen and ragged.
To take care of your cuticles, apply a cuticle oil every day. This will hydrate the nails and the nail bed, keeping both looking healthy. The hydration will prevent them from cracking due to lack of moisture.
Keep your nails clean
We clean our faces. Why wouldn’t we clean our nails, too? You should do this by cleaning under them. No matter how dark your nail polish, keeping your nails clean will help them to grow long and strong. There’s no need for sophisticated nail cleaning treatments, however. The basics of a nail brush, soap and water will do the job just as well.
Use a soft(er) nail file
Ideally, you should use a soft nail file that is smooth and fine. Emery boards are way too harsh on nails and cause them to snap and crack. When filing your nails, do so in one direction, rather than sawing back and forth. File them slowly and evenly. This reduces the risk of any breakage.
Avoid nail hardeners (or use them sparingly)
Flexible nails are healthy nails and you should avoid anything that can make them brittle. That means steering clear of nail hardeners, therefore, or, if you have to use them, then doing so very sparingly.
Ultimately, nail hardeners can do more harm to your nails than good for them. Experts say (some of) these products haven’t undergone clinical studies, so there’s no science to support the claims made about them. Few people will benefit from a nail hardener unless they have very weak or brittle nails.
Choose your nail polish remover carefully
Acetone is efficient at dissolving nail polish quickly, but you should avoid acetone-based removers, especially if you have brittle nails. This solvent really punishes the nails as it goes about stripping the remover. It won’t be long before your nails are peeling, flaking and splitting. The acetone will soon dry them out.
Don’t wash your hands excessively
Of course, in this age of Coronavirus, it’s important to keep your hands clean, but you should be careful not to clean your hands too much if you want to take care of your nails. If you’re in a line of work in which regular hand washing is necessary, rub moisturiser on your hands several times a day, particularly around the cuticle.
If you have to do chores, try to keep any contact with harsh chemicals to a minimum, which you can do by wearing rubber gloves. Mix some oil with some hand cream and rub it onto your hands before you slip on the gloves. It’s almost like pampering your hands while you work.
Be careful about your shampoo
Shampoo can be a sneaky nail destroyer. It could be working wonders for your hair but be having an unwelcome effect on your nails. Shampoos designed for oily hair will strip lipids and natural oils from your scalp, but they also harbour the potential to dry out your nails. If your nails are dry already and you’re using this type of shampoo, show mercy on your nails and look for a new shampoo.
Use a top coat
Top coats are a neat little nail care trick that will have your nails looking more put-together instantly. Even if you’re not decorating your nails with any nail polish, you should apply a top coat of clear polish. This keeps your nails looking shiny and it doesn’t take five minutes to do. You can buy a quick-drying polish so that even if you haven’t got much time on your hands, you can swiftly get your nails looking fab.
Observe a nail-friendly diet
How are your nails looking? Do you know they can alert you to potential health issues? Pale nail beds, half-white half-pink nails, white nails, and yellow-tinged nails with a blush at the base, are all signs you could be experiencing a serious health condition.
Ignore all the crash-diets. Instead, observe a varied diet that includes leafy green vegetables, seeds, oily fish, lean meat, nuts, avocado, some whole grains and sweet potato. You can reinforce your diet further with kefir, miso, kimchi and other foods that encourage bacteria growth. Drink plenty of water and go easy on the alcohol. This is all for the sake of your health as well as for your nails.
Whether it’s your cuticles or your nail polish, you’ve got to resist the temptation to pick at your nails, as powerful as it is. As well as looking inelegant, picking at your nails could damage them and stop them from growing. Not the result you want.
If your polish does start to flake off, it’s best to just get the nail remover on them. Acetone-free remover, of course. Picking at nails doesn’t just remove the polish, but also the top layer of the nail, making them become thin and weak. Although you might notice a slight chip in the polish, no one else is likely to, whereas there’s no hiding a set of nails on which the polish has been scratched away.
Learning about nail care
These are just a few major tips to help you take the best care of your nails, but you can learn how the professionals do it by going on a nail course. A good course can teach you how to take the very best care of nails and, if you’re interested in a career in beauty, to look after the nails of any customers who roll through a beauty salon or nail bar’s doors.
In this Coronavirus age, you don’t have to head out in the howling wind and lashing rain to attend the course, either. Nor do you have to sit in a classroom while others worship the sun outside. You can enrol for an online course and learn all about nail care but study at the time that suits you.
Good nail care is a question of paying attention to the products you use not just for your nails, but in general, and the impact they and your actions will have on your nails. Be alert to any bad habits you develop and nip them in the bud so that you can keep your nails long, strong, healthy and elegant.