There’s more to an eye-catching manicure than the cute artwork and playful design — it’s the nails underneath, too! As a matter of fact, the key to achieving a long-lasting mani is keeping your natural nails in good health. Plenty of supplements, treatments, and nail health products exist out in the world. But the best way to maintain strong, manicure-worthy nails is with a simple everyday nail care routine.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association doesn’t mince words when it comes to taking proper care of your nails. According to the professionals, “Our nails reflect our overall health.” So, it’s super important that we know 1) what healthy nails look like and 2) how to keep them healthy.
A normal, healthy fingernail should be smooth all over with a consistent color. Some color differences are normal, like white spots, which can come from an injury, such as slamming your finger in a door — ouch! Those kinds of color changes grow out. There are also nail changes that happen with age, like vertical ridges. Also totally normal.
On the flip side, if you can answer yes to any of these questions below, you should hit up your doctor or dermatologist:
Are you experiencing any nail discoloration? Dark streaks?
Are your nails curling or changing into an unfamiliar shape?
Are your nails excessively thin? Thick?
Are your nails pulling away from the skin around them?
Are you experiencing any bleeding or swelling around your nails?
Have your nails stopped growing?
Saying yes to any of these questions means there could be something funky going on with your nails, and it’s worth getting it checked out by a medical professional.
If your nails already look strong and healthy, there are several low key things you can do every day to help ensure they stay that way:
It should come as no surprise that your nails are a breeding ground for bacteria since you touch countless objects all day. Use antibacterial soap to clean your nails and hands thoroughly. Sing the alphabet song while you’re lathering up to make sure you allot enough to time to kill all those germs!
The longer your nails are exposed to water, the more likely they are to split. Have disposable gloves handy next to the sink for when you’re cleaning produce or washing dishes to protect your nails. Don’t forget to dry your hands thoroughly after you finish.
Just like the rest of the skin on your body, your hands need help retaining moisture. Use hand lotion after washing your hands and before bed. Show some extra love to your hands by massaging the moisturizer in, focusing on your nails and cuticles.
Just like there are best practices for staying on top of your nail health, there are also certain behaviors you should nix. First off, if something abnormal is going on with your nails, reach out to a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible. It might be a sign of something more serious. You also want to avoid doing anything that traumatizes your nails. Biting them, picking at them, and ripping off hangnails could cause damage to your nails and bring about unwanted bacteria.
Strong, healthy nails are surprisingly easy to manage, and they’re absolutely worth the work when your mani (or pedi) comes out looking oh-so cute and IG-worthy!