Nail Care: 18 Tips to Get Strong and Healthy Nails

Whether you are the type who spends big money and just as many hours on manicures and nail care products, or you are the kind of person who simply lets them go natural you still want strong and healthy nails. At a minimum, we all want them to feel and look healthy. Why go to all the expense of a great manicure if you are not taking care of your nails at home. Getting strong and healthy nails are the secret to great looking nails.

Biting, picking, and just wear and tear can make our nails look rough. Some of us struggle just to keep them from peeling and chipping. And if you do spend the money and time on a nice manicure, you will need to know the best methods for preserving that beautiful polish and shine.

Sings of strong and healthy nails include:

  • Pinkish-white color in your nail plates
  • Presence of cuticles
  • Even white tips
  • A pronounce half-moon shape white section (lunula) at the nail base

Sings of unhealthy nails include:

  • Peeling and splitting nails as a result of dryness. This can also be a sign of a vitamin deficiency
  • White spots from biting or painting them too much
  • Horizontal grooves from stress
  • Red swollen skin around the nails as a result of biting or cutting cuticles
  • Spoon shaped nails are a sign of anemia

There are a few sings of unhealthy nails that should be looked at by a doctor since they are symptoms of larger problems.

These include:

  • Changes in the shape of your nails
  • Discoloration such as dark or white streaks
  • Changes in thickness
  • Brittle or pitted nails
  • Redness surrounding the nails
  • Pain or bleeding around the nails
  • Nails that are separating from the skin

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This guide will help you identify problem areas with your nails. We will also offer you some concrete ways to keep your nails healthy and strong.

Keep your hands clean

This sounds obvious, but it is the most important thing for maintaining healthy and strong nails. In order to be extremely careful use a non-acetone polish remover to make sure you remove all vestiges of polish. You can apply a gentle soap to a toothbrush to remove any bits of dirt that may remain hidden.

Treat your nails gently

Nails are quite delicate. Scrubbing with abrasive cleansers and scarping underneath the nail can do serious damage. Digging underneath the nail and using chemical nail polish removers can lead to a condition called onycholysis in which the nail separates from the skin.

Trim your nails regularly

Keeping them well trimmed to essential to nail health. Trim your nails about every two weeks to keep them from getting too long. If you don’t, they become prone to treating and breaking. Long nails are glamorous, but they are not the most healthy way to keep your nails. If you learn to keep them trimmed to a uniform length, you will not miss long brittle nails.

Keep a nail file with you at all times

If you have a physically demanding job, or if you frequently work out at the gym, you are prone to chipping and breaking your nails. Keep a nail file with you to take care of these minor chips and tears. This prevents more serious tearing. Work with the grain of your nail in one direction. Do not use an emery board. If you want to take extra care, invest in a crystal nail file. These are made of glass and will give you the most precise edge on your nails.

Maintain your nail tools

We can easily forget about this. After all, we are the only one who uses them. But it is important to clean and disinfect your manicure tools frequently. Anything that makes contact with our bodies and the outside world is prone to exposure to bacteria. By cleaning and disinfecting these tools, we ward off the anger of infections that not only damage our nails but are also painful.

Leave your cuticles alone

The cuticle forms the seal at the base of your nails. When you tear or cut the cuticle you open this seal and make yourself vulnerable to infection. If you feel you must maintain your cuticles, use a cuticle pusher to gently push them back. Do this after you get out of the shower. Follow up by treating your cuticles with quality cuticle oil.

Protect with a base coat.

Painting your nails is only one part of overall protection. I solid base coat provides an even base for polish, and it protects the natural nail beds. If you want to go the extra mile, use a clear gloss between the base coat and polish for extra shine.

Pay attention to product labels.

Read the labels of nail polish brands. Some are better than others, and some contain toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. Not only are they toxic, but the short-term damage can be brittle nails. There are many high-quality nail polish manufacturers now who do not use toxic chemicals in their polishes.

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Topcoats prevent chipping

You may be tempted to skip this step after applying a high-end polish that has a brilliant luster and shine. However, the topcoat is a crucial step. Do not skimp on this. Topcoats prevent chipping and breakage. Beyond the obvious benefit of protecting your polish and your nails, it will prevent you from becoming tempted to start picking at chipped nails and that can cause even more damage.

