How to … care for your nails at home

Follow our step-by-step guide for a professional manicure without leaving home.

How to … care for your nails at home

Nail care can be time-consuming – and expensive if you head out for a regular manicure. Here is a step-by-step guide to keep your nails healthy and well cared for at home.

  • Soak your nails in warm water to clean and soften them, especially if you are one of the lucky ones with strong nails.
  • Trim them with scissors or a nail-cutter and then shape with an emery board – working in one direction only. A shorter style with a rounded edge is easier to manage.
  • Massage in some hand and nail cream, working it into the cuticles and surrounding skin. Use a cuticle oil if your nails are brittle. Now push back the cuticles.
  • Always use a base coat for best results. This protects the nail from being stained by the polish and helps to give good coverage with just the first coat.
  • After the second coat of colour, finish off with a top coat. This seals in the colour and adds a beautiful gloss finish.

Also …
Carry an emery board at all times to get rid of those rough edges without being tempted to pick or chew.

Disinfect your nail tools between uses to remove any bacteria, and replace disposable items regularly.

Give your nails a break from colour from time to time so as not to weaken the structure of the nail.

Eat red meats, fish, soy products (such as tofu), beans, nuts and lentils to help strengthen your nails – and your body.

Wear gloves when you’re using detergents and strong cleaners or gardening. Once the damage is done, it can be a long road back to acceptable nails.

If you do opt for the occasional acrylic or gel manicure, remember they can be hard on the nail. The main issue with a gel manicure is the exposure to UV light in the drying device, which can damage the skin below and around the nail, leading to an increased risk of cancer. To help reduce that risk, dermatologist Dr Janet Prystowky recommends applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 before the procedure to help block the damage. Or you can try special gloves that expose only the nails themselves, shielding the rest of your hands from the harmful UV rays.

Finally, read the labels on your nail products. Just as with makeup and skincare, not all nail polish brands are created equal, so make sure you're buying or using a good product. Dermatologists advise us to steer clear of polishes containing toxic chemicals such dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene, as they can contribute to brittleness, splitting and cracking.

Do you take care of your nails? Do you have any tips?



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    29th Jul 2018
    Twice I have had my nails cut and shaped (without colouring) at a nail shop. This was done at different salons. Each time I couldn't believe how rough the filing was. I always knew filing should be done in one direction. Well, these people filed backwards and forwards so hard I thought my nails would be damaged. Never again!!
    29th Jul 2018
    I have never once had my nails done at a salon and never will why pay so much money for WHAT -- I do my nails at home always have -- I have always been very particular with my hands and nails -- and always keep them well cared for and manicured and always wear gloves for washing up/cleaning or gardening
    29th Jul 2018
    Any tips? I sure have! One of the WORST things you can do with your nails ( on your hands) is to soak them in hot soapy water!!!Let me explain:to grow reasonably strong healthy nails , you have some things to remember. NOURISH & PROTECT!
    To push the cuticles back, do NOT use any hard implement.....pushing them back with your towel every day, after they’ve been softened in the shower, is ENOUGH! Throw away all your metal and emery board nail files. FAR too harsh! Invest in the latest crystal nail file....comes with a cover....Manicare make them, about $16.
    Now, NOURISH your Naples with almond oil, or Bio oil.....rub a tiny amount in before bed.
    PROTECT: Sally Hanson’s ‘ Seven in one’ is really effective! Can also be used as a nail polish base! Now, filing: DON’T saw back and forth.....and DON’T file into the corners, removing the nail’s support! Rest the file at an oblique angle to the cushion of the finger, and gently file IN ONE DIRECTION! Base coat, 2 coats of colour, and a top coat....allow to dry for at least an hour....I would advise that you become your OWN manicurist.....the popular nail salons everywhere do NOT care about the gradually lessening condition of your nails.....only profit!
    29th Jul 2018
    Excellent, Blondie. I agree with everything you say. I will never go near a nail salon again. I have always done my own nails and they are very strong. In a weak moment (twice actually) I tried a salon. Much too rough!!
    29th Jul 2018
    Should be ‘ nourish your nails’, NOT Naples!
    30th Jul 2018
    PLUS these nail salons are very unclean and unhygienic
    1st Aug 2018
    Have no idea how most of my friends & people (female) I know spend so much money on getting nails done, hair done (colour, cut, straightening etc- I'm lucky to get a hair cut once every 6months as it is so expensive now!), massages, facials, waxing (of all kinds) false eyelashes & the list goes on ... HOW THE HECK DOES ANYONE AFFORD ALL OF THIS STUFF???

    I earn good money working (thank goodness) but there is no way I have enough change/spare money for all of this stuff. They seem to still afford holidays & new clothes, tattoos & much more as well. What am I doing wrong? (No rich hubby, just me, no inheritance & prob wont get one, no tatts tickets- can't afford it or pokies, alcohol very rarely-like once or twice per year, no smoking (yuk), no cheap rent/free housing- I have a mortgage) One day I will not be able to work (& dont want to now, but how the heck am I gonna be able to pay the bills then, but at least hopefully I'll have a roof over my head that's paid for when I'm approx 60yo (don't know if others will have the same), but I guess I'm doing ok & have my health at least (well sort of - mental health is declining rapidly from lack of sleep/working nightshifts, stress, etc! Even if I was quite wealthy I don't think I'd be one for wasting money on nail salons, beauty salons/treatments, hairdressing, etc etc. But I will be spending it on travel (Australia only, can't afford overseas)- now that is not a waste of money...Adventure before Dementia !! :)
    1st Aug 2018
    Cheez I am with you 100% -- and even if I had the money there is
    NO way I would NOT be wasting it on such things --
    I am far too practical but have a few Friends that spend a fortune on such rubbish PLUS the wear a HEAP of jewellery -- I am afraid I wear not one bit and they don't look any better than I do --

    I like you have a haircut about every 6 months and no blow dry either just say cut and go.

    When I was told what it all costs I was stunned!
    13th Jun 2019
    One good thing that does strengthen your nails is Jelly -- -- also not hard to eat with some yum ice cream either

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