Here are the five things that you should remember for healthier and stronger nails.
1. Keep your hands very clean.
After you wash your hands, make sure nails are thoroughly grime-free by first removing all traces of polish with an acetone-free remover, which won't dry out nails. Apply soap to a clean toothbrush, then gently scrub nails and surrounding skin to remove dirt and exfoliate any dead skin without harsh, drying chemicals, advises Ava Shamban, M.D., a dermatologist in Los Angeles and author of Heal Your Skin.
2. Be gentle on your nails.
Your nails are delicate, so treat them that way. Avoid using metal tools under nails, as too much digging can cause the nail plate to separate from the skin (a condition called onycholysis), common for people over 50, says Dr. Stern. Cleaning with chemicals and washing dishes by hand can also weaken nails. Guard them by wearing rubber, vinyl, nitrile or plastic gloves, says New York City dermatologist Janet Prystowsky, M.D., Ph.D.
3. Read the labels on your polish.
Just as with makeup 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.
4. Prioritize nail health over length.
Long nails are elegant, but if you're someone who has struggled with hangnails or breakage, Dr. Shamban recommends that you keep your nails short — at least for period of time as you allow them to grow stronger. A shorter style with rounded edges looks neat and tends to be easier to manage, so you won't have to subject your nails to extra wear and tear. As long as each nail is uniform in shape and matches its nine neighbors, you won't miss the added length.
5. Always keep a nail file on hand.
If your job or workout routine exposes your nails to potential damage, Dr. Prystowsky advises keeping a nail file handy for on-the-spot buffing of any rough edges. For the smoothest finish, work in one direction with the grain of your nail.
Instead of an emory board, which can cause nails to peel and snag, try a glass (also called crystal) nail file. "A glass file will create an even edge to the nail and can be used on the weakest, brittle, and damaged nails," Dr. Stern says.
By Abdelrahman and Rhiannon| May 3, 2019
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