When it comes to having healthy, strong nails, a manicure isn’t the only option (although I would never say no to one…). Taking care of your nails on a regular basis will ensure that they’re always in the best condition. Whether you religiously get your nails done or can’t stop biting them, here are 12 simple tips for healthy nails.
Take Care of your Cuticles
Cuticle oil is the key to healthy-looking nails. Your cuticles protect the base of the nail, so when they cut - which can happen if your cuticles are very dry - it breaks this seal of protection and causes a nail infection.
If you can’t stop messing with your cuticles, I recommend gently pushing them back with a wooden stick. Better yet, book yourself in for a manicure and let a professional clean up your nails. However, you’re better of regularly applying cuticle oil and massaging it into the skin to keep your nails nourished.
If you haven’t got any cuticle oil on you, you can even use a dab of lip balm and apply that instead.
You moisturise your face before bed, why shouldn’t you give the same attention to your hands & nails? Keep a tube of hand lotion by your bed and deeply massage a bit into your hands every evening - during winter in particular. Your skin becomes more susceptible to dryness during the cold weather.
Regularly applying lotion will maintain the moisture and prevent breakage. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when outside to prevent dry & flaky skin.
Sometimes your nail health comes down to your nails simply not getting the vitamins they need. Getting that daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun is great and all, but as most of us know, relying on this in the UK is unrealistic.
So, what can we do to get our dose of vitamins when we’re constantly stuck under a downpour of rain? Fortunately, there is an abundance of vitamins which encourage nail health. Biotin, for one, is found in many food sources - nuts, avocado, eggs - and can be available as supplements. Taking this daily will encourage cell growth and strengthen your nail plate!
Don’t bite your nails
Yes, I know this is often a habit and is easier said than done - trust me, I used to be a nail biter. But biting your nails is definitely a habit that needs to be stopped - not only is it not that hygienic (you have no idea how much dirt can get under your nails), but it also damages your nail bed. It only takes a small cut for bacteria to enter and cause a nail infection. If you’re having trouble quitting, we recommend applying Boots Stop & Grow formula to your nails.
Wear gloves when you’re cleaning
Anytime that you’re washing up the dishes or cleaning with toxic chemicals, we recommend using rubber gloves. These ingredients severely weaken the nail bed by stripping the natural oils that your nail bed produces to keep them nourished. As such, this causes your natural nails to become weak and brittle - using rubber gloves when taking part in such tasks will protect your hands and nails from these harsh chemicals.
Take a break from polish
In particular gels and acrylics. If you religiously get gel manicures or acrylics, we recommend having a two-week break every 6 weeks and just applying a layer of regular polish. Gels and acrylics don’t let your nail bed breathe and the process of getting them removed can dehydrate the natural nail.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t have gels - after all, the long-lasting shine is definitely worth the hassle, but know when it’s time to let them breathe. Even going from one strong polish to another can cause weak and yellow nails. Sometimes, a small break is all your nails need to rejuvenate.
Protect your nails
When you do have polish on your nails, make sure you’ve always protected your nail plate with a base coat. It only takes a few seconds to apply, so there’s no excuse to cut nails and trust me, you won’t regret it. A base coat protects your nails from being stained (especially if you’re wearing a strong colour) and makes the colour on top more opaque.
When getting a professional manicure, your technician will always start by applying a base coat to prevent your nails from being damaged - some even use a strengthener base polish.
Keep Nails Trimmed
As much as I love having long nails, I often find that they tend to break more often and they’re harder to manage. Having shorter nails - especially if your nails are already weak - will look neater and feel healthier. Much like your hair, regularly trimming your nails will encourage nail growth and keep them nutritious. If you still want to grow them, I recommend waiting until they’re strong so that they’re less likely to chip.
Be careful about which products you use
Some polishes and nail polish removers are bad your for your nails. They can weaken, dry out and strip the natural oils from your nail bed. If you’re in doubt, always do research before buying a new polish or book in for a professional manicure.
Nailberry does a range of non-toxic polishes which are 12-free, vegan, cruelty-free and don’t damage your natural nails. You can read more about a Nailberry Manicure one our website.
If you work with your hands a lot, it may be handy to have a file on hand (I have one on my desk) - it can be useful when smoothing away any uneven or sharp edges to avoid them catching on to something and breaking.
When you do file, make sure you always work in one direction. It’s very common to go back and forth without realising; however, this isn’t the best way of protecting your nails. In fact, filing in one direction will create a smoother finish and reduce the risk of your nails chipping.
Don’t use your nails as tools
Your nails are delicate and keeping them in good condition means taking care of them. Using them as tools - opening cans with the tip of your nail, constantly tapping them on the surface, scratching things off - adds unnecessary pressure to your nail bed and cause them to break. It can also cause any polish to chip - a big no-no from me!
Pay attention to your nails
Always keep an eye on your nails. Recognise when they’re healthy and when they need some work. Healthy nails often have white tips, pink-ish nail beds and noticeable cuticles (do not cut them - they are there for a reason). If you notice that your nails are feeling weak, are discoloured or feel brittle, then it might be time to take a break - it’ll do them good!