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BeautyLife & Style

How to look after your nails

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A woman painting her nails. PA Photo/iStock.

By Katie Wright

If you struggle to get to the nail bar or just want to take more care of yourself it is important to make sure you are not doing more harm than good. Follow these expert tips and you’ll be ready for when you’re finally reunited with your manicurist… if you decide you want to go.

 

Cuticle care

“Looking after your cuticles is important to ensure healthy growth of the nails,” says Lynn Gray, in house nail expert at Mavala.

“Use a cuticle remover once a week, apply around the area and wait for a few minutes to let the product dissolve the dead cuticle skin. You can then gently push back the cuticle with an orange stick wrapped in cotton wool.”

Sordillo recommends using cuticle clippers, being careful not to go too far: “Make sure you only push back the cuticle area. Trim that off but nothing else – avoid cutting living skin.”

Follow that up with cuticle oil twice a day, says Sonia Hully, founder and CEO of Nailberry: “Moisturising cuticles day and night is the best way to keep nails in great condition. It helps hydrate, soften and protect cuticles, as well as fortify nails.”

 

Filing

Our experts agree that short and sweet is best if you want to have healthy nails and reduce the chance of chipping.

“Even if you’re trying to grow your nails, by regularly filing them, you will ensure they grow evenly, and a smooth edge will stop your nails catching, preventing nail breakages,” says Gray.

“Make sure you file in one direction, so you don’t overheat the nail plate. Also, bevel the end of the nail, which means filing vertically up and down the end of the nail to ensure a neat finish.”

 

What should you do if you peeled off your gel polish or acrylics and now your nails feel weak?

“The best thing to do is to cut your nails short using clippers, then you can file the rough spots,” says Sordillo. “Don’t buff your nails, unless you have rough nail plates, because if you’ve peeled your nails off, then you’ve already taken the top layers of your nails off.”

If you have acrylic extensions that have grown out, ideally you’ll need a specific tool to trim them, she adds: “You want to use a false nail cutter, which will cut the tip in one smooth motion, rather than a nail clipper, which involves having to cut both sides of the nail.”

 

Strengthening

As well as keeping them at a sensible length, you can repair damaged nails with a treatment.

“If your nails are flaking and weak, you need a nail hardener to strengthen them and reinforce the keratin,” Gray says. “If your nails are brittle and you find they easily break, then you need to hydrate the nails. Try applying cuticle oil to the nails every day, or apply a nail serum.”

Hully advises the little and often approach: “Apply a targeted nail treatment every two days for up to 10 days, to help nourish, protect and strengthen weak, splitting, dry or flaking nails.”

 

Polish

If you don’t need a strengthening treatment, regular nail polish can help to prevent chips and breaks, but it’s important to layer with base and top coats.

“A base coat will stop the discolouration of the nails and ensure your colour looks better for longer,” says Gray. “A top coat will add a perfect shine to your nails, and protect them from chipping. To really prolong the life of your mani, reapply top coat every two days, to freshen up your nails and reinforce the protection.”

 

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