Nails provide an external sign of health: weak, brittle nails often signal a nutritional deficiency. Ignore them and you could end up with painful ingrown nails or a fungal infection. Follow these tips to ensurethey’re healthy.
- To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry.
- Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It’s thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles.
- Or use olive oil – it also works to moisturize your nails.
2. Wear rubber gloves
- Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash the dishes.
- Most household chores, from scrubbing the bathroom to washing the dishes, as well as gardening, are tough on your nails.
- To protect your fingers from dirt and harsh cleaners, cover them with rubber gloves at chore time.
- For extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the gloves.
3. Trim straight across
- Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.
- This is extra important if you have diabetes.
4. Dry thoroughly
- Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes.
- Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering.
- Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection.
5. Keep boots dry
- Air out your work boots and running shoes.
- Better still, keep two pairs of each and switch between them so you’re never putting your feet into damp, sweaty shoes, which may lead to fungal infections.
6. Cotton socks
- Wear 100 per cent cotton socks.
- They’re best for absorbing dampness, thus preventing fungal infections.
7. Take vitamins
- To make your nails as strong and resilient as horse’s hooves, take 300 micrograms of the B vitamin biotin four to six times a day.
- Long ago, vets discovered that biotin strengthened horses’ hooves, which are made from keratin, the same substance as human nails.
- Swiss researchers found that people who took biotin every day for just over five months had firmer, harder nails.
In a study, 63 per cent of people who took biotin developed stronger nails.
8. File right
- File your nails correctly.
- To keep your nails strong, avoid filing in a back-and-forth motion – go in one direction only.
- Never file just after a shower or bath – wet nails break more easily.
9. Massage nails
- Massage your nails to keep them extra-strong and shiny.
- Nail buffing increases blood supply to the nail, which stimulates the matrix of the nail to grow.
10. Use polish
- Polish your nails, even if it’s just with a clear varnish. It protects them.
- If you prefer colour, use a base coat, two thin coats of colour and a top coat.
- The colour should last at least seven days but should be removed after ten days.