Manicures may seem pretty straightforward, but there are probably a few things you’re doing that could seriously harm your nail health.
If you thought we were done calling you out on your bad beauty habits, you were wrong. You now understand why air drying your hair is bad for it and why your pore strips are doing more harm than good, but we couldn’t just leave it at your hair and skin. No, we have to talk about your nail habits too.
You’re probably familiar with the basics—don’t chew your nails, don’t pick your hangnails—you get the gist. However, we guarantee you’re guilty of at least a few of these cardinal nail care sins. Read on to see where you’re going wrong!
Nail mistake #1: Not cleaning your tools
Even if the nail equipment is yours, please sanitise it properly after every use. Your nail clippers (especially the set you use on your toenails) become gross after every use, accumulating all sorts of bacteria and gunk from under your nails—and the same goes for your cuticle pushers and nippers.
The best way to clean your tools is to wash them with soap and water, dry them thoroughly, and then disinfect them with some rubbing alcohol. For other tools such as emery boards, they can never really be sanitised, so replace them often and make sure you don’t share them.
Nail mistake #2: Buffing your nails too often
We all want shiny, healthy-looking natural nails, and buffing is often the easiest way to achieve just that.
Unfortunately, everything comes with a cost. When you buff your nails, you’re essentially filing off entire layers of your nail’s structure. To avoid thinning and weakening your nails to oblivion, make sure you’re not buffing too often. No more than once a month is a good schedule to keep to.
Nail mistake #3: Letting your nails ‘breathe’
There’s this belief that suggests that going au naturale with your nails can somehow cure all your nail-ments (ha, get it?) including staining, white lines, and yellowing. This is, unfortunately, a myth.
The reason you don’t need to let your nails breathe between manicures is that your nails don’t actually ‘breathe’—all the nutrition they need is supplied through the blood vessels in the nail bed.
What you’ll actually want to do to keep your nails strong and healthy is maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and certain supplements (like biotin). One thing to consider, though, is that removing gel or acrylics causes damage to your nail, weakening and thinning it (just like buffing them too often). If you’re particularly fond of gel or acrylic manicures, you may want to grow your nails out between sets so that you’re not damaging them beyond repair.
Nail mistake #4: Picking off your polish
Once your polish starts flaking, it only feels natural to start picking and peeling. Inherently, though, you know part of the reason it’s so satisfying is that it’s bad for you and your claws. Trust us—if you want healthier, stronger nails, try to resist the urge. Your newfound longer, thicker nails will be worth missing out on the temporary satisfaction!
Nail mistake #5: Filing your nails the wrong way
You see it everywhere in films, tv, and pop culture–manicurists filing nails like they’re brandishing a saw; back and forth. Now, Hollywood actors are no nail experts, so heed our advice and only file in one direction, lest you leave your talons susceptible to peeling and breakage. How does this technique switch-up help in any way? Well, put simply, the back-and-forth motion frays your nail on a microscopic level while the one-way technique simply buffs it all in the same direction. The fraying is what leaves your nail more prone to snapping, lifting and breaking. Yikes!
Nail mistake #6: Not washing your hands before painting your nails
This is something everyone tends to overlook: your nail plate, like your hair follicles, produces oils that help to nourish the nails.
Ideally, you’ll want to clean off any extra oils with some nail polish remover before you start layering on the polish, then follow up with a thorough scrub of your mitts to remove any remaining oils. It ensures your polish adheres correctly and your manicure is as perfect as can be.
Nail mistake #7: Not moisturising your cuticles
Your nails need the same amount of TLC that your face gets–skin is skin! No matter what kind of polish you go for (or if you skip the polish altogether), hydration is the key to healthy, strong nails. That said, this particularly applies to those of you out there who are fans of gel or acrylic manicures–it’s no secret that removing a manicure can be trying, even for the most experienced technicians. It leaves your nails in quite a state.
Invest in cuticle oil to keep your nails nice and supple. If you can’t find any you like, natural oils like jojoba oil, argan oil or sweet almond oil work perfectly too.
Nail mistake #8: Skipping the base coat
Ever wonder why your manicure comes out so streaky and your nails end up chipping pretty much as soon as you’re done? You’re skipping your base coat, that’s why. A proper, nourishing base coat fills in ridges for a seamless polish application while strengthening your nails and keeping them healthy. Don’t skimp!
Nail mistake #10: Not sealing off the edges of your nails
On the topic of easily-chipped manicures, if yours is acting up, you might want to look into dragging your topcoat over the edge to the very tip of your nail. Most chips start at the tip of the nail, so give the ends of your nails two extra swipes with a top coat to seal it over.
It’s a simple step to add to your nail routine that will help to extend the life of your manicure. More importantly, it’ll keep you from picking!
For more nail tips and trends, read here.
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