13 Tips to Get Healthy, Gorgeous Nails
From what to eat for beautiful nails to how to file them to perfection.
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Keep nail beds hydrated
“Moisturizing your cuticles is the most important aspect of any cuticle care regimen,” says Jin Soon Choi, founder of Jin Soon Hand & Foot Spa in New York City. To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry. Keep a jar in your purse, desk drawer, car—anywhere you might need it. Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It’s thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles. Or head to your kitchen cupboard and grab the olive oil—it also works to moisturize your nails. Eat these foods for prettier nails.
Protect nails from wear and tear
Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash dishes, Choi advises. Most household chores, from gardening to scrubbing the bathroom to washing dishes, are murderous on healthy nails. For extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the rubber gloves. Slipping on some gloves will also protect your manicure.
Treat cuticles gently
“Avoid cutting the main cuticle to whatever extent possible because the cuticle serves as the main barrier that protects the skin and nail intersection, Choi advises. “If that gets undermined, it can cause pain and worse, infection.” She suggests gently and gradually pushing back the cuticle and carefully snipping away any hang nails. “When you cut the cuticle it’s going to peel off two or three days later which will hurt.”
Avoid ingrown nails
iStock/Manuel Faba Ortega
“When giving yourself an at-home pedicure, only push the cuticles back and cut your toenails square—both prevent ingrown toenails,” says Emily Splichal, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City. This is particularly important if you have diabetes—and so are these other tips.
Keep hands dry
Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes, taking a bath or shower. Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering. Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection and ruins healthy nails. Keeping your nails dry is just one of the easy ways to make your nails stronger.
Get shoes in top shape
Air out your work boots and athletic shoes. Better yet, keep two pairs and switch between them so you never put your feet into damp, sweaty shoes. These tips can help make your shoes last longer.
Find high-quality socks
Look for socks that include copper or silver woven into them, Dr. Splichal suggests. Both metals provide antimicrobial qualities that will help prevent foot odor and fungus.
Make your manicure last longer
Stretch out the beauty of a manicure by applying a fresh top coat every day, says Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia, and author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful.
It’s great for healthy nails! “Calcium isn’t just important for healthy bones. It’s also essential for healthy nails,” says Rima Kleiner, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, dark, leafy greens and fortified orange juice.” Kleiner says it’s also important to ensure you aren’t deficient in protein or the B vitamin biotin, key elements for nail growth. “Nails are made of protein and biotin is essential because it helps your body metabolize food into amino acids that help with nail growth,” she explains.
File your nails correctly
Use a fine-grade file and move in one direction, lifting the nail file on each pass is the best way to prevent damage or breakage, Choi says. Filing with a rough grit is going to cause breakage, especially if you move in a back-and-forth motion, she explains.
Keep ’em polished
Polish your nails, even if it’s just with a clear coat. It protects your nails, says Mariana Diaconescu, manicurist in New York City. If you prefer color, use a base coat, two thin coats of color, and a top coat. Color should last at least seven days but should be removed after 10 days. Before your next manicure, find out what your nail polish color says about you.
Avoid these polish remover ingredients
iStock/© Grata Victoria
Avoid polish removers with acetone or formaldehyde. They’re terribly drying to nails, says Andrea Lynn Cambio, MD, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida. Use acetate-based removers instead. While you’re removing polish, check for signs of diseases your hands can predict.
Excerpted from the book Stealth Health.
- Jin Soon Choi, founder of Jin Soon Hand & Foot Spa in New York City.
- Emily Splichal, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City.
- Rima Kleiner, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in Greensboro, North Carolina.
- Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia, and author of Hello Beautiful: 365 Ways to Be Even More Beautiful.
- Andrea Lynn Cambio, MD, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida.