Everyone yearns for beautiful, strong, and healthy natural nails. But for some people, it’s a hard goal to accomplish. Luckily, we’ve talked to the pros, and they’ve shared some tips and tricks that can help everyone.
1) Always keep your hands clean
It’s important to make sure your nails and hands are always clean if you want your nails to grow and be healthy. Every few days, apply soap to a clean, old toothbrush or nail brush and scrub your nails and fingers. This will remove dirt and exfoliate your skin.
2) Be gentle with them
“Your nails are delicate, and scrubbing them too roughly can actually expose you to infection. Another no-no: Using metal tools under the nail, as too much digging can cause the nail plate to separate from the skin (called onycholysis). It’s a common problem for people over 50, according to Dr. Stern, who is also the developer of the Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System. This could also lead to an irregular white, arching nail tip, explains NYC dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky,” according to Good Housekeeping.
3) Trim/clip your nails regularly
Just like you trim your hair to keep it healthy, you should do the same with your fingernails. Every two weeks, trim your fingernails just a millimeter or so. Adjust to more or less depending on how your nails respond and how long you’re trying to grow your nails.
4) Prioritize health, not length
If you find that your nails break every time they get some length, it means they aren’t strong enough to handle that length. Start out with short nails with rounded tips and focus on building strength for a few months. As long as your nails are uniform, they’ll be beautiful.
5) Keep a nail file handy at all times
Going to work, going to the gym, and just daily life in general causes wear and tear on your fingernails. By keeping a nail file with you in your purse, bag, desk drawer, or wherever, you can fix and snags or rough edges on the spot.
6) Wash and disinfect your nail tools
When taking care of your nails, that includes taking care of your nail tools. Why would you use dirty, used nail tools on nails that you’re trying to keep healthy and clean? Every time you use your tools, be sure to wash and disinfect them.
7) Leave your cuticles alone
People often think that they should cut or trim their cuticles when that’s the opposite of the truth. It serves a very important purpose by sealing the base of the nail. Without it, you are more vulnerable to bacteria which can cause infection.
8) Use a base coat for extra protection
“Painting your nails at home is no excuse to cut corners by skipping the base coat. Dr. Prystowsky points out that this step not only protects the nail from being stained by the polish, but also helps the color look more saturated and opaque with just one coat. And if you really want to take things to the next level, Dr. Shamban suggests adding a coat of clear gloss between each layer to add extra shine and protection,” explains Good Housekeeping.
9) Check the labels of your nail polish
Just like all beauty products, not all products and brands are created equal. Check the ingredients before you buy nail polish and be sure to avoid toxic, nasty chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. Putting these chemicals on your nails can result in cracking, splitting, and brittleness.
10) A top coat is necessary too
Just because you put that base coat on doesn’t mean you don’t have to use a top coat. A top coat is just as important as a base coat in that it seals in the polish’s color underneath. Plus, it adds a shiny gloss! Add another top coat every three days or so to prevent chipping and to make your manicure last as long as possible.
11) Do gel and acrylic treatments sparingly
It’s hard to resist gel and acrylic treatments because of how glossy they look, how durable they are, and how long they last. But, the downside to them is that they take a serious toll on your nails. The biggest issue with gel nails is the UV exposure to the sensitive skin on your hands, leading to an increased risk of skin cancer.
12) Give your nails some R&R
Even though it’s fun to rock bold patterns and loud colors, it’s best not to do it all the time. Polish with lots of pigment can dry your nails and turn them yellow, even weakening the structure of the nail itself. But, there’s a catch, some nail polish removers are just as damaging. Try and just go au natural for a few weeks every now and again to let your nails rest and repair themselves.
13) Stay constantly moisturized
You moisturize your face every night so why not moisturize your hands and nails? Mix avocado and olive oil together for a super hydrating oil for your hands. Slip some socks over your hands and sleep for the night, wake up to super soft hands and nails that just got doused with nutrients.
