While many of us may think that a regular trip to the nail salon is the key to a healthy set of digits, sometimes the answer is simple as “au naturel”. Treating any nail damage or maintaining your nail health starts at the foundation of your natural unpolished nail. Below are a few tips on how to attain and maintain your natural nail health.
Keep Your Nails Clean
Keeping your hands free of germs and bacteria is the foundation of healthy nails. When washing your hands, be sure to clean the beds and underneath your nails to prevent dirt from accumulating. Using a soft bristle brush to massage and scrub your nails and cuticles gently is a great way to clean and pamper your nails. Of course, too much of a good thing is not always best either as nails that soak too long or remain wet for long periods of time are prone to splits and cuticle damage.
Be Gentle with Your Nails and Surrounding Skin
When using any tool on your nails, the key word is gentle. Jamming your cuticle back with a plastic pusher or clipping nails too close to the skin can result in painful sores and tears that can easily get infected. Avoid using harsh metal tools under your nails that can lift the nail from the skin and expose you to bacteria.
Regularly Trim and Shape Nails
Just as a consistent hair trim maintains growth and health, regularly trimming your nails makes them less prone to breakage and tears. Always opt for health and practicality over length, especially if you are someone who has struggled with weak nails and breakage. When filing nails, a glass or “crystal” nail file will produce a clean and smooth edge where the classic emery board may snag and cause nails to peel.
Disinfect Your Tools After Each Use
Keeping your nail tools clean is just as important as replacing and cleaning makeup brushes to keep them and your face free of bacteria that may build up over time. Washing metal tools like clippers with soap and water and then wiping them down with rubbing alcohol after each use will significantly reduce your risk of infection.
No More Picking At Your Cuticles
Your cuticles serve an important purpose by sealing the base of your nail, so it is important to take care of that sensitive skin. Avoid cutting or removing the cuticle and instead gently push cuticles back to maintain them. Applying a serum or oil to the cuticle will help keep the area hydrated and lessen the possibility of cracks and hangnails.
Study Ingredients Found in Nail Products
Nail polish brands vary in quality. If applying color to your nails is part of your self-care routine, be sure to research each product you use to ensure they do not contain harmful chemicals and parabens that are damaging to your skin and nails and contribute to brittleness and cracking. Look out for nourishing ingredients like vitamins C, E, and D3 and calcium and zinc which can be found in SNS Nail dip powders and will keep your nails healthy and strong.
Splurge on Acrylic and Gel Treatments Sparingly
Yes, they look nice and last longer than a classic manicure, but acrylic and gel treatments can wreak havoc on your natural nails if left on for too long. It is important to indulge in these treatments sparingly and take the proper precautions to avoid any damage. A gel manicure requires exposure to UV light which is harmful to the skin underneath and around the nails and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Be sure to apply at least a 30 SPF sunscreen beforehand to help reduce that risk. It’s also important to give your nails a break between treatments to allow the natural nail to breathe and gain back strength.
Protect Your Nails with Gloves
Harsh chemicals found in cleaning detergents can further damage nails and the skin around them. House chores like gardening cause dirt and grime to get lodged deep beneath the nails or cuticles which can lead to irritation or damage by tools trying to scrape it out. It is recommended to wear plastic, rubber, or vinyl gloves when doing anything that might expose your fingernails to dirt, chemicals, or long periods of moisture which can weaken your nails.
Introduce Protein and Nutrient-Rich Foods to Your Diet
Oftentimes overall health can be increased with a revision of diet. Introducing foods rich in protein and nutrients like beans, fish, and nuts can improve the state of your nails, hair, and skin. Supplements are also available to counteract what you are lacking in vitamin E, fish oil, or biotin. It is recommended to discuss these options and any diet changes with your primary care physician or a dermatologist beforehand.
Everyone’s nail care routine looks different; it is important to find what works for you and your nails and stick with it.