Do not over-indulge in acrylics and gel nail manicures

Yes, acrylic and gel nails are fun, and they look fantastic. But they also take a toll over the long-haul. The benefit of long-lasting gel nails and acrylics has a cost. The drying process under UV light with gel nails, in particular, will damage the skin around the nail. There is also a risk of skin cancer from long-term exposure to UV light. You can reduce this risk by apply sunscreen to the skin around your nails. Use a minimum SPF 30 for proper protection.

Avoid full nail extensions

Full extensions are widely considered to be bad for your nails. They can lead to fungal and bacterial infections, and these can cause permanent damage to your natural nails. Tip extensions are preferred by professionals and by dermatologists, but all of them can be potentially damaging.

Use nail hardeners sparingly

Healthy nails are supposed to be flexible. Nail hardeners make them rigid, inflexible, and prone to breaking. What is more, none of these products have any science behind them to prove that they are effective. If your nails are too soft, try taking biotin supplements to build natural strength.

Try biotin supplements

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that can help strengthen your nails. It takes some time for biotin to work, so allow about 4 months before seeing results. Biotin supplements are available in just about any health food store. You can also try eating biotin-rich foods like salmon, peanuts, swiss chard, and eggs.

Take some time between manicures

Let your nails go natural for a while. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from painting your nails, and your nails will thank you for the breath of fresh air. Certainly, take time off from high gloss and elaborate manicures. It is best to let those things be a weekend indulgence. By letting your nails just be in their natural state they can naturally regrow and gain strength. Remember that nail polish removers stress your natural nails as much as nail polish. By taking time off from painting your nails, you also avoid removing nail polish.

Moisturize!

Moisturizing your nails and cuticles is just as important as moisturizing your face. Your nails, cuticles and the surrounding skin need to be revitalized regularly. Use nutrient-rich oils like avocado and almond oils. You can even apply a good quality lip balm if you do not have anything else.

Protect your hand when doing dishes, gardening, and other household chores

Something as simple as doing the dishes at home can leave your nails frail and vulnerable. Hot soapy water makes nails soft and prone to breaking. Gardening and deep cleaning can get your nails dirty enough to require cleaning that can damage your nails. Use gloves when doing any of these ordinary jobs. Make sure you get gloves with a cotton liner for added protection.

Get plenty of protein in your diet

Nails are made of a protein called keratin. In order for your body to make this protein, you need to feed your body a steady diet of proteins. This just makes sense. Make sure you eat plenty of fish, beans, and nuts as healthy protein sources. These also include essential amino acids that help with protein synthesis in your body. You can augment these proteins with other nutrients like biotin, Vitamin E, and fish oil.

Don’t use your nails as tools

It feels completely natural and automatic to pry open a can lid or rip open some mail with your fingernails. Just break this habit for the sake of healthy nails. Even minor stress from these kinds of actions can lead to damage to your nails. Get in the habit of using the right tools—pliers, scissors, a knife—to do the little jobs around the house. Save your nails the undo stress.

Maintaining strong and healthy nails is mostly a matter of common sense. We all know to protect our nails from things like dishwater and physical strain. But too many of us simply ignore these common facts in the heat of getting things done.

Another factor for maintaining healthy and strong nails is to pay attention to nutrition. This too is a matter of good sense, but it is another thing that gets pushed aside as our lives get busy and we have recourse to simple and easy over healthy. Protein-rich foods and biotin-rich foods are great for your nails, but they are also good for your whole body.

Much of what is contained in this guide can be covered by a simple trip to the grocery store to stock up on the correct tools for maintaining your nails and the right nail care products. Remember, check the product labels of nail polishes and nail polish removers. It is easy to avoid the toxic chemical contained in some of the cheaper products. There are entire lines of all-natural polishes and removers available these days.

Finally, treat your nails like you treat your skin. When you moisturize at night or over the course of the day, pay just as much attention to your hands, nails, and cuticles. Use quality products for your skin and nails.

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