How to keep nails healthy with do’s, don’ts, and natural products
Posted on November 6, 2023 Written by: 100% PURE®
Healthy nails are an integral part of a neat, pulled-together appearance. They can also be markers of your overall health; unhealthy nails can signal unrelated concerns like anxiety, vitamin deficiencies, or even heart disease. But nail – and toenail – maintenance doesn’t have to be hard, and can actually benefit your overall health.
To help strengthen nails and get them looking flawless, we can start by analyzing some basic lifestyle habits. We’re covering common nail concerns and how to avoid them, plus nail-worthy tips and products to get healthy nails in no time.
Flaunting strong, healthy nails can be a big confidence-booster – but sometimes, our nails aren’t as perfect as we’d like them to be. Though it’s easier to spot red flags with our hair or our skin, it can be trickier to recognize signs of nail distress. Keep reading for the top causes of unhealthy nails and their causes.
Onychoschizia is a fancy word for a condition in which nails become brittle, and split or break easily. The most common cause is repeated wetting and drying of nails, which can make them drier and more likely to split.
First, try using gloves whenever nails are exposed to water for an extended period – like when you’re doing dishes.
Second, a high quality natural hand cream will help by replenishing moisture levels, and by forming a natural protective barrier over cracked or compromised skin. Our Coconut Hand Buttercream can nourish and soften your skin and cuticles in a snap – and it smells delicious!
It’s all fun and games until someone breaks a nail! Soft or weak nails will break easily or snap if they’re bent too far. Avoid too much moisture or overexposure to detergents, household cleaners, and harsh nail polish removers containing acetone.
Wear gloves when you’re cleaning, to avoid exposing your hands to chemicals that can weaken your nails. You can also opt for natural cleaning products, which by design are meant to be gentler on skin and nails.
Whether you opt for polished perfection or an au natural look, one thing’s for sure: nobody wants discolored nails. A yellow tint, green, blue – and yes, even black – are all some not-so-pretty results of nail discoloration.
Yellow nails – relatively common – are usually a result of keeping polish on too long, while the other discolorations could be the result of a deficiency, trauma, or infection. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician if you have concerns about the color of your nails.
There are few things as annoying (or as painful) as hangnails. This distracting pain-in-the-nail is actually caused by a small tear in the skin, near the edge of a fingernail or toenail. Hangnails can be caused by a variety of things, from biting your nails to using harsh soap and detergents.
A little TLC for your hands and nails can go a long way. Our ultra-rich, non-greasy French Lavender Hand Buttercream is formulated to deeply moisturize hard-working hands with the calming scent of French lavender.
It can be easy to miss those tiny half-skin moons at the bottom of our nail beds. That moon of transparent skin is known as the cuticle, and is important for sealing the skin to the nail – and keeping harmful bacteria out. When they get dry or start to recede, this can be a sign that your cuticle has become too dry.
To care for your cuticles, soak hands and feet in warm water for 10 minutes. After towel drying, apply Nail & Cuticle Oil to prevent dryness or irritation from fungus and hangnails. If you think something besides dryness is causing your cuticles to recede – or slowly disappear – talk to your doctor.
If pain came to mind describing an ingrown toenail, you hit the nail on the head! An ingrown toenail is caused by the pressure from inverted growth of the nail edge into the skin of the toe. The most common cause wearing too-tight shoes, or improper grooming and trimming of the nail.
For temporary relief, soak your foot in saltwater daily for 10 minutes. Don’t cut your nails too short, and avoid scraping and clearing out the nail edges with anything sharp.
Many less-than-desirable nail conditions can be avoided with proper finger and toenail care. The quickest route to stronger, healthier nails is through simple lifestyle changes – and kicking some bad habits, such as using your nails as a built-in pocket knife!
#1: Take breaks from nail polish
When was the last time you gave your nails some time off from nail polish? Let your fingernails breathe by removing polish once a week, or as soon as they start to chip. Toenails can go 2-3 weeks. Otherwise, you could be left with brittle or discolored nails from prolonged wear.
