Most of us never think about our fingernails, unless our nailpolish has chipped right before a big date, or we slam our foot against the door (ouch!) and our toenail turns an ugly purple. But healthy nails need a little more attention than that. A few daily habits, which won’t take more than a few minutes, will keep our nails at their pinkest, strongest best—preventing ingrown nails, fungal infections, and brittleness.
Healthy nail secret # 1: petroleum jelly
Every day, take a small amount of petroleum jelly and rub into your cuticle and the fingertips. It’s best to do this after a shower (the petroleum jelly will seal in the moisture) but you can do this anytime. Keep a small pot in your bag or desk drawer, so you can sneak in this quick routine while sitting in the cab, waiting for someone to answer the phone, or letting dinner simmer on the stove.
Healthy nail secret # 2: rubber gloves
Dishwashing liquid and other harsh cleansers can dry your nails. In fact, many of our daily household chores (like gardening or cleaning the toilet) expose nails to chemicals and dirt. Protect them with rubber gloves, and add a little extra love by slathering moisturizer before slipping these on.
Healthy nail secret # 3: Proper manicures and pedicures
Use that orange stick with care. Whenever you push back your cuticles, position the orange stick at 45 degrees. And use a gentle hand—if you damage your cuticles, you will affect the health of the entire nail.
Another mistake is to cut nails in a curve. It’s best to cut nails (especially toenails) straight across, in a horizontal line. Ingrown nails are painful! Always file nails in one direction (don’t see-saw back and forth) and wait until they’re completely dry.
If you want to add colored nail polish, wear a base coat, two thin coats of color, and a top coat. Remove nail polish after 10 days, using acetate-based products (not acetone, which dries nails).
Read our tips on how to do a spa-quality pedicure.
Healthy nail secret # 4: A hand towel
Always dry your hands after getting them wet—when you wash the dishes, take a bath, swim, water the plants, etc. You lower your risk for fungal infections.
Same thing goes for your feet! Never wear damp shoes. So if you have a pair you use frequently (like your running shoes or work boots) get two pairs, so you can air-dry one of them while using the other.
Healthy nail secret # 5: Cotton socks
Cotton socks will absorb moisture, and is your best defense against fungal infections and ‘wet shoe stink.’
Healthy nail secret # 6: Vitamin B
Studies show that taking 2.5 milligrams of Vitamin B biotin a day can make your nails stronger and harder. (Note: it’s what veterinarians give to strengthen horse’s hooves, which are made of a similar substance to our own nails.)
Another great vitamin for nails is zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause nails to develop white spots. You can get your zinc by drinking milk and eating hard-boiled eggs.
Healthy nail secret # 7: buffing
Buffing your nails everyday will stimulate blood supply to the nails, which will make nails grow faster. It will also keep them naturally shiny!
Healthy nail secret # 8: clear polish
Even if you don’t really wear colored polish, a light coat of clear polish will act as a protective shield.
Photo from healthcareandbeautytips.com