I hadn’t planned to write a post on nail care but I’ve had a few nail-related questions recently that made me think it might be useful. You may know that I also run a nail account on Instagram and a lot of the ladies I interact with on there will already know all this. However, I hope this is helpful for those of you that aren’t “NPAs” (nail polish addicts!). It's worth remembering that our nails are a very good indication of our general health. The tips below focus on how you can have healthy nails, assuming you don't have any health conditions that may affect your nails:
- Protect your nails from water / harsh chemicals as much as possible
When your nails are in water (or exposed to cleaning products etc) for prolonged periods, they soften and start to become weak as the adhesion between nail layers is affected - making them more prone to breaking. I always wear gloves to protect my nails when washing up or cleaning. Obviously we all need to wash our hands frequently but I’d also recommend using a moisturising hand cream each time after handwashing to nourish the skin, cuticles and nails. This is likely to be the next product in my range so stay tuned!
- Use a nail & cuticle oil rich in jojoba
No, this isn’t a shameless plug for my SOS recovery nail oil. Well actually, maybe it is, since organic jojoba is the main ingredient in my formulation! Why jojoba? It is thought that jojoba penetrates the nail plate and over time, with repeated use it makes the nail plate more resistant to water. You will start to notice a difference in how the nail looks – less dry / brittle and smoother, as well as brighter. See the difference it made to my nails & cuticles with several months of continued use. Just a word on cuticles – avoid over-trimming them as this can cause a lot of damage to the skin – you should only only trim the loose skin. Remember to gently push back cuticles at least once a week (ideally after a bath / shower when the skin is softer) - don't overdo this, only enough to stop the cuticle growing up with the nail. Too much and you risk exposing the nail to infection
- Good quality nail polish can provide a level of protection
You may have heard that you should let nails “breathe” (meaning don't wear nail polish all the time). However, applying good quality polish, or just a good basecoat protects nails from water or general activities, therefore reducing the risk of them softening / breaking. I prefer using 5 free polishes (free of DBP, formaldehyde, toluene, formaldehyde resin and camphor) or 3 free. Over the last year I’ve started to buy more indie polishes as they tend to be 5 free and I like the idea of supporting smaller business – there are loads of excellent brands out there to choose from. Check out my personal Instagram page for recommendations. My nails have got weaker as I’ve got older so I prefer the protection of gel polish as it allows me to grow my nails long. Again this is another area where there’s a lot of confusion. Soak off gel polish doesn’t damage nails, providing it’s correctly applied and most importantly, carefully removed (using the soak off method). The added benefit of gel polish vs regular polish is it means you'll use nail polish remover less frequently, which dries out nails. Regardless of what type of polish you use, don’t pick it off unless you want to pick off a layer of your actual nail whilst you’re at it – this is going to damage the nail!
- Always use a good base coat under any nail polish
Not only does it give a manicure a smooth finish but it also protects your nails from staining, especially if you like to wear darker colours
- File your nails, don’t clip them
I found that using nail clippers caused my nails to break. It's best to opt for a file instead, ideally a good quality crystal glass one. I use one which was given to me by a dear friend who sells them (here if you’re interested). I couldn’t believe the difference it made – smooth edges that don't catch on fabric and hardly any breaks. There are plenty of tutorials around on how to file nails correctly but the general rule is to not saw at the nail, but to file in one direction.
- Be careful with nail hardeners / strengtheners
There are all sorts of nail products out there marketed for their hardening / strengthening claims. The problem is they can make the nails overly hard and brittle if used all the time, therefore liable to snap - especially as they get longer. Your goal should be flexible, healthy nails rather than hard nails! Unless your nails are severely brittle, you shouldn’t need a nail hardener (especially if you're following the tips in here) but if you have to use one, only do so as a temporary measure.
- Do not use your nails as tools!
I know there’s a temptation to use nails to pick at things but if you want to avoid your nails breaking then I'm probably stating the obvious but be really careful how you use your nails!
- Keep your diet in check
Finally, this probably goes without saying, but diet affects the condition of our nails. Making sure you’re sufficiently hydrated is important, as is ensuring you’re getting enough protein in your diet (alongside all the usual guidance around eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg). Some people may be genetically predisposed to brittle or weak nails in which case it may be worth considering supplement like biotin (you can buy this fairly cheaply in Holland & Barrett), or seeing your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions
What other tips have you heard of for healthy nails?