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DIY nail rehab: How to keep your nails healthy

Vivian KELLY
by Vivian KELLY Published on January 21, 2014

Gorgeous natural nails are a lot harder to come by than you might think. There's a lot more to it than simply letting them be. For truly healthy, happy nails there's some must-have habits you need to get into. If you're keen to keep those nails strong and shiny - the natural way - then check out these top tips from Maybelline's leading nail expert.

Keeping nails in good shape is important. Not only do keratin-rich coverings help support your fingertips but they also serve as an accurate picture into your personal health.

With this in mind, investing the time to take care of your tips is more important than ever. But how do you keep nails healthy and naturally beautiful?

Apart from following an all-round healthy lifestyle there's a few things you can do to assure your nail beds are getting all the TLC they deserve.

We got chatting to Maybelline New York nail expert, Michelle Humphrey to give us the lowdown on how to keep your nails forever strong and healthy.

Michelle says, “Healthy, cared-for nails look good and reflect positively upon our general health. When you have nails that look good you feel good and this can help boost confidence. A small manicure can make all the difference to how you feel!”

We totally agree. So to keep those talons healthy, strong and sturdy here's your essential checklist:

1. Use cuticle oil daily

Cuticle oil is used to moisturize the skin and the nail beds. With vitamins, citric acids and vegetable oils, cuticle oil is a great way to combat dryness and help repair damaged nails.

​Try applying cuticle oil on your natural nail plates and under the free edge. For deep moisturization and the maximum results, apply each night before bedtime.

2. Use a glass file

Most of us ladies have come across a nail file at one point or another. Filing your nails is an important way to manage chips and jagged edges. Our preference? A glass or crystal nail file.

“Unlike many regular emery boards, they help to prevent the free edge from splitting or shredding. Essie do a great crystal file,” says Michelle.

​Note: files are made to manage and trim the edges, not to saw off your whole nail. File your nails once a week for optimal results.

3. Moisturize

Frequently applying moisturizer will protect and nourish the nails and surrounding skin.

“Hands are part of the package so don't forget your hand cream, especially after washing them.”

Rich creams that contain phospholipids, urea or lactic acid work best on chapped nails.

4. Lay off the nail polish

Before rebelliously painting away, consider laying off the nail polish for a while. As they say, natural is always best. Keeping your nails au naturel for a few days will help them ‘breathe’.

Michelle says, “Let your nails breathe once in a while. Nail polish can dehydrate your nails if worn long-term and can cause flakiness.”

5. Cuticle care

Cuticle care is a vital factor for the health and appearance of your nails. Michelle says, “Push back your cuticles once a week. Do this when you get out the bath or shower as they will be soft. If you don't have a cuticle tool you can use your towel.”

If you thought pushing back those cuticles was a bad habit think again.

“It's not bad for your nail health. However, they do have the tendency to grow back ragged or uneven if they have been cut to excess. Push back the cuticles to start, then stick to removing any hang nails or loose, unsightly skin.”

Don't forget that cuticles seal the nail beds from bacterial and fungal infections so it’s important not to go OTT when trimming. ​

6. Shape your nails

Square, round, squoval or stiletto - the range of nail shapes is endless, but what’s really the best shape for your nails?

“Anything with a slightly rounded or curved edge generally tends to be strongest for natural nails. I find clients with squarer edges are more prone to catching and breaking them. Mirror the shape of your cuticle in your free edge, or try a rounded/oval shaped nail for optimum strength.”

7. Try a supplement

There are various supplements that you can take for your nails. Biotin is a popular fix, which also aids in healthier skin and hair (can't go wrong with that ladies). However, the results aren't instant. If you want healthy strong nails you have to be patient. Michelle estimates that it takes two to three months before you can see any obvious changes to the condition of your nails.

​Another supplement to try is sea kelp. Michelle says, “Sea kelp is often used to aid hair growth and thickness, but some have found their nails growing too! Hair and nails are made up of the same protein so the link to increased nail growth could be valid.” Worth a try.

8. Nutrition

Pamper your nails inside and out with beauty food. Try to increase your intake of foods rich in zinc, iron, natural fatty acids and vitamin B12 (within healthy measures). These are all essential to nail growth and health.

9. DIY treatment

Try a hot oil treatment. “This is perfect for winter dry hands and aching joints,” says Michelle.

"You'll need a bowl that you can fit your hands comfortably inside and a slightly larger bowl to fit around it. Remove any polish and gently buff nails and push back cuticles. Fill the larger bowl with a few centimeters of hot water. Fill the smaller bowl with a couple centimeters of sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil. Stack on top of the bowl with water (gently heating up the oil)."

​Immerse your hands in the oil for around 10-20 minutes. Cover with a towel to help insulate. After treatment, remove excess oil using a warm towel and massage hands together.

​The result? Oh-so heavenly hands.

10. Natural nails are best

Fakies are so last year - even celebrities are opting for a more natural look (we're not talking about Rihanna). While artificial nails serve as a temporary beauty pick-me-up, people often discover the damage and thinning of their nail beds after getting them removed.

“Nail extensions and gels require being maintained every 2-3 weeks and if this doesn't happen it can lead to damage of the natural nails."

Your nail beds and surrounding tissue all need to be cared for on a weekly basis so we say ditch the acrylics and self-indulge in some at-home TLC for your talons.

Will you be nailing down these healthy nail tips? Tweet us @wewomenUSA

by Vivian KELLY

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