Raise your hand if you’re hard on your nails! Sure, none of
us want to wreck our talons, but they’re easy to forget about when you’re dealing with day-to-day life. But here’s the thing: “Nails are
made up of the same protein as hair—keratin—and when you learn that, you
start to make the connection that, just like hair, nails need gentle
loving care too,” says essie celebrity manicurist
Fair point. Plus, polished, healthy fingers and toes just send that “pulled
together” message we all want. But where to start? By eliminating these 13
moves from your life. Give these habits the old heave-ho and watch your digits
become more gorgeous immediately.
1 . NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO INGREDIENTS.
If you’re someone who always has polish on your nails, staying away from the harshest ingredients can help keep your health in check, says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann. Depending on how concerned you are with chemicals, you can choose a formula that is three-free (meaning free of dibutyl phthalate or DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde—a category that the majority of polishes available today fall under, including brands like essie, OPI, and Sally Hansen), or five-free (which also eliminates formaldehyde resin and camphor, like Julep and Zoya). Lippman’s own line of Crème Nail Polish is five-free, adds xylene and parabens to the list of nixed ingredients, and contains nourishing biotin and green tea to help strengthen.
2 . GOING BAREFOOT IN HOTEL ROOMS.
You likely think to wear flip flops or slippers at the gym, but what about hotels? Since these areas might have unwanted bacteria and other icky things hanging around, Dr. Leslie Baumann, a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute, suggests slipping something over your feet when walking around the room to keep both your soles and toenails safe from picking up a mysterious fungus.
3 . SKIPPING MOISTURIZER.
nails are not as rigid, which means they’re not as likely to break. “Think of
your nails and hands like your face. It wouldn’t occur to most women
to wash their face and not apply a moisturizer, but they wash hands over and
over and don’t apply hand lotion!” says Lippmann. The solution: Keep a
travel-size hand cream or cuticle oil bottle at every sink in your home, at your
office desk, and in your purse. “Easy access is key when adding a step
to any routine. Oftentimes, out of sight means out of mind,” she warns. One we
like: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil.
4 . PICKING OFF GEL POLISH.
It might be tempting to peel away a gel manicure instead of having it soaked off—the color lifts off so easily! But Saunders insists this is a bad idea. “It removes an unnecessary amount of nail layers.” The result: A nail that’s much weaker than it was pre-gel. Either book an appointment at the salon to have it taken off correctly or try a special at-home remover set, like the Sensationail Gel Polish Removal Kit.
5 . NOT GETTING THE RIGHT NUTRITION.
The health of your body is reflected in the state of your nails, so if you’re not getting a balanced mix of nutrients, you’re holding yourself back in more ways than one. Noticing that your nails aren’t as strong as you would like but can’t pack another leaf of kale into your diet? Consider adding a one-a-day vitamin or supplement. “Nails love omega-3 fatty acids and multi-vitamins,” says Saunders.
6 . NOT BEING A MEMBER OF CLUB BYOT (BRING YOUR OWN TOOLS).
Files and clippers that have been used on other people can leave you vulnerable. “Every time you get a manicure or pedicure, you risk getting a fungal infection either from improperly sterilized tools or dirty foot spas,” says Dr. Baumann. Even if you’re going to a nice place, one slip can cause you trouble. Your best bet is to reduce your risk as much as possible by bringing your own! One to pick up: Sephora Collection Tough as Nails Manicure Set.
7 . DOING CHORES WITHOUT PROTECTION.
You might feel like a cartoon version of a 1950s housewife wearing gloves to do housework, but do it, says Lippmann. It not only protects your polish but keeps anything harsh or drying in your cleaning solutions off your hands.
8 . USING A SAWING MOTION WHEN FILING.
Filing and shaping nails may seem like a mindless activity, but it can actually weaken and break your nails if done improperly, warns Lippmann. “Never ‘saw’ back and forth on the tip of the nail,” she advises. Instead, she says to gently run the file across the nail in one direction, beginning at the outside edge and pulling towards the center. Then repeat on the other side.
“If your nails are thinner and have the tendency to peel or break, be especially
careful while filing,” says Lippmann. “Rather than holding the file flush to the nail,
tilt it so it is underneath. This allows you to see exactly what you are doing
and helps protect against overdoing it.”
9 . USING YOUR NAILS AS TOOLS.
Sure, you know using your nails to open soda cans or scrape off labels isn’t a great idea, but not using them when they’re so darn handy is hard! But both Dr. Baumann and Saunders caution that this is the quickest way to weaken your nails—and end up with a chip!
10 . GETTING GREASED UP.
While you do want to keep your hands moisturized, Lippmann warns that you should try to keep your nails free and clear of anything oily or greasy, like cooking oil in the kitchen, as this will cause nails to discolor and wear away quicker. And keep in mind that more polish changes = more exposure to drying ingredients in nail polish remover.
11 . PICKING AT AND CUTTING CUTICLES.
Not only do scraggily, butchered cuticles look bad, but according to Dr. Baumann, any breaks in the skin leave you vulnerable to infection. Not good. Considering skipping the cuticle clippers and just simple push them back with a cotton-wrapped orange stick instead.
12 . SKIPPING THE BASECOAT.
We know it seems like a superfluous step that can easily be cut out in a time-crunch, but our experts insist that basecoat protects your nails from staining—and makes your polish lasts longer. One to try: Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Smooth & Strength Base Coat.