Haircare, skincare, and style should not be the only things on your mind when it comes to looking and feeling beautiful! Your nails deserved some TLC to keep them strong, healthy, and looking as great as they possibly can.
We often notice each other’s hands on a subconscious level as we use them in the majority of our daily communication. So, it may come as no surprise that nail care is a high priority on so many people’s lists!
Let’s face it, we all dream of maintaining flawless manicures and pedicures all year long. Yet if you do not dedicate some serious time to taking care of your nails, this comes with some serious risks.
Overall, nails are pretty fragile parts of the body. This means they are completely susceptible to damage caused by the smallest poor hygiene habit or even a terrible manicure.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can implement in your daily life to ensure that your nails are as beautiful, healthy, and strong as ever.
Here are our top tips to get you the nails of your dreams.
1. Be Gentle On Your Nails
We use our hands for practically everything in our daily lives. Although your nails can handle a lot of pressure and just about any task from pulling weeds to typing away at a computer for hours on end, it’s super important to treat your nails with care.
You may not think it but your nails are extremely delicate. This means you need to treat them accordingly. For instance, you should aim to avoid using any sort of metal nail tools (including nail files) under your nails.
Too much invasive digging with one of these tools to get any dirt out from under your natural nail could cause the nail plate to separate itself from the skin. It will also work to split and shred the natural nail far too easily which is not a good practice if you’re aiming for healthy nails!
You should also resist using your nails as a tool regardless of how convenient it may be. This includes not using your nails to open a can of soda, for example, as it could cause severe damage to the nail. Even washing your hair or the dishes can cause damage.
If you aren’t gentle with your nails or don’t show your nails the love they deserve, you may wind up getting some sort of infection (fungal or bacterial) in the nail bed or the nail folds.
This is bad enough by itself but it could lead to more serious infections around the body, or might even result in permanent damage to your nails!
2. Clip Your Nails Regularly
Practicing good personal hygiene doesn’t just mean having regular showers and using deodorant every day. It also includes caring for the smaller parts of your body like your toenails and fingernails.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to become an expert at painting your nails with elaborate designs, however. Instead, your focus should be on regularly clipping your nails to keep them balanced and even.
Whether you’re devoted to looking after your nails or not, consistent nail trims are just as crucial for your nails as they are for your hair! However, you will need to clip your nails far more often than you would your hair (roughly once every week or two.)
Your fingernails will typically grow an average of 4 millimeters per month. It’s usually the case that the nails on your dominant hand tend to grow much faster than those on your non-dominant hand simply because you’re using that hand more often.
Yet your toenails grow at a much slower pace of around 2 millimeters per month. As a result of this, you don’t need to worry about trimming your toenails every week and can instead focus on intermittent maintenance.
Clipping your nails regularly is also a great way to keep your nails free from fungal and bacterial infections. This is because dirt and germs can easily accumulate behind long nails. By clipping your nails regularly, you are eliminating the possibility of infections occurring!
When you clip your nails, use sharp manicure scissors or quality clippers. And don’t forget to disinfect your tools before you start! Then, trim your nails straight across, rounding the tips in a gentle curve, for the best results.
3. Prioritize Nail Health Over Length
Growing long fingernails is often seen as a sign of wealth and beauty. Yet having long nails doesn’t necessarily mean your nails are the strongest they could be, nor does it mean they are in the best condition!
If you’re someone who constantly struggles with having weak and brittle nails, prioritizing nail health over length will help you to strengthen your nails. This is because shorter nails are far less prone to breakage as fewer exposed edges may tear.
It’s a known fact that weaker nails struggle to maintain their length. So, if your nails are damaged in any way, it’s in your best interest to keep them as short as you can until the strength returns. If you successfully manage to do this, they’ll grow back faster and will be much stronger!
When you focus on nail health over length, you can easily switch the majority of your focus to filing your nails until they are smooth to prevent snags and breakages. A shorter style with more rounded edges will likely be a lot easier to manage.
As long as each nail is uniform and matches your other nails, trust us, you won’t miss the added length! Plus, short nails in good condition can look just as lovely as long nails!
You can then turn your attention to building nail strength.
4. Protect Your Nails With A Base Coat
Our top piece of advice is to never skip using a base coat when you are painting your nails at home!
Base coats are especially helpful if your nails are a little bit weaker because they provide you with an additional protective barrier from things like breakage and dehydration.
You can think of a base coat like a double-sided tape that is purposefully designed for your nails. Along with different plasticizers that add flexibility, nail base coats contain extra cellulose chemicals that give them the necessary “stick.”
