Maintaining perfect nails is not as complicated as many may think. As with hair, nails are usually their healthiest in their natural state. However, natural nails do require a bit of nail polish for protection and regular applications of hand cream as a moisturizer.
In fact, many argue that using natural nail strengtheners, which chemically cross link the nail plate, is actually a bad idea. Although they do make nails more rigid, they also make them less flexible and thus more prone to breaking on impact. It is actually more important that nails are kept flexible and moisturized.
Frequent nail splitting can also indicate dehydration. In such cases drink more fluids and use an oil designed to penetrate the nail plate. Then follow up with a moisturizing cream.
Several coats of nail hardener will help minimize chipping and peeling of the nail enamel. The trick is to find something that protects AND moisturizes. Nail hardeners with nylon fibers are also very affective.
By the way, regular use of nail polish can cause a yellowing discoloration of the nails. This is not considered damaging, but is useful to keep in mind if you prefer the “natural look” but use color occasionally.
Below are some useful nail care tips:
- Never clip nails to shorten them. Use an emery board to file nails down to size.
- Apply a top coat almost daily to help protect the tips.
- Use nail polish remover as infrequently as possible – especially those containing acetone. Most nail polish removers will dry nails out. Many specialists suggest using nail polish remover no more than once a week.
- Apply a hand cream or lotion after washing hands since soaps tend to cause nails and skin to become very dry.
- Cuticles should remain moisturized with Vaseline or a moisturizer such as Moisturel or Aquaphor. (Tip: Apply moisturizer before going to sleep each night.)
- Never peel or scrape off nail polish or use metal instruments on the nail surface to push back the cuticles. This can scrape off the protective cells of the nail surface.
- Break the habit of nail biting – it is very destructive to both the nail and the cuticle and can lead to infections that can actually deform the nail.
- An excellent time to do your manicure is after a shower, bath or the dishes. These activities will remove dirt from under the nails as well as soften dry nails.
- The cuticle protects the nail root from bacteria. Instead of cutting the cuticle, push it back gently with a rosewood stick or rubber-tipped cuticle-pusher. However, should the cuticle be hard and dry and sticking up, slightly trimming it is justifiable, but never remove the whole thing. Strong cuticle growth can be controlled with a cuticle softener or cuticle remover liquid.
- Keep your nails out of your mouth! Biting nails can damage the nail and the cuticle leading to a deformed nail shape or uneven nail growth. You can also transfer harmful organisms to the nail that lead to infection or even increase one’s chance of catching a cold or flu.
Fact: If you have a diet that is rich in oils you will have beautiful hair and nails. This is because virtually any kind of oil contains vitamins that are great for nails.
Tab’s DO’s & DON’T's for nail care:
Do not put your hands into any kind of washing up liquid
Think about a leftover bowl of a chicken casserole and what happens when you squirt one bit of detergent on that. Now consider what that’s doing to the natural oils in your hands and the natural oils in the fingernails which is the only part holding the finger nails together. It’s totally destructive!
It’s dangerous to cut the cuticles of your nails
The cuticle is a natural seal where the skin bonds with the nail. If you open a cuticle up, you allow bacteria to have access straight into the blood system.
The cuticle solution
Cuticles should be removed with cuticle removing solution. Also, every time your hands are in the bath for a long time, rubbing the cuticle and moving it back removes the dead cells. They must be very soft to do that and be in the water for 15 minutes.
Beware of fast drying nail polishes
Fast drying nail polishes today have a high percentage isopropyl alcohol (IPA). This tends to make nails dry and crumble. Once the polish dries up it become brittle, flaky and begins to chip off. A nail polish that bonds really well is also the type that takes a while to dry. So it’s a trade-off.
People tend to point their fingernails when they’re filing, which leads to filing away the sides of the nail. Because the sides is what gives the fingernail strength, pointed nails will tend to give you splits in the sides. Pointed nails break much easier. They should grow until there is at least an eighth of an inch of free edge before you start to point them. People started to wear their nails square (particularly in the USA) out of necessity because they needed the side wall of the nail to give it strength.
Every thing you touch
… is an emery board. If you have the slightest snag on the ends of your nails, it will cause your nails to rip. Every time you touch something, fingernails bend. Fingernails are meant to bend but every time you do, that snag will open up more and eventually turn into a split. How do you avoid this calamity? Use a very gentle file, never a metal file.
Best beauty tip in the world
Use a thick hand cream, smother your hands in it, wear cotton gloves, then rubber gloves and then do the washing up. The heat will melt the cream, releasing the natural oils and in two weeks even the roughest hands will look like a baby’s bum. The transformation is amazing.
And it’s a way to beat the household blues! It will make the fingernails grow too. The natural oils in the fingernails is what holds them together.
Continue on to: Nail Problems.