While no nail care regime works the same for everyone, there are a few simple things you can do to improve the health of your nails and cuticles.
1). Keep them polished! Even if it is just a clear or base coat, it adds layers of strength, and protects them from irritants in the external environment like water and surfactants.
- It is especially important to always shower with polished nails. Nails are softer and more vulnerable when wet, and can become dried out after exposure to all that water. When wet, nails can even be torn by strands of your hair, for example, but having them polished goes a long way to prevent this.
2). Eat a healthy diet. You want your diet to be rich in fat, protein, and include plenty of calcium. Plenty of modern nutritional research supports the idea that low-fat diets are actually detrimental to health, and that fats should make up a large portion of your nutritional intake. Fats are great for skin, hair, and nails. (Anecdotally, I can tell you that my skin and nails improved dramatically when I radically increased the fat in my diet.)
- This goes without saying, but drink plenty of water! This will help prevent nail and skin dryness.
3). Use a nail treatment as a base coat.
- I've had particularly awesome results using the original OPI- Nail Envy, but other treatments that I've heard are great are any by NailTek, and Nailtique Formula 3. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works for you.
4). Take Biotin or a pre-natal supplement! This can work like magic to repair peeling or weak nails, and it also makes nails grow extremely quickly.
- You do have to be consistent and take it every day, and it may be a couple of months before you notice results, but Biotin does work. I currently take 1,000 mcg per day.
5). Proper Filing/ Shaping Technique. Don't file back and forth in a sawing motion, especially if your nails are thin or weak. It puts a lot of stress on the nail. Instead, file in one direction at each edge of the nail, coming together toward the middle.
- Invest in a glass file. Ordinary emery boards are very coarse and can be damaging to nails. Some people have success taking length down with a normal file, and then using the glass file for shaping and beveling.
6). Moisturize! This is probably the most important thing you can do for your nails and cuticles! The nail bed grows from the cuticle, so it's important to keep the cuticle supple and healthy.
- You should moisturize a few times during the day, after showers or washing your hands, and especially before bedtime. At bedtime, you can use a heavier moisturizer or balm since it will have time to sink in.
- In between manicures, you should also take some time to moisturize the naked nail bed.
- Some products I really like:
- For sporadic throughout-the-day moisturizing, I love Gold Bond Ultimate Softening with Shea Butter. Actually I think anything with Shea Butter is particularly good.
- For cuticles, I LOVE Badger Cuticle Care Soothing Shea Butter. This stuff is awesome, and is absorbed quickly. I also like the more popular Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme.
- For intensive night-time moisturizing, I like Lush's Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter. Although I hate the smell, it's pretty great at overnight repair. Another rather miraculous overnight treatment is Pure Coconut Oil.