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.
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?