Like a great new haircut or a terrific skin care regimen, healthy, well-manicured nails are an integral part of a neat, pulled-together appearance – one that can work as an asset in both the social and the business world. To help set the record straight and get you on the road to beautiful nails — three top dermatologists offer these some tips for achieving healthy, well groomed, elegant nails.
- Don’t cut or manipulate cuticles.
Whether you have your nails professionally groomed or do them yourself, the No. 1 recommendation is to leave your cuticles alone, says Dana Stern, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
“The cuticle is the natural barrier to fungus and bacteria — and once you breach that, protection is lost,” she says. This will not only make cuticles look worse red, swollen, and ragged but may also land you a nasty infection that harms the nail bed and leads to permanent nail damage. And while cutting cuticles holds the most potential for harm, pushing them back can cause problems as well.
2.Use Argan oil for Nail Bed
Whether your nails are stiff and brittle or flexible and weak, argan can help them grow strong. Use this treatment once or twice per day (ideally in the morning and again before bed), and you should begin to see improvement within a week. Simply put a drop of oil on the index finger of one hand, then dab that onto each fingernail of the opposite hand. Gently rub into each nail, then repeat for the other hand. Less is more when it comes to argan, so use only a bit and let it absorb fully into the nail.
3.Use nail hardeners sparingly or not at all.
“The take-home message here is that a lot of them do more damage than good,” says Stern. She reminds us that these products are not studied clinically, so most claims are not backed up by science. Unless nails are exceptionally weak and fragile, she says, most people don’t benefit from a nail hardener. Healthy nails are flexible nails, she says, so to keep yours from breaking, avoid anything that makes them more brittle.
4.Limit professional manicures.
While it’s hard to beat the pampering luxury of a pedicure or manicure, a study just completed by Stern and colleagues at Mt. Sinai showed those who indulged regularly were the most likely to suffer from dry, brittle nails. The doctors theorize that exposure to more chemicals and harsher ingredients may be one reason. Jamal adds that women who get manicures frequently suffer from chronic nail bed infections, evidenced by puffy, reddened areas around the base of the nail.
One way to reduce problems say the experts, is to take your own tools to the manicure. This, says Jamal, will definitely cut down on the risk of infections and help ensure a healthier experience.
5.Avoid acetone-based polish removers.
“The one product that all dermatologists agree you should avoid if you have brittle nails is acetone nail polish remover. It has been documented time and again that it strips the nails, causing them to become brittle — which is something we found in our study as well,” says Stern.