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Do you use your nails as tools (to pry open soda cans, etc.)? Do you wash dishes without wearing gloves? Do you like to grow your nails long? Do you bite your nails or pick at your cuticles?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you’re putting your nails at risk. All of these activities can cause nails to wear thin and split as well as damage the nail bed, so if you do them, stop immediately and follow celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann’s advice: “Think of hand care the same way you think of skin care.”
Baby your nails
Every time you put on hand cream, use it to moisturize your nails too. Use a cuticle oil to moisturize the cuticle, which is the tissue that overlaps your nail plate at the base of your nail. It protects the new keratin cells that slowly emerge from the nail bed, according to Mayo Clinic experts. For intense night treatment, slather on a moisturizer before bed and cover hands with cotton spa gloves (try Sephora Moisturizing Gloves, $8)
Always use a top coat
Extend the life of your polish and protect unpolished nails with a good top coat. Celebrity nail artist Jenna Hipp recommends Orly Magnifique, $5.99: “Definitely a must-have for consistently beautiful and luminous nails. Not only does this refresh your nails, it’s formula works to make nails stronger.”
Avoid products that contain sulfonamide or formaldehyde and keep nail polish remover use down to twice a month max. (Removers strip natural oil and moisture from your nails, which can cause them to separate, split and peel over time.)
More top nail care products to try
Try using the following products - all highly rated to nurse your nails back to good health:
Sally Hansen Nail Growth Miracle, $7.99
Orly Nail Defense, $8.25
Sally Hansen Triple Strong Advanced Gel Nail Fortifier, $5.99
PHYTO Phytophanere Dietary Supplements For Hair, Nails, Skin and Lashes, $50
According to Mayo Clinic experts, nails grow about 0.1 millimeter a day, which means that it takes a fingernail about four to six months to fully regenerate. Keep this in mind while trying new products.
See a doctor if…
You’ve tried the solutions you just read about and your nails still seem unhealthy. Healthy nails are smooth, uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. If you see vertical ridges, which can grow more prominent with age, or occasional white spots or lines, which are caused by damage, don’t pick up the phone just yet. These are generally harmless and will grow out. (Pro tip: You can smooth vertical ridges gently and bring out a healthy-looking shine with a nail buffer such as CND Glossing Block, $3.50, but do this no more than once a week.)
If you have nail discoloration, horizontal indentations or if weak nails persist despite your best efforts, see your doctor as there may be a medical explanation such as protein deficiency.
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