This essential step works to protect your nails from being stained by any colored polish and also gives the color a much better sheen in a single coat.
If you find yourself in a bit of a pinch and need to avoid the base coat altogether, we’d suggest avoiding darker colors and opting for more natural shades on your nails. This could be anything from natural colors to sheer polish that aren’t likely to cause any staining to your nails.
Remember that when you directly apply any pigment to the nail bed, you must use a polish with a long-lasting and high-quality formula.
Just be cautious of base coats that claim to be nail hardeners. These typically contain a higher formaldehyde content and will actively harden your nails which might seem like a good thing at first. However, a little later on, these types of base coats may cause your nails to crack and split a bit easier.
5. Moisturize Your Hands And Nails Regularly
Your nails tend to dry out for many reasons including harsh weather conditions, using the oven, or even over-buffing. There’s one simple solution to all of these problems: moisturize!
If your nails are weak and brittle it is mostly down to the fact that they aren’t receiving enough hydration to grow. And it may not surprise you to find out that flaky and dry nails are more prone to breakage than healthy nails.
Fortunately, this issue can be avoided by keeping your hands moisturized at all times. Applying a hand balm, lotion, or moisturizing cream to the nails and nail bed daily will help to keep them as hydrated as possible.
Ideally, you should apply moisturizer after every time you wash your hands as hand wash and soaps can often leave the skin and nails feeling dry, leading to peeling and brittle nails. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with, it’s perfectly fine to apply it either after waking up or just before bed (or both).
Regularly moisturizing your nails and any surrounding skin with a good hand cream can prevent further damage to the overall integrity of your nails. It also works to actively lock in moisture which helps to protect your nails from lots of future damage.
Adding this vital step into your daily regime is one of the easiest yet most essential tips if you’re aiming to achieve beautiful, healthy, and strong nails.
6. Wear Gloves When Doing Dishes
As we’ve established, brittle and dry nails are a direct result of a lack of moisture — commonly caused by repeated washing and drying of your nails. It might also occur due to increased exposure to detergents, nail polish removers, hand soap, and household cleaners.
If you spend considerable time working in hot water with your bare hands and even the most gentle soap for your skin, you’ll still wind up with frayed cuticles, cracked skin, and frail nails. This truly isn’t a matter of aesthetics and can often leave your hands and nails feeling painful.
When washing the dishes your nails are directly submerged in lots of water and dish soap which makes the nails much softer and more prone to breakage. So, if you’re seeking clean dishes and pretty nails, gloves are most definitely the way to go!
Wearing gloves provides an extra layer of protection between your nails and the stream of hot water as you are cleaning the dishes. Gloves also give you a better grip on the items you are hand washing which is just a bonus.
In summary, if you want to give your nails any sort of fighting chance at remaining strong, healthy, and generally just looking a lot better, your best bet is to wear gloves when you are doing the dishes. Doing so will also protect the longevity and shininess of your manicure!
7. Use UV Nail Gloves To Protect Your Hands When Getting Manicures
Gel-manicured nails are the best part of a trip to the nail salon. They last for weeks, have a beautiful glossy finish, are pretty difficult to chip, and are also super fun to have done.
The key to the longevity of a gel manicure is that the polish is set and cured under some sort of UV light. This involves putting your hands under a domed bright lamp and allowing the new gel polish to cure.
As convenient as this is, there’s no telling how much damage you are doing to the skin around your nails, or your nails themselves, by placing your hands directly under a UV light! This is when you will want to consider wearing a pair of fingerless UV nail gloves.
Sure, they’re not the most stylish accessory ever, but the benefits of wearing them far outweigh the negatives.
It’s been said that wearing gloves during your gel manicure can block around 99.9% of the UV light from the skin surrounding your hands. This is great news for your nails as a stronger nail bed (that has been exposed to far fewer UV rays) will help to keep them in tip-top condition.
So, with everything considered, we’d strongly suggest giving these gloves a chance — especially if you’re a gel manicure enthusiast.
8. File Your Nails Gently
If you have a pretty hands-on fitness routine or your job potentially exposes your nails to damage, you might benefit from keeping a nail file close at hand. This means you can resolve any broken edges or just do some general buffing when it is needed.
Rather than sticking to the classic emery board, you should opt for a soft nail file or a glass nail file. A soft file is a lot gentler on your nails and will limit the amount of breakage and nail weakening that occurs.
Glass nail files are aesthetically pleasing, easy to clean, durable, and are also far less likely to cause the nails to snag or peel. Essentially, a glass nail file will create a much gentler nail filing experience, resulting in healthier nails.