Between paintings and mani/pedis, give your nails at least 1-2 weeks off in between.
#2: Trim and manicure nails correctly
Cut nails straight across for healthy growth, and to prevent ingrown toenails. Avoid trimming nails too short, rounding the edges, or cutting the toenails into a V-shape.
You should also never cut your cuticles, and only push them back as needed. And if you use an emery board to file your nails, be sure to swipe across in one direction rather than back and forth (this can split the nail).
#3: Avoid harsh products
Harsh products like acetone can weaken the nails, while leading to discoloration and brittleness. Gel polish and adhesives can cause long-term harm to the nail bed and cuticles, especially if they are peeled or pried off the nail.
#4: Clean and trim nails properly
When it comes to keeping hands and nails clean, make sure you use products meant to protect hydration. Use a hydrating hand soap, a gentle yet effective hand sanitizer gel, or a hand sanitizer spray that’s packed with humectants.
Regular trimming can also help prevent common issues like hangnails and ingrown toenails.
#5: Clean manicure and pedicure tools
To prevent bacterial growth, drop your tools into a jar of alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and allow them to sit for a few minutes. Let them dry, then store in an airtight container.
#6: Change your socks regularly
Sweaty feet do more than just smell up your socks! When left on for too long, socks provide the perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. Bring extra socks to change into if you know you’re going to get your sweat on!
#7: Keep cuticles moisturized
Healthy cuticles equal longer, stronger nails. Keep them moisturized and protected with cuticle oil to prevent dryness or worse – bacterial or fungal infections.
#8: Wear the correct footwear
Wear shoes that fit properly to avoid discomfort or ingrown toenails. Be sure to wear flip flops in public showers to reduce the risk of infections. If your feet will be exposed to water, wear waterproof shoes or water shoes if you don’t mind getting wet. Just be sure to keep a pair of dry socks and shoes on hand for when you’re done!
#9: Avoid nail biting
For some, this habit can be hard to break – but refrain from biting your nails. These habits can damage the nail bed, cause abnormal growth or worse, permanently damage keratin: the tissue that helps your nails grow.
#10: Don’t use your nails as tools
Avoid using your nails like a Swiss Army knife. Try using the pad of your fingertip to open cans, instead of your nails. When it comes to simple tasks like opening shipping boxes or peeling off labels, use a tool instead. You’ll save your nails or manicure if you do!
Get more tips on nail health and more:
3 Top Coat Products to Avoid on Your Nails
The Best Natural Nail Color Brands
How to Execute Dark French Tips
What are the signs of healthy nails?
Healthy nails are smooth, without pits or grooves. They have a consistent color and texture and are free of spots or discoloration. Generally, healthy nails are strong and flexible, indicating a well-nourished and cared-for nail bed and cuticle.
How can diet affect the health of my nails?
Diet plays a critical role in nail health. Nails are made of a protein called keratin, and a diet rich in protein can help strengthen nails. Including biotin-rich foods like eggs, almonds, and whole grains, as well as vitamins A, C, D, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc, can promote nail health.
Can wearing nail polish too often damage my nails?
Frequently applying nail polish can lead to dry, brittle nails due to the chemicals in nail polish and removers. It’s essential to give nails a break between polishes, use acetone-free removers, and apply a base coat to protect nails from staining and chemical exposure.
What are the best practices for trimming and grooming nails?
For optimal nail health, trim nails regularly with sharp nail scissors or clippers, following the natural curve of the fingertips. Groom cuticles by gently pushing them back with a cuticle pusher after a shower or bath, and avoid cutting them. Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacterial growth.
How can I protect my nails from breakage and splitting?
To protect nails from damage, keep them properly moisturized with a good nail cream or cuticle oil. Avoid using your nails as tools to open or pry things. When doing chores, especially those involving water or chemicals, wear gloves to shield your nails from potential harm.