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Things You Should Stop Doing

to Your Nails Now and Forever

Perhaps you're determined to stop biting your nails or peeling off your gel polish (it's a hard habit to break, I get it). Or maybe just want to maintain your nail health (yes, please!) or learn how to fake a just-from-the-salon type of mani (also yes). Whatever the case, you'll want to put nail pro (and Sally Hansen's Global Color Ambassador) Madeline Poole’s advice into action asap. Here are things you need to stop doing to your nails now to keep them in tip-top shape.

1. Stop peeling off your gel mani.

“The no. 1 thing I tell people not to do is peel off their gel manicure,” Poole says. “Because, as you peel the gel off, you end up peeling away super-thin layers of your nail along with the formula, which can cause divots that linger for months. Doing this can even cause your nail to peel after the fact, which will cause your polish to chip faster; plus, it just won’t look pretty.” Instead, Poole recommends soaking your nails in a bowl of acetone-based polish to loosen the gel from your nail bed. “Put a ton of cuticle oil on and around your nails first (to help hydrate them and the skin surrounding it), and soak your tips in the remover for 10 minutes,” she explains. Then, gently remove it using light pressure and the flat, slanted tip of an orange stick (a long wooden cuticle pusher) that you can pick up at any beauty supply shop or drugstore.

2. Stop cutting your cuticles.

If you have a hangnail on the side of your nail bed, it can sometimes be painful if you don’t get rid of it. However, if hangnails aren’t trimmed away properly, you can actually cause more to crop up. Poole’s advice: It’s better to never cut your cuticles and instead, apply a cuticle-removing formula over the perimeter of your nail bed, and then push your cuticle back using the flat tip of an orange stick or cuticle pusher. Then, gently remove the free-up dead skin with a tissue or the softest side of a buffing block to reveal a hangnail-free, clean-looking nail bed.

3. Stop using your other nails as chisels to
chip off your nail polish.

Anytime you purposely chip the paint off of your nails (whether it’s a nervous habit or you’re just finally over that burgundy lacquer), you chip away microscopic layers from your nail bed. This is bad for two reasons: (1) it gives your nail a rough texture even if you can’t see it with your naked eye, and (2) “you can cause trauma to, and even chip or break the tip, of the nail that you’re using as the ‘chisel,’” Poole adds. So, to keep from hacking away at your nail polish, keep individually wrapped nail polish remover pads in your purse or pick up a nail polish removing formula that takes off lacquer in seconds.

4. Stop getting water-based manicures.

Think of your nail bed as a sponge: Dip it in water, and it’ll absorb the liquid and expand. Then, as it dries, it shrinks back down to its original size. Now apply that same thinking to getting a water-based manicure. “When you soak your fingertips in water to soften your cuticles, your nail expands,” Poole explains. “This normally wouldn’t be a problem; however, if you’re applying polish before it shrinks back down, your lacquer will likely chip faster.” Rather than soaking your tips in water, Poole recommends applying oil or a cuticle-removing formula on the skin around your nail bed, pushing back your cuticles with an orange stick, and then sweeping them away with a tissue.

5. Stop putting nail polish remover in
your lacquer to thin it out.

"This tip is an old wives’ tale from way back when," Poole says. “Adding remover to any polish actually actually makes the paint chip faster and the pigment become foggy, because nail polish remover isn’t one of the ingredients in nail polish. So it just ends up making the paint look less vibrant versus turning your gummy polish smooth." If extending the life of your polish is your ultimate goal, get nail polish thinner and add a few drops to your favorite shade to make thick polish swipe on evenly again. “If you add too much thinner too often though, the longevity of your polish might not be as lengthy as if you didn’t use it,” Poole warns. “It won’t mess up the quality though.”

6. Stop getting acrylics.

Bottom line: Acrylics are really bad for your nails' health. Not only is the formula super drying, because it’s actually suffocating to your nail bed, the application process can also cause indentations on your tips from all of the rough prep that needs to be done by the nail tech to get the acrylic to adhere to your nails. “Let’s not forget to mention how bad it is to breathe in the acrylic powder, which is full of chemicals,” Poole adds. If you want to take your nail lengths to the next level while also keeping health risks at bay, Poole prefers press-ons. “They’re way less traumatizing to the nail — and you can do them yourself,” she adds.

7. Stop sawing your nails back and
forth when you file them.

"I usually liken sawing your nails back and forth to cutting your hair with a dull pair of scissors," she says. "When you aggressively saw your nails with a file, it makes the tip frayed versus a clean edge. You also have less control over the shape you're trying to create — oval, square, round, etc. — since your nail shaves down quicker when you file it too fast. "Sometimes if the manicurist is too aggressive with the file, you can even see your nail move back and forth, like a loose tooth,” she notes. This is exactly what you want to avoid — especially because all of the above is a gateway for peeling and premature breakage, since the harsh trauma of filing causes weakness.

8. Stop biting your nails.

Biting your nails can be compared to filing them improperly. Not only does gnawing on them make their edges frayed, soaking them in a liquid aka your saliva makes them super weak. Plus, the whole experience isn’t sanitary, especially because debris, dirt, and bacteria is lodged up under your nail and is possibly going into your mouth. Eek! Have a habit you can’t quit? Poole suggests getting one coat of clear gel on your nails because “it’s too thick to bite through.” Or, you can paint on a gross-tasting formula to deter you from putting your fingers in your mouth.

9. Stop painting over oily nails.

Sure, you want your nails and the skin surrounding your tips to be hydrated and hangnail-free, but applying polish over oily nail beds isn’t going to leave you with a longest-lasting manicure. “You want to start with the driest nails possible,” Poole instructs. “After you’ve done all of the steps — gently filed your nails, safely removed your cuticles, and moisturized your hands with oil or lotion — wipe only your nail beds down with a nail polish remover wipe (or dip a cotton swab into some remover and clear away any oil that way). Then, start with your base coat, add polish, and finish with top coat.

10. Stop shaking your polish to mix it up.

When your polish sits for too long without being used, it settles and the ingredients separate. To properly mix the polish together again, roll the bottle between your hands rather than shaking it, since the latter creates air bubbles in the formula that can also show up as tiny bubbles on your nails when you paint them.

By Carly Cardellino | February 28, 2017

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