By Beauté Absolue
People often take the condition of their nails for granted. Other than smashing a hammer or dropping a heavy object on one, what could go wrong?
The answer is: plenty. Here are some tips on how to keep your fingernails healthy, strong & beautiful.
One thing you should know is that while nails are relatively hard, they aren’t impervious. Harsh cleaning liquids, detergent-type shampoos and acetone-based polish removers, for example, can strip away moisture and turn your nails brittle. Wear gloves, the experts say, and don’t overdo the hand washing. Healthy nails are flexible. Another hint: take supplements of a B vitamin called biotin, which appears to make nails stronger.
Women may want to forego nail extensions, by the way, because they can lead to fungal or bacterial infections. A podiatrist, dermatologist or good nail technician at a salon will also tell you that overly aggressive cutting of the cuticle—the flap of tissue over the base of a nail—will make infections more likely. Nail-care tools used by different people may transmit infections. To avoid this, have your own set, and considering using new contactless methods such as gel and cream cuticle removers instead of cuticle scissors.
Because feet are inside shoes and socks much of the day—meaning a dark, moist environment—fungus on toenails is another major problem. Solution: Air your feet out whenever possible, and see a dermatologist if the infection is stubborn. Tight shoes (or the wrong ones) and intensive physical activity can also radically affect toenail health. Ingrown nails are a potential hazard, and anyone who’s had one knows that even walking can become an excruciating exercise. Cutting toenails straight across is the best way to avoid an ingrown nail—and the infection that may follow.
To see the surprising things your nails can reveal about your overall health and wellness, please read the companion piece to this one, “What Are Your Nails Telling You?”