The correlation between our nails and health is a strong one. Discoloration of the nail bed, changes in shape or texture, separation from the surrounding skin and swelling or pain around the nails are all symptoms that can signal a doctor to potential health issues. Not all nails problems are serious, though. Some are simply caused by a lack of proper nail care. Take a look at these five dos and don’ts for the healthiest nails you can imagine.
5 Healthy Nails Do
- Keep Fingers Clean and Avoid Moisture
Wetness and dirt are the ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. To avoid having it grow under your nail and lead to a poor texture and potential fungal infection, avoid prolonged contact with water. Wear cotton-lined gloves when washing dishes and stay away from any harsh chemicals.
Moisturizing your hands will hydrate your nails and cuticles and lead you smooth skin with a youthful glow.
- Apply a Nail Hardener
A protective layer of a clear nail hardener can help strengthen nails, and the taste may deter any nail biters from chomping away. Weak or brittle nails usually see the most improvement, and it’s also crucial that you avoid trimming excessively or biting nails out of anxiety, as this also exposes the bacteria and germs on your nails into your mouth.
- Invest in Cuticle Oil
Manicures, nail polish, cold temperatures and other external factors can leave your cuticles dry and cracked. Pick up some cuticle oil and give your fingers a soak regularly. This will help soften the skin and prevent any painful hangnails.
- Reapply a Top Coat
Beauty nails need care too. The top coat of most nail varnish fades quickly and can leave the color dull, and day-to-day activity can leave the edges chipped. Reapply a clear top coat every few days to keep the color from fading. A strengthening base and top coat is recommended.
5 Don’ts for Better Nails
- Skip the Base Coat
If you’re in a hurry to get your beauty nails looking their best, then a base coat may seem like an unnecessary time consumer, but it’s actually the most important part of a good manicure. The base coat helps shield your nails from the chemicals and irritants in some nail polishes, which can cause damage to the surface and lead to poor texture. A base coat of clear strengthening polish doesn’t take long and will even make your nails look better painted, since it provides an even surface for colored polish to be applied over.
- Cut Cuticles
Professionals may want to take scissors to your cuticles, but don’t let them. Your cuticles are built up to protect bacteria from entering the area around the nail. If you have a hangnail, soak it in water and trip the top off, but don’t go snipping your natural cuticles down. Instead, use some cuticle oil and push them down yourself, or ask your manicurist to do it for you.
- Use Nails as a Tool
This is a tough one to resist, because half the time we may not even realize we’re doing it. Using your nails to scrape, tear and pry things should be avoided, as they all can lead to cuts on the cuticle, increased risk of bacteria exposure and cause damage to the nail itself.
- Peel Off Polish
This habit is almost just as bad as nail biting. When you peel or scrape off a layer of polish with your teeth, you’re actually removing a layer of the nail surface. Stick to a non-acetone polish remover and find another way to handle your nerves.
- Soak Nails for Too Long
This falls right back to number one of our dos: avoid prolonged water exposure. It may feel nice to relax in a hot bath for hours or soak your nails in a scented scrub, but hands that are soaked too long can wind up with engorged cuticles that are weakened. Don’t skip your soothing bath – just keep those hands above the water with a good book or the latest issue of your favorite magazine.