Beautiful nails and hands are a reflection of your health and the good beauty habits you either choose to follow or ignore. If you find yourself a constant victim of dry, split cuticles or broken nails, the problem isn’t that you’re simply unlucky in this department; it likely has a lot more to do with what you are–and aren’t–doing to keep your hands and nails in tip-top shape.
If achieving strong, glossy nails and soft hands is your priority, nail expert Autumn Munter of Frenchies Modern Nail Care lets us in on six of the worst things you can do to weaken and even destroy your nails so that you never make the same mistakes again.
1. Picking at your nails. If your pesky sharp cuticles are getting caught in your stockings, the worst thing you can do is, literally, take matters into your own hands. “Making an open sore on the cuticles can lead to an infection and augment the problem,” Munter says. A better solution is to apply cuticle cream daily and treat yourself to regular manicures.
2. Being impatient with gel manicures. We love the long-lasting, glossy effect of a gel manicure, but removing the stubborn polish is another story. “If you get a gel manicure, be careful not to pull the gel polish off,” Munter says. “Doing so removes layers of your nail, making the nails more weak and brittle.” Instead, be patient and soak your nails in nail polish remover for as long as it takes until the polish can be easily removed with cotton.
3. Neglecting to moisturize nails. You may apply cuticle cream like it’s about to be discontinued tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you’re treating your nails to the same hydrating treatment. “Not maintaining the nail plate moisture can also cause problems,” Munter says. “Keeping the nail plate moist is just as important as putting lotion on your skin.”
4. Skipping out on pedicures. Don’t think of pedicures as a lavish luxury, but as a health treatment for your feet–one that can prevent problems later on. “Don’t skip the pedicure–even you, guys,” Munter says. “Nail specialists can clean under the nail removing any bacteria and dirt, and really know how to cut the nail to avoid painful ingrown nails.”
5. Refusing to break free of your undying devotion to acrylics. I’m sorry to have to break this news to acrylic lovers, but experts agree it isn’t the best thing for your nails. “The heavy weight and chemicals make the nail plate weak, thin and dry,” Munter says. “Removing acrylic nails also peels more layers off your natural nail causing damage.”
6. Skipping a base coat. If you’e pressed for time and racing to get pretty, you may be forgetting one of the most important mani steps of all: a clear base coat. “The base coat actually protects the natural nail, and simply applying polish can stain the nail plate, dry it out, and allow the chemicals to be absorbed into the nail plate,” Munter says.
Vow to never commit these six nail sins again and your sweet reward will be healthier, shinier and stronger nails.