Nails are not only objects of beauty and style, but also external indicators of internal health. The hands and fingers being the main tools for doing things, the nails get maximum exposure to wear and tear, the elements, and accidents. Here are eight simple steps and precautions you can take in order to have strong and fabulous nails.
1. Adopt a nail-healthy diet
Nails are an accurate reflection of our inner state of health. Brittle or flaky nails are usually a sign of some deficiency in your overall health. Make sure you are getting enough of proteins, minerals and vitamins in your diet. An easy way to do this is to throw in a glass of milk, an egg, and one helping of seasonal fruit into your daily diet. Drinking up to eight glasses of water will also ensure that you receive adequate internal hydration to keep the nails looking happy.
2. Keep your nails hydrated and moisturized
Nails are made up of keratin, the same protein that is present in your skin and hair, and just as skin and hair look dull and lifeless when deprived of internal moisture, your nails too will look lackluster and unhealthy if you do not keep them adequately hydrated. In addition to ensuring that you are drinking enough water on a daily basis, you can also use the specialized nail and cuticle moisturizers that are commercially available, or you can apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to your nails and cuticles after you have moisturized your hands and feet at night before going to bed. Olive oil and castor oil are equally good substitutes for the commercial moisturizers.
3. Go heavy on the top coat
You can keep your nails looking good and your nail polish or manicure lasting longer, by applying a fresh top coat every day. The best technique for applying nail protection is to apply a base coat, followed by two coats of colored nail polish, and then a top coat. Reapply fresh top coat daily, and color coat once a week. This extra layer of protection will prevent your nails form chipping or breaking easily, as well as will prevent undue dehydration.
4. Go easy on the nail polish remover
Ensure that the nail polish remover that you are using does not contain acetone or formaldehyde as these tend to strop all the moisture from the nails and cuticles, leaving them ugly and brittle and prone to damage. Apply small amount of remover, and use the friction of the swab to remove the bulk of the polish, using additional remover only for difficult to reach corners and crevices. Always use moisturizer on your hands and nails after you have used remover.
5. File your nails the right way
Periodically file your nails in an uniform manner to give them the shape and form that you desire. Always file in the same direction using the nail file like a brush, rather than going back and forth with your file like a saw. This will prevent uneven and jagged edges from developing as the nail grows back. Do not file your nails when they are damp, since this can lead to unwanted breakage of the nails.
6. Buff your nails after filing
Always buff your nails with a nail buffer after you file them. This extra massage to your nails will improve the circulation to the root of your nails and keep them glowing and healthy.
7. Protect your nails from damage
Avoid exposing your nails to conditions that can damage them. Always dry your hands and feet thoroughly after a shower, after doing dishes, or after you have been out in the water before you glove up or pull your socks and shoes on. This will prevent fungal infections. Wear gloves when working with household cleaners, detergent or other strong chemicals. If you cannot wear gloves when you are doing any kind of activity that may put a strain on your fingers, such as gardening, or opening jars and bottle tops, ensure that you donât use your nails for leverage. Wear cotton socks for your feet, as they will absorb any moisture or sweat that comes from wearing closed footwear.
8. Add a biotin supplement to your diet
Biotin is a B vitamin that has been proven to contribute to healthy nail growth. Studies have established that two out of three people who take a daily biotin supplement experience improved nail health.