Plus, the tell-tale signs of unhealthy nails.
Whether you religiously paint your nails as a form of self-care or someone who’s constantly picking and biting at their cuticles, we all crave for healthy nails. Besides, any nail buff will know the key to a perfect manicure is starting off with a healthy base.
We talked to our in-house nail care experts to find out exactly what you should be doing for your nails — but first, how can you tell if your nails are healthy? Here’s what to look for.
Signs of healthy nails:
Signs of unhealthy nails:
If you’re concerned about your nail health, don’t go anywhere as we’ve got some handy tips up our sleeves to help you out. But, if you feel your nail health could be signs of a more serious health problem it’s important that you contact your GP right away. Since your nails are super visible, it’s easier to tell of any changes — meaning you can treat symptoms early. Now here’s how to get strong, healthy nails:
1. Keep your hands squeaky clean
Regularly washing your hands is soo, so important. (Thinking back to all those times we’ve witnessed people leave public bathrooms without washing their hands *shudder*). We hope everyone continues to maintain healthy, bacteria-free hands as it not only protects you, but others too. Just remember to keep hands moisturised too as frequent washing has a tendency to dry out your skin.
Here’s how to do a deep clean:
Before you do anything, it’s important to make sure your nails and the skin around them are thoroughly dirt-free. Then, remove all traces of your last colour with an acetone-free remover (anything else unnecessarily dries out your nail). Our nail technicians recommend applying soap to a toothbrush, then gently scrubbing your nails and skin. This will remove dirt and exfoliate any dead skin without the need for harsh, drying chemicals or expensive scrubs.
2. Take it easy on your nails
Your nails are delicate, and scrubbing them too roughly can actually expose you to some nasty infections. Another no-no: Using metal tools under the nail, as too much digging around causes the nail plate to separate from the skin (called onycholysis). This can also lead to an irregular white, arching nail tip – and most definitely won’t help your manicure look as fire as intended.
3. Cut your nails regularly
Regular trims are just as important to your nails as they are to your hair. Set aside time to clip them every couple of weeks, adjusting to more or less often once you’re able to assess your nail growth and health.
4. Prioritise nail health over length
Long nails are cute, sure, but if you’re someone who struggles with snags or breakage, we recommend keeping your nails short — at least to start out with.
A shorter style with a rounded edge tends to be easier to manage, meaning you get to focus on building strength without worrying about anything else.
As long as each nail is uniform in shape and matches its nine neighbours, you won’t miss the added length, trust us. Plus, short nails in good nick look just as beaut in our opinion 💅.
5. Always keep a nail file on hand
If you’re someone whose daily routine causes a lot of wear and tear, we suggest keeping a nail file handy to smooth away any rough edges that happen on the spot. And in the interests of putting to bed the emery vs glass filer debate, we suggest using a glass nail file (also called crystal).
It turns out, the emery board that’s been sitting in your drawer could be causing your nails to peel and snag. A glass nail file glides over the nail tip and doesn’t tear the nail like an emery board or metal file. This means you can file in both directions and it smooths out the nail tip as it files, creating a nice even edge. But, that’s not to say you need to throw away your emery board just yet – it just means you need to take a little extra care to file in one direction if that’s the filer you choose to use.
6. Don’t forget to take care of your nail tools, too
Disinfecting your nail tools between uses is just as important as regularly cleaning your makeup and hair brushes, and for the same reason — bacteria. To keep your nails happy and infection-free, wash metal tools with soap and water and then wipe down with rubbing alcohol. And don’t forget to regularly replace disposable tools like emery boards. There’s no reason to continue using a tattered tool when it’s so easy (and fairly inexpensive) to replace with a new one.
7. Leave your cuticles well alone
The cuticle has a very important purpose to serve: It seals the area at the base of the nail. So when you cut (or gnaw at) the cuticle, it breaks that seal of protection. The better you are at leaving cuticles alone, the more your nails will thank you. Taking care of your cuticles also helps minimise those dreaded hangnails (try not to tear them to avoid infections).
If you’re dead-set on messing with your cuticles, we recommend gently pushing back the cuticle once a week after getting out of the shower. Then, massage them with a cuticle oil. We suggest using OPI’s Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil – it’s an ultra-nourishing and fast absorbing oil formula that helps protect, replenish and strengthen the nails – and soften cuticles.
8. Protect your nails with a base coat
Painting your nails at home is no excuse to cut corners by skipping on the base coat. This step not only protects the nail from being stained by the polish, but also helps the colour look more intense with just one coat. And if you really want to take things to the next level, add a coat of clear gloss between each layer to add extra shine and protection. Not to mention a top coat to prevent those ugly nail chips. Because seriously, what’s the point of spending all that time painting your nails if it only lasts a day?
9. Moisturise your hands and nails often
You wouldn’t go about your day without moisturizing your face, so why should you treat your nails any different? Everyone’s skin is different, so you can moisturise twice to even several times a day. And if you’re likely to forget, put a reminder in your phone. Basically do whatever it takes to keep them nourished because this is key to keeping hands and nails looking and feeling more youthful and healthy.
And, whatever hand cream you choose, make sure you’re investing in a good one. Greasy hands are a no-no, so look for a cream that works to really penetrate the skin leaving you with a soft, supple feeling. We love using OPI’s Pro Spa Protective Hand, Nail & Cuticle Cream as it not only moisturises, but it brightens and protects the skin, nails and cuticles.
10. Wear gloves when doing the dishes
Whenever you’re cleaning with harsh chemicals like bleach or disinfectant, gardening, or doing anything that involves soaking or dirtying your hands, wear gloves. Why? Washing dishes in hot, soapy water can weaken nails, while getting them caked with dirt from gardening will require a level of cleaning that you do not want to mess with.
Similarly, when the weather gets chilly, remember to wear a pair of gloves so that the cold air and wind doesn’t undo all of your hard work! Retain moisture and prevent dry, flaky, scaly skin at all costs if you want beautiful looking hands and nails.
11. Load up on protein-rich food
Your fingernails are made of a protein called keratin. So just as with the clearness of your skin or the shine of your hair, you can improve nail health by tweaking your diet. Including protein-rich foods like beans, fish and nuts should make for easy additions to your diet. You can also go a little extra adding vitamins and supplements like biotin and Vitamin E to your daily regimen.
By making these small changes you’ll be rewarded with stronger, clearer nails.