There’s nothing better than having strong, healthy-looking, evenly cut, and delicately painted nails. But for many of us, our nails never seem to look as good as we would like them to. There are, in fact, a number of nuances you need to be aware of if you want to keep them in good condition all the time.
Here are 16 tips that will help make your nails look gorgeous every day.
Always have an emery board on hand
If you’re someone whose work or gym routine causes a lot of wear and tear, keep a nail file handy to smooth away any rough edges that happen on the spot. Work in one direction with the grain of your nail for a smoother finish.
Keep your hands very clean
First of all, it’s important to make sure your nails and the skin around them are thoroughly free of dirt. Then remove all traces of your last color with an acetone-free remover. One great method involves applying soap to a toothbrush, then gently scrubbing your nails and skin. This will remove dirt and exfoliate any dead skin without the need for harsh, drying chemicals or expensive scrubs.
Keep your nails dry
This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails. Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to split fingernails.
Always be gentle
Your nails are delicate, and scrubbing them too roughly can actually expose you to infection. Avoid using metal nail tools under the nail, as too much digging under the nail plate will cause it to separate from the skin, leading to an irregular white arching nail tip.
Always apply a base coat
Painting your nails at home is no excuse to cut corners by skipping the base coat. 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. You can also add a coat of clear gloss between each layer to add extra shine and protection.
Protect your hands
Whenever you’re cleaning with harsh chemicals, gardening, or doing anything that involves soaking or dirtying your hands, wear rubber, vinyl, nitrile, or plastic gloves, preferably with a cotton liner. Cleaning dishes in hot soapy water without gloves can weaken the nails, while getting them caked with dirt from gardening will require a much greater level of cleaning. When the weather’s cold, wear a pair of mittens or gloves so that the cold air and wind don’t leave you with dry, flaky, scaly skin.
Give your nails a break
It’s always a good idea to give your nails time to rest and repair with a simple clear gloss. Going from one strong polish color to another without giving your nails a break can dry them out, turn them yellow, and, over time, even weaken the structure of the nail.
You wouldn’t go to sleep without moisturizing your face, so why should your nails be any different? Try using a mix of almond and avocado oils to keep cuticles and nails hydrated while you’re asleep. In fact, any nutrient-rich oil or moisturizer will do. In a pinch, you can even use a dab of lip balm.
Regular trims are as important to your nails as they are to your hair. Set aside time to clip them every two weeks, adjusting to more or less often once you see how your nails respond. Use sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve.
Consider your diet
Your fingernails are made of a protein called keratin, so you can improve your nails by tweaking your diet. Add vitamins and supplements like biotin, Vitamin E, and fish oil to your daily regimen, as well as protein-rich foods like beans, fish, and nuts. Once you hit on the combination that works for you, you’ll be rewarded with stronger and clearer nails.
Ask your doctor about biotin
Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.
Take care of your tools
Disinfecting your nail tools between uses is just as important as regularly cleaning your makeup brushes, and it’s for the same reason: keeping bacteria away. To keep your nails happy and infection free, wash metal tools with soap and water and then wipe with rubbing alcohol. Also, regularly replace disposable tools like emery boards.
Read the labels
Not all nail polish brands are created equal, so make sure you’re buying or using a good product. Steer clear of polishes containing toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene, as these toxins can contribute to brittleness, splitting, and cracking.
Seal the deal with a top coat
The top coat seals in the polish’s color and adds a much-needed gloss finish to your digits. Try adding another top coat layer every three days to decrease chipping, so you’ll get the most out of your manicure.
Value health over length
Long nails are beautiful, but if you’ve struggled with snags or breakage, keep your nails short — at least to start out with. A shorter style with a rounded edge tends to be easier to manage and looks neater, so you can focus on building strength without worrying about anything else.
Don’t cut your cuticles
The cuticle has a very important purpose to serve: it seals the area at the base of the nail. When you cut or remove the cuticle, it breaks that seal of protection, leaving you vulnerable to bacteria and the possibility of infection. The better you are at leaving cuticles alone, the more your nails will thank you.