What with regular manicures, and even those of the gel variety, weakened nails happen to the best of us. You know the feeling: You take off your polish only to find a brittle, sad-looking surface beneath. Fortunately, nails are pretty forgiving, and provided you care for them properly, they’ll be back in shape in no time. These six tips and tricks are key for nursing your nails back to much-needed health, so you can rock that polish again ASAP.
Moisture with oil.
All too frequently we spend time on our face cleansing and moisturizing routines while the rest of us falls to the wayside. Just as you wouldn’t give your face a scrub without following up with moisturizer, think of your nails and hands the same way. Invest in a designated nail oil or use your favorite oil, like olive, coconut, or jojoba, to rub into your nails and cuticles whenever they’re feeling dry. Dry nails are more likely to crack, split, and peel, so diligence is key.
Choose your nail file wisely, as there are plenty of emery boards on the market that are just too rough on nails. If it feels too sandpaper-y to the touch, that’s not a good sign. Beyond that, be sure to file smoothly in one direction rather than back and forth to minimize damage as well as jagged edges.
Leave your cuticles alone.
Once you start cutting your cuticles or pushing them back, it starts a kind of vicious cycle, where you not only get used to the way it looks and feels and can’t go without it, but causes the cuticle to grow back stronger. Opt instead to simply leave them alone—the cuticle protects the nail from infection, and cutting them can result in painful swelling, redness, and irritation.
Acetone nail polish removers are the most efficient way to remove nail polish, but the strong solvent is extremely harsh and drying to both your nails and the surrounding skin. Polish removers that don’t contain acetone aren’t nearly as effective as those that do, so they definitely require a little more effort, but if you have dry nails or nails that are prone to splitting, it’s wise to steer clear of acetone. Regardless of which formula you choose to remove your polish, moisturizing your hands and nails afterward is key.
Limit exposure to water.
Just as prolonged exposure to water is drying to your skin and hair, it’s drying to your hands and nails, too. Always wear gloves when you do housework, especially when you wash dishes, to avoid drying out your nails… or ruining your manicure.
Apply a nail strengthener.
If your nails are especially weak, it’s a good idea to stay proactive about protecting and strengthening the surface of your nails. Even if you’re steering clear of polish for the time being, it’s helpful to regularly apply a conditioning base coat, like Perfect Formula Repair Coat. It’s packed with ingredients like jojoba oil, keratin, and biotin to thicken the nail and create (the illusion of) smoothness.
Read more from Daily Makeover: You’re Doing It Wrong: Polishing Your Nails