There’s more to having great nails than just a well done manicure. How you treat your hands can make a world of difference between lust-worthy nails and ones you want to hide year round. While nail health is partially genetic–you can’t always eat your way to strong nails–there are basic nail care tips you can follow to get your mitts in tip top shape.
Like our faces, our hands are affected by the elements and can tell our age when not cared for properly. That means that moisturizing daily will help maintain youthful, supple skin. It also means that applying an SPF is of the utmost importance to prevent age spots. Along with your hands, your cuticles need hydration as well. This can be done with hand lotion or by dabbing a cuticle butter like Lush Lemony Flutter or oil around the nails to prevent brittleness and ensure nail protection (goodbye hang nails). I tend to do this regularly to keep this skin from over drying. Oil pens like The Body Shop Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil are great for on-the-go maintenance. Believe it or not, healthy cuticles will make the polishing process so much easier – leaving you with a flawless manicure if they’re well maintained.
When you’re prepping your nails for an at-home manicure, or just fixing a broken bare nail, the way you file your tips can lead to a smooth edges or jagged ends. If you’re trying to keep your nails short or want to file off a lot of length, you can use clippers or a 180 grit file to do the trick. When it comes to snags and cleaning up your edges filing with too much grit, and in a back and forth motion, can ruin your tips. Instead use a fine grit file–something like 240 grit–and file in one direction, not in a sawing motion. If you struggle with weak nails, you’ll likely want to use an even finer file and keep your tips on the shorter side to prevent breakage and flaking.
Part of the reason you want nourished cuticles is because when cleaning up your nail beds, you want to be able to push your cuticles back with an orange stick instead of cutting them away. Cutting can lead to more snags and infections if the nail bed isn’t completely clean. Wiping the nail bed with nail polish remover should be done whenever you plan on polishing to remove residue and diminish the chance for bubbles on the nail. It’s tempting to use straight acetone to do this, but try sticking with a hydrating remover like OPI Expert Touch Remover to further prevent over-drying of the skin.
No matter the thickness of your nails it’s a good idea to wear a strengthener from time to time. Even if you’re going polish-free, a nail strengthener will preserve length, shape and whiteness. There are various formulas out there, and ones you can even use as your base coat if you do decide to polish. A strengthener encourages growth, but also hardens your tips with wheat protein and calcium. You don’t always need to wear one, but if you use your hands a lot and are trying to grow your nails it will work wonders on your tips. Once clean and cut you’re ready to polish your nails–but only once you know the proper do’s and dont’s.