The act of filing your nails may look simple but there is a bit of a knack to it to prevent nail bed scarring. Here is the best way to properly file your nails:
- File them in one direction that goes with the grain of your nail. This will help you to achieve the smoothest finish possible as filing your nails using a back-and-forth motion may weaken your nails further. Be gentle with the sides of your nails to prevent any further nail breakage.
- Start from the outer edge of your nail and then work your way inwards towards the center of your nail. You’ll get much smoother edges by adopting this method.
- Control your movements using the above advice and then continue shaping your nails the way that you’d like.
9. Never Scrape Your Nail Polish
If you are in the habit of scraping off your nail polish when you get bored of it, we’re here to tell you to immediately stop what you’re doing!
Even if the polish is chipping off by itself and looks like a mess, you should stick to using the proper tools to do the job for you instead of scraping it off. We’ll discuss this below.
Generally speaking, peeling off any flaking nail enamel along with the polish you had been wearing can prove to be very damaging to the nail. This is because you are actively removing layers of your nail along with the color.
When you actively scrape your nail paint off, it essentially strips a layer of your nail away which detracts from the overall shine of your natural nails. This will leave your nails in a much worse condition than they would otherwise have been.
It’s also in your best interest to never use a metal nail tool to scrape your cuticles back or attempt to scrape your nail polish off. Not only is this an unsanitary practice but it will also scrape off the protective surface layer of your nails! This could completely ruin the way that your nails look.
Simply put, you should avoid scraping off your nail paint and instead remove it using a nail polish remover. We’d recommend opting for an acetone-free version to preserve your nails as best you can. You can buy these at any local drugstore.
Apply your polish remover to a pad or a cotton ball and place it onto your nail. Allow it to sit for around 10 seconds and then gently rub it back and forth over the nail to completely remove the polish.
10. Try Gel-Look Nail Polish That Don’t Require UV Light To Cure
Everyone loves a nice gel manicure from time to time. It’s a pretty fun and unique process as gel polish is cured rather than dried, taking anywhere from one to three minutes to complete under the direct rays of an LED or a UV light.
Yet the overall cost of this manicurecan quickly add up. Factor in the trouble of later removing the polish and the amount of time it will take to finish and it’s pretty easy to see why so many people are opting for alternative nail treatments!
Curing gel nail polish can be challenging if you don’t have access to, or don’t want to use, a UV light. Fortunately, if this is the case, there are a few alternative methods you can consider such as using a gel-look (or gel-effect) polish.
Gel-like nail polish is the perfect hybrid of regular and gel polish. It’s generally formulated to last anywhere up to 10 or 14 days (much like a salon gel manicure) and has a glossy, high-shine finish that looks elegant and powerful.
These polishes go on like normal and don’t require UV or LED lights to cure. You may need to apply an accompanying coat to cure the polish but we’d advise checking this when you purchase your product! You can pick these polishes up in just about any drugstore.
11. Use A Nail Hardener
Watching helplessly as your nails begin to chip immediately after leaving the nail salon can be extremely disheartening. If this occurs, you may be tempted to try and fix the mistake by yourself with the tools that you have on hand.
Unfortunately, this may leave your nails in a worse condition than they were before. In this instance, you’re leaving your nails far more vulnerable to breaking or splitting.
As we’ve established in this article, there are quite a few different products that you should avoid putting on your nails to keep them looking their best. Yet there’s one thing you should apply, especially between manicures, and that is a quality nail hardener.
These specially formulated polishes are designed to strengthen and protect weaker nails from extreme damage. They’re also pretty versatile as they can be used as a strong top coat on your usual nail polish to ensure it lasts a little bit longer!
A nail hardener treatment is rich in proteins that actively encourage healthy nail growth. It works by reacting with the natural proteins present in your nails to create strong chemical bonds. These will eventually help your nails become more resistant to breakages.
The fastest way to stop your nails from becoming soft and weak due to breakage is to apply a nail hardener at least once or twice a week. This will not only save your vulnerable nails but also gives them a high-shine finish!
You can wear nail hardener on your nails by itself or in conjunction with your favorite color of nail polish.
12. Don’t Overdo The Hand Sanitizer
There’s no better feeling than having clean hands and staying on top of basic personal hygiene practices. Yet sometimes, you might go a little overboard. Unfortunately, this could be catastrophic for your nails!
If you’re wondering what we’re talking about, we’re referring to the overuse of hand soap and hand sanitizer, but especially the latter. These types of products are designed to keep your hands clean but are not made for consistent repeated use.
