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Hair & Nails

Nail Care 101: The Ultimate Guide To Stronger, Healthier Nails

Are your nails weak, brittle or need a little TLC? Try these top tips for long, strong, healthy nails from the nail experts.

With excess handwashing and hand sanitising (whichtend to bemostlyalcoholwhich dries skin and nails out to no end), our hands and nails coulddo withsomeTLC.Luckily, caring for your nails doesn’t cost a bomb. In fact, it just takes a littleextratime and effort,and itstarts with hydration.Dive in to read the nail experts’ advice for stronger, longer, healthier nails and avoid weak, brittle nails prone to breakage and splitting.

File in one direction

“I give my clients a new file to take with them if they’re going away
and I show them the best way to file their nails. File them in one
direction, and not back and forth which can leave them jagged and prone
to catching on things,” says manicurist and nail expert Laura Massey.  

Plus, your nail file shouldn't be too rough as these can cause splitting, damage, and breakage, advises nail artist Emma Jackson. She recommends
using a 220/240 grit file for the free top of your nail to avoid
brittleness and avoid filing the sidewalls of nails which can result in
splitting.

Use cuticle oil

“Nails need a lot more attention as it gets colder. Cuticle oil will
be your best friend! Dry nails can curve inwards which can cause your
gel to lift or polish to peel away. Keeping them nourished will make
your mani last longer,” advises Massey.  

“Massage cuticle oil
into your nails and cuticles at least twice a day. This will encourage
the new nail to be strong and will make a huge difference to the
condition of your nails.”  

Exfoliate once a week

“Use a natural exfoliator once a week (twice if your hands are super
dry) to remove any dead skin from hands and nails, leaving them soft and
nourished,” suggests Massey. 

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Moisturize with balms and creams

“It’s essential to keep skin and
nails hydrated in the colder months. Keeping nails hydrated will keep
them supple and prevent them from going brittle which can result in them
snapping,” advises Jackson.  

Follow all hand-washing and hand
sanitizing with a moisturizer. “Use hand cream at least once a day, more
often if using alcohol gels and excessive hand washing. You don’t have
to break the bank with any of these products,” reminds Massey.  

Nail
expert to the A-listers, Harriet Westmoreland swears by slathering on
moisturizer of an evening leaving a thick layer on overnight. Think of
it as a deep conditioning hair mask. When we sleep, our body is in
restoration mode. Plus, we lose more water as we sleep, making our skin
prone to dehydration. This is the time to ramp up the moisture levels
all over, including your hands, to wake up to soft, supple, hydrated
hands. Wearing cotton gloves overnight can help to lock in the moisture
and creates a barrier so the moisturiser can become more easily
absorbed. 

Don’t pick off your gels

“Please don’t pick off your gel polish! As satisfying as it might feel
at the time, doing this takes away layers of your nail, leaving them
vulnerable and weak, paper-thin and sore. Get them soaked off properly
(ideally by a professional) who’ll take care in removing the product
safely. I’ve seen damaged nail beds from DIY removals and this can take
time to rectify,” says Massey. 

Use rubber gloves

“Rubber up! Wear marigolds when doing the dishes or any housework.
This will help your manicure stay strong, chip-free, looking fresh for
longer,” says Massey.  

Submerging your nails in water can dry them out, and cause them to become brittle.  

Avoid using your nails as ‘tools’

“We often say nails are jewels and not tools – using your nails to do
things like pick off labels or open cans with can cause damage, chips,
and lifting,” says Massey.

Take your vitamins and stock up on collagen

“Like any part of the body, to stay healthy we need nutrients to set a
strong foundation. The worst thing you can do is neglect putting
goodness into your body. Unless the nails are getting a good healthy
blood supply, which is where exercise comes in – carrying those
much-needed nutrients – nothing much is going to change regarding nail
health,” says beauty therapist Nicola Dickinson, of Fresh Therapies.  

As
we get older, we lose collagen which can be aging for our skin, hair,
and nails. Nails specifically can become weak and brittle. Encouraging
more collagen production in your diet and through supplements can support our nails to become stronger and healthier.  

Keep your nails clean

“Always keep your nails and tools
clean, eat healthily, as well as exercising are the best things you can
do to keep your nails in great condition,” says Dickinson. 

Get a monthly manicure

Nail artist to the stars, Harriet Westmoreland says that it’s a myth that we have to ‘let nails breathe'. She recommends getting a monthly manicure (but not necessarily a gel manicure) to keep nails and cuticles tidy and in good condition, so we’re not tempted to pick at them. Plus, they’re super relaxing. As if we needed an excuse for a monthly manicure!  

She still recommends having a break from any treatments once or twice a year, and follow the break with a conditioning treatment.  

If your nails are yellow, brittle, or splitting despite regular nail care, it might be time to visit a nail dermatologist.  

Nailed it!

Getting regular manis and pedis isn’t enough. We can continue the nail care outside of the salon too with regular exfoliation, moisturization and by feeding our nails from the inside with the right vitamins and nutrients. Nails are often one of the first things people notice about you – make yours hydrated, chic, and neat to make a good first impression!