We generally look at hands a lot without even thinking about it, as it is a major part of our body language. Having well-groomed nails and hands has always been a trade of beauty and health. Healthy nails are smooth, clean in color and are without grooves or pits.
Avoid destructive nail habits
Biting nails, also known as onychophagia, is an involuntary stress response for many people. The habit will ruin your nails, and over time create uneven and bumpy nails. To break the habit, paint your nails with nail polish, or use a nail product designed for this purpose that will give the nails a foul taste.
Picking your polish
It can be tempting to start picking and scratching your nail polish off, when the polish begins to chip. This habit can remove the actual top layer of your nail bed, which weakens the nails. Also wearing nail polish for too long can dry out the nail – get the habit of removing your polish as soon as it starts chipping.
Picking at your cuticles
Cutting and eagerly pushing your cuticles will make them dry and ragged. Cuticles are a part of your skin that protect the nails from infection and therefor shouldn’t be removed. Instead, accept that they are there and clean and moisturize them to lessen the appearance. You can moisturize your hands during the day with a hand lotion, or use a thicker ointment or nail oil at night to moisturize your cuticles. A more gentle alternative to cutting your cuticles can be to push them back very gently with a wooden orange stick – if you must.
Using your nails as tools
Peeling off stickers, opening boxes, unfastening key rings etc. can easily make your nails break and hurt. Be mindful when doing similar tasks and take the time to use tools meant for the task.
Not using cleaning cloves
Getting your nails soaked in water and cleaning products can dry them out and make them fragile. If you don’t like to wear rubber gloves, try cotton-lined gloves or wearing satin/cotton cloves underneath.
Not keeping your nails moisturized
Hands is one of the true tellers of a persons age, as we tend to neglect them a lot. Break the habit by applying a hand lotion with SPF in the morning, and bring a travel sized bottle with you to reapply when your hands feel dry. Avoid soaps that are foaming or clear, as they tend to dry out your skin. Instead go for milky soaps containing natural anti-bacterial ingredients like tea tree oil and eucalyptus. If you have the habit of sanitizing your hands with hand sanitizer or alcohol, be sure to apply hand lotion afterwards to rehydrate. Intensify the moisture level by applying a thick moisturizer in the evening or a hydrating hand mask.
Using gel polish
Gel manicures can last a very long time, but removing the polish can be quite devastating to your nails. It will require a soak in acetone for 15 min. to remove, often combined with scrubbing using a metal tool. This will leave your nails dried out, brittle and fragile.
Nail polish – good or bad?
There seems to be two camps when it comes to nail polish.
In the ‘Camp Pro’ it is argued that the nails are dead creatine and that nail polish can be applied to protect the nails from chipping and strengthen the nails. Also applying nail polish protects the nails from being wet, which makes them very fragile.
In the ‘Camp Against’ it is argued that toxic chemicals in nail polish can enter the body through the nails. Those in the outer corner of ‘Camp Against’ won’t trust any nail polish and warn pregnant woman not to use nail polish, as some toxins are believed to cause birth defects (toluene/dibutyl phthalate DBP).
Some in the ‘Camp Against’ will however argue that you can use nail polish, but that it is a matter of avoiding these chemical compounds, for a nail polish to be safe;
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
- Diphenyl phosphate (DPHP)/triphenyl phosphate (TPP)
- Parabens (synthetic preservatives)
Another concern is the yellowing of the natural nail, that some nail polishes can leave. Darker colored nail polishes can stain the nail, especially dark red where the pigment is derived from iron oxide(rust). The staining can however be avoided with the use of a clear base coat.
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