The nail is made up of a laminated protein called alpha-Keratin. Keratin is responsible for strengthening the nails and helps reduce nail damage by making the nail resilient. Nails grow from under the skin (cuticles) a reason why you should avoid filling or trimming your cuticles frequently, which could lead to an infection. Nail damage, on the other hand, comprises of breaking, splitting, chipping or peeling. As part of grooming, it is always advisable to keep the nails short and clean. However, even if you have long nails whether natural or artificial, you can reduce nail damage by applying the following tips.
- Eat healthily
The basic rule of thumb in maintaining a healthy looking appearance is eating healthy. It also applies to nails even if they are made of dead cells. Nutrients and vitamins like Biotin, iron, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B, C, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, helps support the formation, growth and development of strong new nail cells. Therefore, if ever you sense a change in nail texture or notice a change in appearance (yellow, green, brown) it could indicate nutrients deficiencies, fungal infection or a symptom of diseases such as diabetes, a thyroid condition or psoriasis.
- Clean and moisturize.
For healthy looking nails use a nail brush with gentle bristles to clean above, beneath and along the fold where the nails meet the skin. After cleaning, use a lotion, or baby oil to moisturize your nails. This will prevent dry nails which can lead to splitting and chipping.
- Wear gloves
Water dehydrates the nails. Therefore, when carrying out chores that require you to come into contact with water for longer periods, use rubber gloves. Such chores could involve washing clothes, utensils or other outdoor chores that expose nails to dirt, leading to dry and brittle nails which are prone to breakage.
- Use a nail polish
While it is known that a nail polish/nail hardener may be harmful to your nails due to toluene-sulfonamide-formaldehyde resin, which makes nails drier, a proper nail polish application prevents dryness and nail discolouration caused by nail polish.
A proper nail polish application consists of a base coat, to provide a base for smooth application and preventing chipping, one or two coatings of your nail polish, and a top coat. The base coat also helps against nail discolouration while a top coat provides shine and resistance to chipping.
- Nail polish removers
With the application of nail polish comes the aftermath, the nail polish remover. It is always advisable to minimize the use of nail polish remover due to the presence of harmful solvents in its ingredients. Acetone, alcohol and acetates present in nail polish removers can dry out the nails therefore after use always do a rinse out and moisturize the nail bed for healthy-looking nails.
- Artificial nails
While artificial nails add an aesthetic value to your hands and feet in general, they can lead to thin, brittle and damaged natural nails if worn without the proper application. Here are a few things you should know to ensure your natural nails remain healthy, strong and rehydrated when opting for artificial nails.
- Avoid trimming your cuticles which can lead to bacteria and other infections
- Use soak-off gel nails rather than file-off gel nails. Soak-off gel nails are flexible hence easier on the nail, which reduces cracking.
- Opt for LED curing light than UV light to harden gel nails. According to dermatologists LED light emits lower levels of UV radiation and cures more quickly reducing the rate of UV exposure.
If your nail continues to show signs of peeling, soak them in olive oil for 15 minutes daily.
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