We all want pretty nails, right? It’s why we spend all that money on gel and regular manicures, or invest an obscene amount of our paychecks in new collections by OPI and Essie (or is that last part just me?). But, what we don’t realize is, while we’re so busy making our nail look pretty with all the lacquer, we’re actually doing serious damage to the foundation. That’s right: just as much as your body might need a juice cleanse or an all-green diet for a couple of days every now and then, you need a nail detox.
I know what you’re thinking: your winter nails have probably gotten a little bit gnarly, and you don’t want to bare all for the general public. I can sympathize (seriously, my nails are a horror show right now), but it’s really important that you give them a break. If you don’t let them breathe, then you’re allowing for future (and somewhat permanent) yellowing of the nails, dryness in the cuticles and some serious peeling and breakage that’s not only unseemly, but can also be painful. A good nail detox, though, entails so much more than just keeping your nails polish-free for a few days. Here are a few things you can do to take your nails from brittle and broken to healthy and fabulous:
1. Get that nail polish off. Now. The longer you keep old, chipped nail polish on your nails, the more they’re suffering. Take off the nail polish with the remover of your choice (if you can avoid acetone, that’s best, but it’s fine if you can’t or don’t want to), just, whatever you do, DON’T peel it off yourself. You’ll damage the top layer of your nails, and since that’s what everyone sees when they look at your hands, it’s a no-win option.
2. Take care of your cuticles. Making sure that your cuticles stay neat and moisturized is key in maintaining your nail health. You can use a special cuticle oil, argan oil or even coconut oil to care for the cuticles directly. If you want to go the extra mile, or if you’re suffering from dry skin around the nails, you can use your normal hand moisturizer in addition to the oil.
3. Be nice to your hands. If you really want your nails to recover, try not to do anything too strenuous with your hands. For example, if you’re washing dishes, gardening, or anything like that, just wear gloves. I’d also recommend keeping your nails as short as possible during this process–it’s a lot easier to keep them clean that way.
4. Polish them the right way. After a week or so of freedom, you’re totally free to paint your nails however you want. It’s important, though, that you take the extra 30 seconds and apply a good base and top coat. Not only will they help your manicure last longer, but it keeps the polish directly off of your nails so you can avoid any damage or yellowing.