Most people who paint their nails on the regular can probably agree that’s there nothing better than a fresh coat of polish—especially when you get it done at your favorite salon. The time spent there is rejuvenating, and your nails (and, by extension, you!) seem to take on a new persona when covered in a new color.
On the other hand, there are also those who have trouble relaxing during manicures because of the cost and time it takes. So, whenever you do decide to get your nails professionally done, you should know how to take care of them properly in between appointments.
We talked to two New York-based leading nail ladies—Gracie J, Nail Stylist for season one of TNT’s “CLAWS,” and dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern—to find out how to maintain a mani between appointments, and also how to keep your nail beds healthy, 24/7.
Fix Chipped Polish
The most common (and frustrating) blunder that happens right after a manicure is chipping a nail. Sometimes, if the chip is bad enough, people will take the color off right away, or just live with the imperfectly chipped nail. But Gracie J. points out a better solution: “Find a matching color to temporarily mask the chip,” she says. The same hack applies to an expensive gel manicure, but J. warns, “It’s best to get that fixed, because you don’t want the gel to keep chipping or in some cases, even lift.”
Taking care of your cuticles between appointments is something both nail experts strongly recommend. “The cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal and the key to overall nail health,” says Stern. “Do not cut! Instead, gently push back after a warm shower or bath with a wash cloth or cuticle pusher.” J. adds that using a cuticle oil daily to safely push back skin can minimize time spent in the manicure chair because you’ve already sped up prep time.
Keep Nails Strong
Whether it’s acrylic or natural, a nail break hurts, both physically and spiritually. If your nails are fake, J. says to avoid ripping them all off since all products aren’t soakable. This means you could end up spending more time and money with a pro because it was done improperly.
To avoid the stress of a fracture in the first place, Stern says a healthy diet is the key to maintain nail strength. “Nails are primarily composed of protein and therefore, for general nail health, it is important to consume a protein-rich diet,” she says. “There is some evidence in the medical literature that Biotin (a vitamin B co-enzyme available at health food stores) is beneficial for nail health.”
So, if you’ve thought about taking Biotin before, you just got confirmation that it works. To keep things simple, eat foods rich in protein like chicken, quinoa, and almonds.
Avoid Harmful Ingredients
Stern is no manicure newbie and a fan of polished fingers herself. But she’s careful about what she puts on them and you should be, too. When it comes to polish, avoid formulas that contain Formaldehyde, Phthalates, Toluene, Triphenyl Phosphate, Xylene, and parabens, which are found in most beauty and personal care products. These chemicals can cause nausea and seizures, but also contain carcinogens, toxins, and hormone disrupters.
J. concludes with the reminder that, “Your nails are jewels, not tools. Treat them with the utmost consideration.” This means putting on gloves when you wash dishes and not using your nails to scrape or pry things apart—they’re too delicate for those tasks!
No matter what you prefer, polish or bare, nails are a part of your body that need attention. They can get brittle and dehydrated, so it’s up to you to keep them looking just as good as the rest of you. With these pointers, you’ll be on your way to maintaining healthy, strong, and beautiful digits in no time.