Just like our skin and hair, our nails also need a little TLC. In fact, it's extremely important to have healthy, strong nails because that's often a sign of a healthy body. Our nails can give us a lot of signs to whether we're healthy or not, so here's how you can tell if your nails are healthy.
Signs of Healthy Nails:
- Nails are white or pinkish
- Cuticles are present
- Nails and tips are of even lengths
- Prominent half-moon shape white section at the base of the nail, called lunula
Signs of Unhealthy Nails:
- Splitting nails – usually a sign of a vitamin deficiency
- Tiny white spots – usually a sign of over biting
- Horizontal grooves
- Red or swollen skin around cuticles
If you feel concerned about the look of your nails, it could be a sign of something more serious. It's best to consult a doctor or a dermatologist to get to the bottom of it.
#1. Keep Hands Clean at all Times
Now more than ever, it's important to keep your hands and nails clean at all times. Be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. If possible, use a natural soap that doesn't contain harsh chemicals, which may dry out hands and nails. Also, be sure to clean underneath nails using a soft toothbrush and hand soap.
#2. Be Gentle on Nails
Often times, people feel the need to pick at their nails using harsh metal tools to get underneath the nail or around the cuticle. This is a big no-no because your nails are actually very sensitive. This can lead to nails breaking, or becoming spoon shaped. It can also lead to a nail infection.
#3. Regularly Cut Your Nails
Just like your hair needs regular trims, so do your nails. Use a pair of nail scissors or clippers (make sure they are both very clean and disinfected) to trim your nails once every two weeks.
#4. Nail Health is More Important Than Nail Length
We all want long, beautiful nails, but sometimes, that just isn't possible. If your nails tend to break easily, keeping them long may not be an option. So, while they get stronger, keep them nice and trimmed. They'll look neater that way and you'll also prevent breakage.
#5. Always Keep a Nail File Around
If you tend to bite your nails a lot or if they break often, it's a good idea to keep a nail file with you at all times. But dermatologist suggest using a glass file (also called a crystal file), and filing only in one direction, and not back and forth. These nail files are much better for your nails as they do not cause breakage, unlike emery boards.
#6. Disinfect Your Nail Tools
Most people forget to do this, but it's super important to regularly wash and disinfect your nail tools. The best way to do it? After using them, quickly wash them with soap and water and dab a little bit of alcohol to remove any traces of bacteria.
#7. Leave Those Cuticles Alone
There is nothing worse than cutting your cuticles, because they actually serve a purpose: it seals the area at the base of the nail. When you remove that area, your nails can be prone to bacteria and infection. It's best to just regularly apply cuticle oil and moisturizer than to remove the cuticles. If you really must though, do it only after getting out of a bath or shower (when cuticles are very soft), and use an orange stick to push back the cuticles. Then, use a cuticle oil or thick moisturizer to hydrate the area.
#8. Always Use a Base Coat
If you paint your nails, you should never skip using a base coat. The base coat not only helps the nail polish look better, but it actually serves to protect your nails from staining.
#9. Check Your Nail Polish Labels
Not all nail polishes are created equal, so it's super important you check the labels. Dermatologists suggest staying away from polishes that contain dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. These are toxins that can cause splitting, brittleness, and cracking.
#10. Always Use a Top Coat
Applying a top coat will not only help your nail polish last longer, but it will also add a nice shine and sheen to your manicure. It's recommended to reapply a topcoat every 2-3 days to prevent chipping.
#11. Moisturize Your Hands and Nails Every Day
Since we're now washing our hands and sanitizing multiple times a day, our skin and nails are taking a serious beating! Carry a small moisturizer with you and apply as needed, but be sure to always moisturize before bed. You moisturize your face every single night (or at least you should!), so the same should be for your nails. Additionally, it's important to use a cuticle oil, so here is one of our favorite DIY cuticle oil recipes!
#12. Give Your Nails a Break
If you're constantly painting your nails, it's time to give them a break. Go for a week or two without any nail polish. Constantly painting your nails can stain and weaken them. Also, nail polish removers can be the reason why your nails are brittle and breaking.
#13. Wear Gloves When Doing Dishes
If you're doing the dishes in hot water and soap can do some major damage to your nails and cuticles. Instead, have a pair of rubber gloves handy and always use them. The same goes for cold weather – be sure to don a pair of gloves when heading outside to minimize dryness.
#14. Consume Protein
Fingernails are made up of keratin, which is a protein, so for healthy, strong nails it's important to either taken protein supplements or consume protein rich foods. These are not only great for your nails, but also your hair and skin as well.
Follow the above tips to get healthy, strong nails in no time. No biting, no removing of cuticles, and regular moisturizing can make a big difference! Plus, strong nails are a sign of good health, so it's oh-so-important to take a moment and be aware of your nail health.