9 Dos and Don’ts of Growing Healthier and Stronger Nails

I’ve always been very careful about looking after my nails – I wear gloves when I wash up, I file and buff them regularly, I condition my cuticles and use hand cream on a daily basis. Even so, they take a beating and recently I’ve found that they’re peeling so badly that my nail polish was flaking off with the top layer of the nail within a day of painting them (my manicure usually lasts me 4 or more days at least).

I’m busy trialing Sally Hansen Miracle Cure to help improve the situation but I also spotted this helpful article on the Huffington Post last week and thought I’d share it with you. Deborah Lippmann, founder and creative director of the eponymous luxury beauty line, and Dr. Ava Shamban, dermatologist and author, share their top tips on growing healthier and stronger nails.

Deborah Lippmann
Deborah Lippmann

1. Don’t cut your cuticles

Lippmann is a big believer that cutting the cuticles is not the way to go. “Your skin is your body’s largest organ and your cuticles are the end of the skin – they are meant to be there to act as a barrier for bacteria,” she said.

A safer alternative is to push cuticles back using an exfoliating and waterless treatment  (try Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover). Apply the product liberally to all nails where the skin meets the nail and use a cuticle pusher to gently push back.

2. Don’t saw nails back and forth

Remember to look at your hands from every angle and to file from each outside edge toward the center of the nail. Never saw back and forth on the tip of the nail, as this will weaken nails.

3. Don’t use nails as tools

When a pair of scissors aren’t within reach, you may use a nail or two to open up a letter or box. This is a bad idea because you risk bending the nail back, among many other things. “The white area, referred to as the stress area, will eventually weaken and break. So make a conscious effort to pay close attention to how you use nails,” said Lippmann.

4. Do eat a well-balanced diet

Diet plays a huge role in all functions of the body. To attain strong and healthy nails, Dr. Shamban suggests eating plenty of protein. “Nails are made out of protein, so the first thing you can try is adding more to your diet. Eat lean poultry, fish, beef and pork, as well as spinach and other vegetables that contain protein,” she explained. Drinking lots of water is also important to keep nails and cuticles hydrated.

Deborah Lippmann

5. Don’t peel off old nail polish

Picking away at old or chipped nail polish will aggravate the nail bed and lead to damage. Using too much lacquer causes polish to peel. “If you apply very thin coats, letting the polish dry in between each layer so that the solvents evaporate, it will wear better and last longer,” said Lippmann. She recommends waiting at least a minute or two between each coat, and never skip base or top coat.

6. Do get manicures

A weekly manicure (even for short nails ) is key. “Grooming your nails will make any shade look great, whether you do it at home or go to the salon,” said Lippmann. “The most important thing is to start with a proper manicure so that the nails are the same length and shape, and cuticles are pushed back.”

7. Do keep nails and hands moisturised

Unless you suffer from severely dry skin, you may not hydrate nearly as much as you should. But your nails would look a lot better if you did. “Moisturise your hands with hand cream or cuticle oil every time you wash your hands,” said Lippmann. Dr. Shamban adds, “Coconut oil also works well to soften cuticles, moisturise hands and prevent hangnails.”

8. Don’t overdo it with the hand sanitizer

“You should apply it on the skin, but be careful not to put it on the nails,” said Lippmann. “Don’t overuse it because it’ll really dry out the hands and the nails if you’re not careful when applying. Soap is also drying to some degree, so when putting anything on your hands just be careful of your nails and cuticles.”

9. Do be cautious of chemicals in nail products

That pretty shade of pink or red nail polish that’s sitting on the shelf at the nail salon may be loaded with hazardous materials or chemicals. Dr. Shamban recommends using a chemical-free nail polish. She adds, “Today, there are many lines that are vegan and chemical-free, SpaRitual is a great line.”

Lippman’s nail polish formula is 5-free, which means that it is free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalates, camphor and formaldehyde resin. “Some brands use formaldehyde resin, and can say they are formaldehyde free. The resin is a lesser strength, but it’s still formaldehyde — look at the label and really make sure that the product is free of chemicals.”

Do you have any tips for keeping nails strong and healthy?