A Perfect 10
Keep your nails healthy and in good shape
But when nails are splitting, peeling or your cuticles are dry, hands can look haggard and unattractive.
Keeping one’s nails in good shape is that much harder in the winter when regular hand-washing and exposure to cold temperatures can zap hands’ moisture and lead to nail woes.
Learn how to keep your hands and nails in good condition.
The problem: Weak nails
The solution: If your nails bend easily, consider taking a biotin supplement, says Lawrence A. Mark, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Take 2,500 micrograms per day to thicken and harden the nail. An added bonus? Biotin often makes hair grow faster, Mark says.
If your nails are thin and curl up like a spoon, it could be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia. In that case, Mark says, it’s best to be seen by a physician.
To protect your nails, consider a gel overlay on them, says Indianapolis manicurist Jazmynn Taylor.
“It acts as an acrylic,” she says.
The problem: Yellow nails
The solution: Yellow nails are most often caused by residue left behind by dark nail polish. Your best bet, Mark says, is to let the yellow grow out, which can take up to six months.
Yellow discoloration under the nail, often appearing as an oily spot, can be a sign of nail psoriasis, Mark adds.
The problem: Nail tips that peel
The solution: The medical term for this is onychoschizia, Mark explains, and it’s usually due to some type of irritant, like nail polish remover or continued exposure to water.
Consider using gloves when you wash dishes, and limit your use of polish remover. Strengthen nails by taking biotin or vitamin B, Mark suggests.
The problem: dry cuticles
The solution: When your cuticles and the skin on the sides of your nails always seems to be dry, it could simply be a matter of not moisturizing enough. Make sure you’re applying hand lotion after each time you wash your hands.
“It’s always good to keep cuticle oil with you,” Taylor says. Some cuticle oils come in pens, so you can dab it on whenever it’s convenient. She also recommends looking into a hand cream that has a thicker consistency.
Mark points out that dryness could signal an allergic reaction. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, thickening and scaly skin.
The problem: Ridged nails
The solution: Nails can be ridged either horizontally or vertically.
As one ages, vertical ridges become more common, Mark says.
“There’s nothing you can do about it other than buff the nails so they’re smooth,” he says.
Horizontal ridges, however, may indicate an underlying health condition, trauma or irritation and should be checked out by a physician.
No More Biting
If you consistently bite your nails, the good news is that doing so is not likely to cause long-term damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. But it’s not completely without risks.
Nail biting can exacerbate existing skin conditions, contribute to skin infections, and increase one’s risk of colds and other infections because of the spread of germs from nails and fingers to the mouth.
To stop your habit, the organization suggests the following:
> Avoid factors that can trigger nail biting, like boredom.
> Find healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety.
> Keep nails trimmed and manicured.
> Occupy your hands or mouth with alternatives, like chewing gum or cooking.
Like fashion, nail trends come and go.
Jonathan Cuellar, licensed nail technician and instructor at Honors Beauty College, explains what you’ll be seeing in the world of nails this year.
> Whether called crackle or shatter, these transforming top coats are still going strong. In fact, Cuellar says, “we can’t keep them in stock.”
Nearly every nail polish line offers a shatter top coat, making it easy to change the look of your manicure. They’re available in a wide range of colors, with black being the most popular, Cuellar says.
They are also a simple way to jump on the nail-art bandwagon, he adds.
> Spring usually brings with it a softer, more muted color palette, and this year is no exception. Expect to see subtle shades of light blue, mint green and gray, Cuellar says.
> Magnetics are gaining in popularity, Cuellar says, and he predicts that they’ll be the “next big thing.” While this polish is wet, you hold a magnet over it, which creates a design that you seal with top coat.
“It’s another way to feel glamorous,” Cuellar says, not to mention another way to try nail art.
> Though they may be better suited for the younger crowd, glitters are a great way to mix it up and add sparkle. For something less in-your-face, try a subtle glitter top coat.
> Cuellar foresees consumers moving toward natural nails and a greater awareness of salon cleanliness and the ingredients in their nail products.