Life is not perfect but your nails can be!

Neglecting toes and fingernails will come at a price. Nails are composed of a laminated layer of protein called Keratin-the same stuff in hair, that grows from the area at the base of the nail under the cuticle. Keratin protects nails by keeping them strong and resilient, preventing them from damage.

It is safe to say that keeping nails in tip-top shape is a worthwhile investment. Below is a guide on how to properly care for nails

DO: Keep nails dry and clean

Practicing good nail hygiene should go without saying. Nails may get dirt, accumulated lint, bacteria, and other unwanted materials from opening lids to digging in dirt. Proper washing of nails, with anti-bacterial soap removes and prevents bacteria from growing under your nails and washes off all unwanted materials. A gentle scrub with a nail brush is recommended to help remove any unwanted dirt under the nail.

DON’T: Excessively expose nails to water

While cleaning nails regularly is the best way to maintain proper nail hygiene, excessive water contact can ruin nail structure. Nails are very absorptive of water, 1000 times more than the skin, causing them to be vulnerable to brittleness, peeling and breakage. This is why soaking nails before a manicure or pedicure is a bad idea. Take into account, wearing gloves while doing dishes or any other water work.

DO: Use moisturizer

Nails need to be moisturized as much as your skin does. When applying lotion or oil to your skin, don’t shy off from giving your nails a little more attention. Moisturizing nails will prevent them from becoming dry and brittle which may cause breakage.

DON’T: Moisturize with polish on

Use a nail polish remover to get rid of all nail polish to properly reach the nail plate. It is important to moisturize the nail plate while prepping for a manicure or a pedicure, as well as the cuticles and skin around your nails.

DO: Use the right tools

The best type of nail care is gentle care. As you go in with the sharp manicures and clippers, be gentle. Using the right tools is key. Trim your nails straight across then down the tips in a gentle curve then file them to keep a uniform length and shape using the right grit files, especially after a bath or foot soak when the nails are soft and clean.

DON’T: Bite fingernails or pick at cuticles

These habits can cause soreness in and on skin around your nails, and cause abnormal growth, increasing their vulnerability to infections.

DO: Clip off hang nails

To prevent damage to the skin on and around nails, soften the hangnail with warm soapy water first, apply mineral oil or petroleum jelly gently in a circular motion. Give the hangnail around 5 minutes to soften then use a sanitized nail clipper or cuticle scissors to cut off the hang nail.

DON’T: Rip off hang nails

You might rip live tissue along with the hang nails if not done gently or using a sanitized nail clipper. Even a minor cut alongside your nail can cause bacteria and fungi build up causing infections.

DO: Apply a protective layer before nail polish

Your everyday manicure and pedicure play a huge role in terms of health. Many nail polishes contain potentially harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyle phthalate also identified as the “toxic trio”, that have been associated with health problems such as thyroid dysfunction,cancer, birth defects and allergic reactions. Its smart to look out for these ingredients before buying any nail polish.

To protect the base of your nails from chemical damages, consider applying a nail hardener to help strengthen the nails.

DON’T: Use harsh nail care products

Too much of anything is bad for you, and nail care products are not an exception. As much as nails need to be moisturized and polished, overusing nail care products may cause irritation and damage the base of your nail.

DO: Consult your doctor

Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you notice:

  • Discoloration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail
  • Swelling of skin around the nails
  • Failure of nails to grow out
  • Thinning or thickening of nails
  • Bleeding around the nails
  • Changes in nail shape, such as curling nails

DON’T: Ignore problems

It is easy to blow off a simple scratch or a discolored nail- but not all conditions can be solved by a scrub. Neglecting any of the above mentioned red flags may cause long term injuries or infections.

Final Take

Maintaining healthy nails that look fashionable does’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. The fashion trend is to have nails neat, healthy, strong and more natural. Having great nails gives that extra boost of confidence needed and a shield from unnecessary fungal and bacterial infections.