Nails take lots of abuse and wear-and-tear from daily tasks. We use them to open, pry and scratch. We expose them to chemicals and detergents. So it’s no surprise when our polish chips, or worse, our nails become weak and damaged. Fortunately, you can protect your nails and boost their health. Here’s how, along with step-by-step tips on creating a pretty and polished manicure, so you’ll always want your dashing digits on display!
Nail health and growth
Nails are made up of keratin proteins. Typically, they grow “an eighth of an inch per month,” writes Michele Bender in Good Housekeeping. However, hormonal fluctuations, temperature or seasonal changes, diet, age and nail trauma or infection can influence this rate
Also, people’s nails grow at different rates, according to nail specialist and New York University dermatology professor Paul Kechijian, M.D. And there’s no way you can make nails grow longer or faster.
Medical conditions can also affect nail health and appearance. For example, thin nails, ridges and changes in nail color could be signs of iron deficiency. Heart conditions may result in reddish nails. Thyroid problems can cause nails to become dry and brittle. Lung, kidney, liver or other conditions can also lead to changes in nail color and texture, reports Sherry Rauh in Redbook.
However, not everyone with these health problems will develop nail symptoms, and usually other non-nail symptoms will show up first. On the other hand, having nail problems doesn’t necessarily mean that you have one of these diseases, according to Christine Laine, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Physicians.
Proper care for strong, healthy nails
Protecting your nails from dehydration and keeping them moisturized are crucial. In fact, many nail problems — dullness, roughness, weakness, softness, splitting and peeling — result from dryness and dehydration. Moisturizing creams, oils or vitamin E capsules restore hydration, so nails become strong and healthy.
Also, be sure to moisturize and care for your cuticles (the skin surrounding the edge of your nail bed). Cuticles are the starting point from which new nails grow. “If the cuticle is supple, the new cells can push through more easily, so they arrive at the nail bed in the best of health,” explains Helen Foster in The Beauty Book.
soaking your hands in water — especially hot water — will suck out natural moisture from your skin and nails. Harsh cleaners and detergents make the problem even worse. The result? Rough skin and weak nails.
To protect your hands, nails and cuticles, always wear rubber gloves when cleaning or washing dishes.
the last tip — don’t use your nails to open, scratch, peel or pick at objects. This weakens them and makes them more prone to breakage.