Those of you sporting long, luxurious talons are probably well-aware that beauty is neither cheap nor easy--you have to take good care of those nails if you want them to stay in prime condition! Let's go through the Dos and Don'ts of long nail care, starting with the Dos.
- Use a nail strengthener. Now, don't get carried away...just apply a thin coat of a good strengthener (Nailtiques is a great one) no more than once a day. I know it's tempting to layer it on like spackle when your nails are flaky and thin, but too much strengthener will just make your nails brittle and prone to breakage.
- Always wear gloves when you're washing dishes, cleaning, or gardening. Harsh chemicals can weaken and break your nails, so if you must do household chores, don those rubber gloves! Another great thing to do before hitting the dirt is to dig your nails into a bar of soap. Yes, I'm serious- if your nails are full of bacteria-fighting soap, it's that much harder for dirt and grime to sneak under there while you're working (and it's also that much easier to clean them later).
- Moisturize every time you wash your hands. Keep a bottle of hand lotion right next to your bottles of soap, and you'll form good moisturizing habits in no time. Do try not to mix them up though...it gets very messy.
- Rub a good moisturizer on your hands before bed every night. It'll work even better if you protect your freshly moisturized hands with gloves. You'll wake up in the morning with super-silky fingers!
- Get a professional manicure at least once a month.
- Take good care of your cuticles. Your cuticles are protective barriers that keep bacteria away from your nail beds, so keep them clean and moisturized! Gently push them back with an orangewood stick at least once a week, but never, EVER cut or trim them.
- Massage your nails and cuticles with oil daily. The oil will keep your hands in great condition, while the massage stimulates nail growth! And you thought your feet were the only thing that needed rubbing...how about that?
- Eat your protein and veggies. I'll bet you didn't think you were going to get a diet lecture here, did you? Sorry, but what you put into your body has a huge effect on how your nails grow out of it, so listen up! Make sure you eats lots of foods rich in calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B. Great choices include eggs, yogurt, spinach, garlic, and celery.
- Don't forget your essential fatty acids. Eat a handful of almonds or a small serving of fish every day, and watch your nails visibly improve within weeks!
- Drink at least 10-12 glasses of water every single day. No, soda does not count!
Now you know what you are supposed to do in order to grow long, healthy nails. So what aren't you supposed to do?
- Use your nails as tools. This means don't punch keyboards, press phone keys, open soda tabs, or do anything else with your nails that can be better accomplished with something in a toolbox or a junk drawer.
- File the corners of your nails. This practice breaks down the structure of your nail, and before you know it, you'll be flaking all over the place.
- File or cut your nails when they're damp. Wet nails are weaker than dry nails, and you risk doing major damage if you attack them with an abrasive surface while they're wet.
- Pick or bite at your nails, nail polish, or cuticles. I know you already know better than to do this, but it's worth a gentle reminder.
- Overexpose them to sunshine or chlorine. So, if you're headed to Miami for the summer, you'd better pack sunscreen and gloves.
Just remember that it takes a normal, healthy fingernail about six months to completely grow out, so be patient, be gentle, and be diligent!