14) Wear dishwashing gloves
“Whenever you’re cleaning with harsh chemicals, gardening, or doing anything that involves soaking or dirtying your hands, Dr. Prystowsky insists that wear rubber, vinyl, nitrile, or plastic gloves — some of which have a cotton liner. Cleaning dishes in hot, soapy water sans gloves can weaken the nails, while getting them caked with dirt from gardening will require a level of cleaning that you want to avoid wherever possible,” explains Good Housekeeping
15) Wear gloves or mittens when it’s cold
Similarly to wearing gloves when doing dishes, exposing your hands and nails to frigid weather can also make them dry and brittle. Moisturize first, then slip those digits into a warm glove or mitten to keep those nails looking beautiful.
16) Eat your protein!
Your fingernails are made of a protein called keratin and it can be improved (or hindered) by your diet. Taking vitamins like biotin, vitamin E, and fish oil can help the production of keratin. A diet high in protein-rich foods like fish, nuts, and beans is also great for keratin production.
17) Keep your nails round
Square nails are pretty to look at, but the truth is, those square edges are more prone to snagging, chipping, and breaking. When you keep your nails round, they’re easier to maintain and will grow longer.
18) If you see a break – cut your nails
Nothing is more disheartening than having a nail break after you’ve been growing them out for weeks or months. But, if you do end up with a snag or a break, it’s best to just cut it where the break is then cut the rest of your nails to match. If you try to hang on to that nail, the break could rip your nail even further down.
19) Massage your cuticles
Massage your cuticles with oil often. Doing this will increase blood flow to the area which will promote nail growth. Lightly massage the cuticles then cut off only the dead cuticle with a cuticle remover – do not cut the entire cuticle.
20) Don’t leave polish on for too long
That gorgeous polish you found is so amazing you want to leave it on forever, but you probably shouldn’t. The chemicals and pigments in nail polish can dry out your nails and leave them yellowed. As soon as your paint starts to chip, don’t paint over the chip, remove all of the polish instead and wait a couple of days before repainting.
21) No biting!
If you happen to have a nail-biting habit, you’re going to want to nip that in the bud if you want to have strong and long, healthy nails. Biting your nails is very bad the health of your nails. Try looking into ways to stop the habit. There are special nail polishes and also DIY home techniques as well.
22) Nails are not tools
Nails may have been used as tools when we were cavemen, but now? No need. So, stop using your nails as a screwdriver, pliers, or a knife. Doing so will cause them to break and those long nails of your dreams will stay just that – a dream.
23) Easy on the soap and water
“If you stay in the water for a very long time, your nails will become tender. It makes them prone to breaking. So, as soon as you are out of the water, pat dry them gently and let them dry before commencing any other work. Also, make sure that you do not leave any soap in your nails,” says Bollywood Shaadis.
24) Try nail strengtheners
Even if your diet is full of protein and you’re constantly moisturizing, sometimes you just need a little bit of assistance. Try investing in some nail strengthener so help harden your nails up a bit. You can usually find some at any drugstore.
25) Never scrape or peel off nail polish
“Scraping off your nail polish is the worst thing you can do to them. It makes your nail surface rough and patchy. It also strips away the top layer of your nails,” says Style Craze.
26) File nails in one direction
Some people think you file your nails back and forth with the nail file, but this causes frays in the nail. Instead, file in just one direction only for a smooth tip. Start in one corner and file to the center in one direction. Then to the other corner and to the center.
27) Stay away from water-based manicures
Try and stay away from water-based manicures because they tend to not last as long. The nail bed absorbs water and expands when soaked in water, it goes back to it’s original shape when it dries. When you apply polish as the nail bed is expanded, it will chip and peel as it shrinks again.
28) Buff your bare nails
When you’re giving your nails a break from polish, be sure to give them a nice buff as well. Buffing them gently every week or so will keep them shiny and with a smooth texture. Evening out any lines or ridges.
29) Make polish last longer
“You need to follow a series of steps for that. Start by cleansing your nails with vinegar. Soak them in water, then, apply a base coat. Put two layers of nail paint and a top coat on, and let them air dry,” says Style Craze.
30) Choose a non-acetone nail polish remover
Nail polish removers contains lots of harsh chemicals, there’s really just no way around it. One of the worst for the health of your nails is acetone. When choosing a nail polish remover, look for one that is acetone-free.
Those long, strong nails of your dreams are just a few weeks away if you start practicing these tips and tricks right now. So break out the nail file, grab the moisturizer, and start massaging those cuticles!