Hand sanitizers are generally alcohol-based. This means that constant reapplication can result in super dry and brittle nails — a far cry from the healthy and strong nails you desire.
Remember, nails require some sort of moisture to stay strong. Pure alcohol in any type of hand sanitizer will remove this moisture and leave nails more susceptible to breakage, resulting in unwanted brittleness.
Overdoing the hand sanitizer may even crack your cuticles and cause permanent damage to the nail bed over time unless you are prone to slathering on your favorite hand and nail moisturizer after washing to keep things balanced.
If you can’t curb your habit of overdoing hand sanitizer, our solution would be to shop around for an alcohol-free alternative. This will be just as effective yet won’t cause any excessive damage to your nails or the surrounding skin.
You can also opt for hand sanitizer wipes to do the same job. These make it much easier to avoid the immediate nail area upon application.
13. Use Cuticle Oil Regularly
The cuticle is the clear layer of skin that can be found at the bottom edge of the nail bed. The cuticle plays a very important role as it essentially seals the base of the nail and protects new nails against bacteria when they grow from the root of the nail.
This means it’s never a good idea to remove or cut the cuticle as it can eliminate the much-needed layer of protection and leave your nails extremely vulnerable to infection and tears.
As the area around your cuticles is so delicate, it’s not uncommon to see cuticles peeling or cracking. Fortunately, taking proper care of your cuticles will work to minimize both of these things without you needing to do a lot of work.
We’d recommend pushing your cuticles back once a week after you shower (when your skin is at its softest) using a specialized wooden stick. Then, go on to massage your nails and cuticles with special cuticle oil to ensure that they remain in the best possible condition.
Cuticle oil is an effective method of repairing, nourishing, and providing moisture to weaker nails. Though these are excellent qualities, cuticle oil also has many other amazing properties that you must know about.
Applying cuticle oil can increase circulation around your nails to stimulate nail growth, protect the cuticle from trauma, and improve the overall appearance of your nails. As a result, you must incorporate cuticle oil as part of your regular nail care routine!
14. Eat More Foods That Promote Strong Nails
Getting great-looking nails starts way before you break out the nail polish. In fact, you can take your first steps to improve the way your nails look simply by consuming the right type of foods.
Your best bet to ensure beautiful, healthy, and strong nails will be to load up on as much protein and nutrient-rich food as you possibly can. This includes things like:
- Healthy fats such as coconut oil
By regularly incorporating these foods into your regular diet, you’re already taking the necessary steps to begin nourishing your body and supporting your beauty and wellness aims from the inside out!
Along these lines, we’d strongly recommend avoiding yo-yo dieting whenever possible. Though this might be an effective tool if you’re looking to lose weight in the short term, it could lead to many vitamin deficiencies that may decrease the strength of your nails.
You should also make sure to stay hydrated at all times. It might be a bit obvious but every single cell in your body needs water to thrive, including those present in your nails.
Making sure that you regularly drink water is an easy way of guaranteeing your cuticles and nails are receiving necessary hydration, a critical factor for healthy and strong growth!
15. Avoid Nail Fungus By Drying Your Nails Properly
Now we’ve reached our last tip for beautiful, healthy, and strong nails: learning how to properly dry your nails.
We know, it sounds like an extremely simple practice in theory. Yet you may be surprised to find out that ensuring your nails are completely dry can often be a more difficult task! This is especially true if you are wearing acrylic nails.
Acrylic nails are directly attached to your real nails using a strong adhesive. If they aren’t put on properly or end up becoming loose, there is a huge chance that moisture will be trapped between the acrylics and your real nails.
Fungi tend to thrive in these types of moist environments and might start to grow around the trapped water. This is a dark and moist environment that makes for the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of fungi.
The same premise applies to normal nails. Here, infections will start as white or yellow spots at the tip of the nail and work their way to the nail bed.
If you want to avoid nail fungus, the trick is to make sure your nails are properly dry. You can try using a blow dryer when getting out of the bath, swimming pool, or shower to effectively prevent toenail (and fingernail) fungus.
Avoid using a towel or leaving your feet to air dry as you’re giving the fungi plenty of time to form, and increasing the risk of picking up fungal spores!
After reading this article, we hope you now understand how to properly care for your nails to ensure they are beautiful, healthy, and strong.
Well-cared-for nails are a reflection of the amount of self-care that you dedicate to yourself. So, by putting these 15 tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to achieving the healthy nails of your dreams in no time at all!