Who Wants Strong and Healthy Nails

Bet­ter looks at your fin­ger tips.

Woman's Era - - Child Challenges - By Prachi Bhard­waj

Or, maybe I should ask – Who doesn’t want strong and healthy nails! No one wishes to see ridges, dents or ar­eas of unusual colour or shape on their nails. The fin­ger­nails are com­posed of lam­i­nated lay­ers of a pro­tein called ker­atin which grows from the area at the base of the nail un­der your cu­ti­cle. Healthy fin­ger­nails are smooth, with­out pits or grooves. Ev­ery wo­man de­sires her nails to be uni­form in colour and con­sis­tency and free of spots or dis­coloura­tion.

Sim­ple rou­tine goes a long way

A sim­ple but rou­tine ex­er­cise can keep your nails healthy and beau­ti­ful. Soak them in warm soapy wa­ter and use a soft brush to clean them. This will not only clean your nails but will pre­vent any types of in­fec­tions which oc­cur due to germs and dirt ac­cu­mu­la­tions. Dr Ava Sham­ban, au­thor of Heal Your Skin, rec­om­mends 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.

A reg­u­lar man­i­cure will also help in get­ting rid of dead skin ac­cu­mu­la­tion around your nails. Try to keep your nails dry be­cause if they re­main wet there will be a for­ma­tion of bac­te­ria or fungi.

We all know cer­tain dos and dont’s about nail-care: ✿ Keep­ing fin­ger­nails dry and clean pre­vents bac­te­ria from grow­ing un­der the fin­ger­nails. To avoid split­ting of fin­ger­nails due to pro­longed con­tact with wa­ter, wear cotton-lined rub­ber gloves when wash­ing dishes, clean­ing or us­ing harsh chem­i­cals. Don’t bite your fin­ger­nails, pull off hang­nails, or pick at your cu­ti­cles. Even a mi­nor cut along­side your fin­ger­nail can al­low bac­te­ria or fungi to en­ter and cause an in­fec­tion. In­stead, care­fully clip the hang­nails with a nail clip­per. Don’t use harsh nail-care prod­ucts. Limit your use of nail pol­ish re­mover. Use mois­turiser. When you use hand lo­tion, rub the lo­tion into your fin­ger­nails and cu­ti­cles, too. In ad­di­tion to the lit­tle tips we all know, in this ar­ti­cle, we will fo­cus on cer­tain im­por­tant nail-care ad­vices that may not be so well known.

Reg­u­lar trim­ming is de­sir­able

Long nails are beau­ti­ful, but if you're some­one who has strug­gled with snags or break­age, Dr Sham­ban rec­om­mends that you keep your nails short — at least to start out with. A shorter style with a rounded edge tends to be eas­ier to man­age and looks neater, so you can fo­cus on build­ing strength with­out wor­ry­ing about any­thing else.

Reg­u­lar trims are as im­por­tant to your nails as they are to your hair, says Dr Prys­towsky. So set aside time to clip them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, depend­ing upon the fre­quency of growth of your nails.

Right diet helps

What­ever you eat di­rectly re­flects on your nails. If nails seem to dis­colour they in­di­cate a vi­ta­min de­fi­ciency. It is es­sen­tial to re­plen­ish them by an ad­e­quate supply of cal­cium, vi­ta­min A, phos­pho­rous, zinc, folic acid, sil­ica and vi­ta­min C. Try drink­ing plenty of milk and wa­ter and eat milk prod­ucts like cheese and yo­gurt. Eggs, green leafy veg­eta­bles such as spinach, pars­ley, co­rian­der, broc­coli. Apri­cots, car­rots and al­monds are your friends and are good sup­ple­ments to your diet.

Nail artist and ex­pert Holly Fal­cone ad­vises adding vitamins and sup­ple­ments like bi­otin, Vi­ta­min E, and fish oil to your daily reg­i­men, while Dr. Deb­bie Palmer rec­om­mends pro­tein-rich foods like beans, fish, and nuts.

Buy safe prod­ucts

Just as with make-up and skin­care, not all nail pol­ish brands are cre­ated equal, so make sure you're buy­ing or us­ing a good prod­uct. Dr Deb­bie Palmer urges you to steer clear of pol­ishes con­tain­ing toxic chem­i­cals like dibutyl ph­tha­late, formalde­hyde, and toluene, as th­ese tox­ins can con­trib­ute to brit­tle­ness, split­ting, and crack­ing.

Dr Sham­ban warns that go­ing from one strong pol­ish colour to an­other with­out giv­ing your nails a break can dry them out, turn them yel­low and, over time, even weaken the struc­ture of the nails.

Mois­tur­is­ing the right way

Fal­cone likes to use a mix of al­mond and av­o­cado oils to keep cu­ti­cles and nails hy­drated, but any nu­tri­ent-rich oil or mois­turiser will do.

You may pre­pare nail mois­turiser at home by fol­low­ing this recipe which comes from a book called

There’s Lead in Your Lip­stick by Gill Dea­con. Mix 2 tsp cas­tor oil, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp wheat germ oil (makes enough for 20 to 30 ap­pli­ca­tions) Mix and keep in a sealed bot­tle. Rub a small amount onto your nails. Leave for 3 to 5 min­utes. Wipe off.

