How to fix your most common nail troubles
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Mani 911: How to fix your most common nail drama

Because our nails are worth saving

By: Christine Doan (@glosshouse)
Jul 29 2021

Hi, I’m Christine Doan (@glosshouse), a San Diego-based hobbyist turned professional nail artist. I use nail art and self-care to cultivate conversation around mental health awareness. Better known for my fluid designs and custom mixed colors — each design is uniquely one of a kind.

Read on to learn my favorite tips and tricks for everyday nail struggles such as peeling cuticles, dry or brittle nails and so much more!

ManiMe: What are the most common nail issues that you see with your clients? 

Christine: The most common nail issues that I see with my clients are 1) people picking at the sidewalls of the nails due to nerves or anxiety and 2) people incorrectly removing their gels. 

Due to an increase in nerves, anxiety, and stress (thanks pandemic), I’ve seen more clients than ever come in with damaged cuticles and sidewall skin. Unfortunately, there is no secret to fixing this problem other than stopping. Picking or biting your nails can affect the long-term health of your nails. It can disrupt nail growth and cause the skin surrounding your nails to become tougher, harder, and more difficult to maintain. I do find that regular nail maintenance sometimes helps people stop picking or biting nails since there is less temptation to ruin a freshly manicured nail vs. a bare, natural nail. 

Incorrect gel removal also seems to have increased because of the pandemic-related salon closures and limited availability. Proper technique for gel nail removal is so important because when removal is done incorrectly, it can damage the nail. I personally curate and sell mailing kits for easy at-home gel removal and created this IGTV video to show how to do gel removal correctly. 

Pro tip: you can find most of these tools and materials at the dollar store. 

ManiMe: How do you fix dry, brittle nails? 

Christine: There is a misconception between hydrating and moisturizing nails. Hydrating nails means you are allowing water to seep into the nails since nails are porous while moisturizing them means you are adding nourishing products such as oils or lotions to lock in the benefits. A lack of oil will cause your nail plate to become brittle, dry, and less durable overall. 

People who are in the food services industry such as waitresses or bartenders often experience dry or brittle nails since they are consistently exposing their hands and nails to chemical cleansers and hot water temperatures. The only way to combat this is to keep your nails moisturized with nourishing hand lotions or cuticle oils. These ingredients will seep into the nails and keep them strong. Additionally, the oils from moisturizing products will help keep your nails more flexible and malleable. Instead of completely breaking off, a hydrated and moisturized nail is able to bend back into shape. It’s sort of like your hair. If your hair follicles are dry, they are more likely to experience breakage or split ends. However, if you condition your hair, it is more flexible and will experience less breakage.


ManiMe: What are your favorite tips for people who are more prone to hangnails or have sensitive, delicate cuticles? 

Christine: What people don’t realize is everyone’s cuticles are different. Some people have cuticles that are attached to larger portions of their nails. I call these sticky cuticles. Sticky cuticles often mean the cuticle is more attached to their nail plate and requires a tiny bit more maintenance. 

After your shower, wash your face, or whenever the skin around your nails is moist, gently push back the excess cuticle skin back. You can use an orange stick or your thumbnail. Trim or cut any dead or dry cuticle skin. 


ManiMe: How do you tackle nail ridges? 

Christine: According to most traditional nail tech training textbooks, horizontal nail ridges are usually caused by trauma or stress to the nail while vertical nail ridges are typically genetic. The best way to smooth away both horizontal and vertical nail ridges is with a higher grit file. You can use a file with 180, 200, or 240 grit buffers out the ridges. 

Be careful not to file too hard or too much away. You’ll also want to consider your nail thickness. If your nails are naturally thinner, it might be best to leave the ridges as is. If you have thicker nails, you can gently buff away the files without inflicting damage. 

Also, if you have spoon-shaped nails or when your natural nail edge slightly flips up or seems like the nail is scooped out, you should avoid buffing or smoothing nail ridges to avoid further damage. 

ManiMe: What are your favorite products for keeping your nails long and strong? 

Christine: I love taking Primal Kitchen or Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. They have made a significant difference in the health of my nails and keep them looking long and strong. 

I also really love all of Butter London’s products. Not only are they vegan and cruelty-free, but they also make a wide variety of products. Some of my personal staples include:

Thanks again for reading! Nail care is a huge part of my self-care routine and I love helping my clients keep their nails healthy. You can follow me at @glosshouse on Instagram to keep up with my latest tips and tricks!

Shop @glosshouse's Summer Picnic nail art designs below!