With bold fluorescent colors sweeping the fashion scene, long, beautiful nails on everyone’s wish list. We use our hands and feet for much of our daily work, yet we ignore our nails. They are just dead cells, but require as much care as we give our face or our hair. With pollution and chemicals taking a toll on our body, our nails have had to bear the brunt of bacterial infections and cuticle damage. Nail health can indicate not only your personal style and grooming but also your overall health;hence nail care is more important than you think. Here are some tips to keep your nails healthy and clean and looking like a million bucks.
10. Nail extensions and Manicures/Pedicures
For those of us with not so good natural nails, there are nail extensions of course, but most experts share the opinion that if not done properly it could cause fungal and bacterial infections. Hence it is advisable to opt for nail extensions at just the tips since risk of damage is mitigated by the small surface area. Get your nails pampered once in a while with a good relaxing manicure once in a month or so, but ensure it is a reputed salon and that all tools used are sterilized properly. Don’t get your cuticles removed since it can lead to infection. Similarly, for toenails a pedicure and a foot bath can do wonders.
9.Avoid bad nail habits
Personally, one of the major obstacles in my path to good nails has been my tendency to stress bite my nails. Prolonged biting can result in damaged nail beds and make fingernails weak. Another big Don’t for nail care is peeling skin removal. These hangnails can cause discomfort but peeling them off can cause bleeding and risk the exposed nail to bacterial or fungal infection. Instead,a safer way to get rid of them would be to use clippers or special nail scissors. Using fingernails as tools to open can lids or for other prying jobs puts undue strain on the nails making them weak and chipped, hence use proper tools or wear gloves.
8. Nail hardeners
Weak nails can break off damaging cuticles and causing pain. Hardeners are chemicals typically make weak nails harder so that they don’t break off easily, but it is an important task that you choose your nail hardener with care. Hardeners are of two types: cross linking hardeners work on the inside of the nail to tie the keratin proteins chains in your nails making them harder and reinforcing hardeners which work on the outside of the nail by adding a layer on top. Hardeners containing toluene or sulfonamide as well as formaldehyde should be avoided since they can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions; use nylon fibres based hardeners instead. Also refrain from over using these nail hardeners since too much of these chemicals can have the adverse effect of making your nails more brittle.
It often happens that nails become chipped or develop jagged edges. Jagged nails can get caught in clothes, socks causing them to break. Hence it is a good idea to file your nails in case of the occasional damage but apart from that filing on a regular basis also keeps the nails healthy and well kept. File your nails at least once a week and use a proper nail file. When filing, first use the coarse shaping side to remove more nail but for smoothing the nails, use the finer side of the nail file. Move in a direction from the corner to the centre and always in one direction. Never file from side to side as this will cause the stress points of the nail’s free edge to weaken. Ensure that your nail edges are smooth and not too deep. Finished nails should be oval and slightly triangle but never pointed. Do the same when you are doing it for your toe nails as well but at a much lesser frequency.
To keep your nails within grooming range it is advisable that the nail should not exceed more than a quarter of an inch above the fingernail, since it begins to bend under pressure. They become curved and crooked, and worst of all lose their rigidity and become brittle. So trimming your nails regularly keeps them beautiful and strong, preventing breakage and splitting. Also for people who use their hands a lot for work, like working with rough machines, or playing instruments, sports etc nails should be kept shorter. On an average nails grow about 0.1 millimetres a day, but nails of the middle finger and the ring finger grow faster than the others, hence trimming once a week is okay. Before cutting your nails, soak them in water for a couple of minutes to soften them. Then begin trimming using clippers and cut them straight across but with a slight curve. After trimming file your nails for smoothing out the edges, and make sure they are all even. Our toenails grow at a much slower rate than our fingernails hence trimming requirements are a lot less.
Cleaning utensils and clothes and other household work, expose your nails to very strong chemicals present in detergents and soaps, which corrode the nails and make them weak and susceptible to damage. Wear rubber gloves while cleaning to protect your nails from these chemicals, as well as from the strain that is applied on nails due to work. Another important thing to protect your nails from is the sun, which most of us tend to forget. Sun burn not only affects your face, arms or legs but can burn the skin under your nails as well. Continuous exposure can cause vertical ridges in nails which make nails prone to fungal infections, and it takes about six months to grow them out. Hence it is advisable to apply good quality nail polishes enriched with UVA and UVB protection agents and also apply sun block on nail folds and cuticles.
4. Nail nutrition
Just like our body our nail health is also dependent upon our diet and requires adequate proteins, vitamins and minerals. Nails are mainly made up the protein keratin, hence you should eat plenty of protein present in foods like eggs, poultry, fish,pulses, soya and nuts. Iron rich food such as those present in red meat, oily fish, eggs, green vegetables like spinach, peas, beans should also be consumed, along with vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, tomatoes and lettuce to help absorb the iron; since their absence causes nails to become brittle, curved in the middle and the skin underneath the nail to become pale in colour. Poor intake of zinc causes the nails to become white, hence seafood, cheese, nuts and seeds should be a part of your diet; which also contain sulphur for healthy nails. Fishes are the best nail health food since they fulfill other requirements such as biotin, omega-3 fatty acids necessary for nail strength and healthy growth; as is taking vitamin E and biotin supplements. Last but not the least the most important factor to take care of would be to drink lots of water!
3. Nail polishes and removers
Nail polishes are not just for beautifying your nails, they also serve the purpose of protecting your nails from being damaged. Nail polishes are typically made of a filming agent, a solvent and pigment for colouration, but the application of nail polishes on a regular basis causes nails to turn yellow, due to pigment absorption hence always apply a base coat to reduce nail and polish contact. Try to use polishes less frequently or remove nail polish at least once a week, preferably with a non acetone or non toxic polish remover. Acetone is a common ingredient in removers and is a very a strong solvent and dries your nails apart from eating them.
2. Clean Nails
It is but natural that nails should be kept clean and neat. Dirt and dead skin accumulation under the nails can cause nails to stain and infections due to bacteria and fungi. For regular cleaning of your nails, wash them with soap and water after thoroughly scrubbing them. To clean under the nail, use soap and a nailbrush and avoid using hard objects or going in too deep since it can be easily damaged. Staining of nails can be removed by rubbing the stained area with a cotton ball, soaked in ten parts water with one part bleach. A natural way to clean nails would be to use lemon water instead of bleach.
1. Moisturize and massage
A fail safe beauty care tip moisturization is the key to everything. Moisturizing your cuticles will not only help them look better but also make them soft hence protecting them from breaking. It reduces the tendency of the nails to become brittle, cracked, split or chipped. Not just cuticles but ensure that you moisturize your nails several times through the day and especially before going to bed. Using a waxy lip balm, Vaseline or any petroleum jelly gives them a shine and keeps them well protected and moisturized. Also nails can be moisturized by soaking them in oil such as coconut oil, olive oil or castor oil; about twice or thrice a week and massaged thoroughly. A good hand massage encourages nail growth and also improves circulation.