Nail paints and re­movers

Nail paints typ­i­cally con­tain very toxic chem­i­cals such as toluene, dibutyl ph­tha­late, dimethyl and di­ethyl ph­tha­lates, cam­phor, and formalde­hyde, which have been shown to cause cancer. Ex­po­sure to th­ese chem­i­cals through your nails over a long pe­riod of time can re­sult in com­plete nail loss by the de­struc­tion of the nail ma­trix. This

will grad­u­ally lead to dry­ing out of nat­u­ral oils which can cause dam­age and split­ting. They may also lead to se­ri­ous nail breaks, in­fec­tion and loss of the nat­u­ral nail.

For­tu­nately, there are com­pa­nies that make some pol­ishes that do not con­tain th­ese chem­i­cals. So, make sure you read the la­bel care­fully be­fore pur­chas­ing. You can also buy wa­ter-based pol­ishes, which don't last as long but are the safest op­tion out there.

If you have brit­tle nails, der­ma­tol­o­gists will stop you from us­ing ace­tone nail pol­ish re­mover. It is very harsh as it re­moves a lot of nat­u­ral oils from your skin. In­stead of this opt for oil-based nail pol­ish re­movers. They are less harm­ful to your nails.

Pre­fer buff­ing to paint­ing

It may not be as fancy or eye­catch­ing as nail-colour, but a bit of buff­ing can go a long ways. Take the time to trim, file, and buff your nails prop­erly and you’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised at how great they can look, de­spite be­ing all nat­u­ral. Re­mem­ber, do not saw back and forth with a file be­cause that can weaken your nails. Al­ways file from the out­side edge of the nail in­ward.

When vis­it­ing a sa­lon

If you rely on salons for man­i­cures or pedi­cures, keep a few things in mind. Stick to salons that have a good rep­u­ta­tion and feed­back. Don't have your cu­ti­cles re­moved – they act to seal the skin to the nail plate, so re­moval can lead to nail in­fec­tion.


In­stead, der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Deb­bie Palmer rec­om­mends gently push­ing back the cu­ti­cle once a week with a wooden orange stick af­ter get­ting out of the shower, then mas­sag­ing them with a cu­ti­cle cream or thick, creamy lo­tion. Also, make sure your nail tech­ni­cian prop­erly ster­ilises all tools used dur­ing your pro­ce­dure to pre­vent the spread of in­fec­tion. You might also ask how the foot baths are cleaned. Ide­ally, a bleach so­lu­tion is used be­tween clients and the fil­ters are cleaned reg­u­larly. When to see a doc­tor

But some­times our nails put us in a spot where we need to visit a der­ma­tol­o­gist. How do we know when is the time to con­sult the doc­tor or der­ma­tol­o­gist? Take a close look at your nails. If you no­tice the fol­low­ing, it is time to visit the der­ma­tol­o­gist: ✿ Changes in nail colour, such as dis­col­oration of the en­tire nail or a dark streak un­der the nail Changes in nail shape, such as curled nails Thin­ning or thick­en­ing of the nails Sep­a­ra­tion of the nail from the sur­round­ing skin Bleeding around the nails Swelling or pain around the nails Fail­ure of nails to grow out

Step by step man­i­cure at home

It is not dif­fi­cult to per­form a man­i­cure at home. The fol­low­ing 10 steps will help you out: Gather all your tools be­fore you be­gin: Nail pol­ish re­mover Nail clip­per Cotton pads Nail buf­fer Cu­ti­cle pusher and nip­per Cu­ti­cle cream and hand mois­turiser A base coat for the nails, your favourite nail pol­ish, a clear top coat To start off, re­move the nail pol­ish that you are wear­ing. Use a non-ace­tone nail pol­ish re­mover and cotton pads to re­move your old nail pol­ish gently. Use the nail clip­pers to trim your nails. Avoid cut­ting them too short. Then, use the nail file to shape them. Take a bowl big enough to hold your hands. Fill it with warm wa­ter. Add baby shampoo or a gen­tle cleanser and soak your hands in it for a few min­utes (max­i­mum 3 min­utes). Soak­ing the cu­ti­cles helps soften them. It loosens up the dirt and dead skin cells. Use a gen­tle nail brush to clean the nails and the skin around them to re­move any traces of dirt. Wipe your nails and hands, and mas­sage some cu­ti­cle cream onto your nails. Then, use a cu­ti­cle pusher to push the cu­ti­cles back gently. Do not ex­ert too much pres­sure be­cause that may push the cu­ti­cles too far in and dam­age your nails. Once the cu­ti­cles are clear, wipe off the ex­cess cream. Lastly, mas­sage your hands with a hand mois­turiser. Use a rich and thick cream for intense mois­tur­i­sa­tion. Fo­cus es­pe­cially on your fin­gers and the area around your nails. Take a cotton pad and ap­ply a bit of nail pol­ish re­mover to your nails. Use a clear nail pol­ish as a base coat. A base coat helps the nail paint last long. Once the base coat is dry, ap­ply a thin coat of your favourite nail pol­ish on top of it. Once your nail pol­ish is dry, fin­ish it off by ap­ply­ing an­other layer of clear nail pol­ish on top of it. This shields the nail pol­ish from chip­ping or flak­ing. More­over, if you have done any nail art, the clear top coat will pro­tect that too. The tex­ture, smooth­ness and shape of your nails tell tales about your health and clean­li­ness. Nail care is im­por­tant. It not only re­flects your style but also your per­sonal hy­giene. Al­ways keep in mind that your per­sonal groom­ing is in­com­plete with­out nail care. Get ready to display your hands with ex­tra con­fi­dence af­ter us­ing some of the above-men­tioned tips. We


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