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Taking Care of Your Nails at Home

TheKarenD

CC Image Courtesy of TheKarenD.

Going to your Windsor salon for regular manicures and pedicures can be a great way to take care of your nails. But what should you do in between appointments? And how can you get the best result from a manicure? If your nails have small ridges, dents, or areas of unusual color, read on. Here, we look at the best ways to take care of your nails at home.

What a Healthy Nail Looks Like

For starters, it’s best to know what your nails should look like. Healthy nails are uniform in color and consistency, free of discolored patches. They are smooth, without pits or ridges. Sometimes, especially as you grow older, the nails might develop vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. While unpleasant, these are harmless.

The growing out is a natural process as cells grow from the base of your nail, under the cuticle. The cuticle serves as a protective covering for this opening into your fingers, and should never be cut away. Nails themselves are laminated layers of keratin, a protein that the body makes. As the cells continue producing under the cuticle, the older cells harden and are pushed out to become the new nail.

When the Nail is Unhealthy

If you suspect your nails or cuticles are unhealthy, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your stylist at our Windsor salon. She will have a good idea of what the problem may be, and can resolve the problem with you there or direct you to a dermatologist if needed. Consult with her if any of these things occur:

  1. Changes in nail color, such as a dark streak under the nail or discoloration of the entire nail
  2. Thinning or thickening of the nail
  3. Swelling, redness, bleeding, or pain around the nails
  4. Changes in nail shape, such as curling at the tips
  5. Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin

Of course, many of these things are simply changes in the nail and skin around it. The most important thing is that you’re aware of how your nails look normally. That way, you can notice any significant or troubling changes in them.

How to Care for Your Nails at Home

There are several steps to follow that will keep your nails in their best form. For starters, you should keep them clean and dry. This will prevent bacteria, fungi, and other unhealthy things from growing under them. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves whenever your hands will be in water for a long time, such as washing dishes or scrubbing the tub. This will extend the life of your manicure and protect your skin from chemicals.

Trim and file your nails regularly. This easy practice will keep them growing in straight and healthy, and help you avoid ingrown nails. If the nails are typically tough, it will be easiest to trim them right after a bath or shower. If they are typically weak or brittle, make sure they’re dry when you trim them. Otherwise, you risk breaking them further. And whenever you rub lotion into your hands, moisturize your nails and cuticles thoroughly as well.

What NOT to Do with Your Nails

Ahhhh, the dreaded list of what not to do. Many of these can become habits quickly, but in order to keep your nails looking their best, you should avoid these things. Your nails will stay healthy longer if they aren’t tools for the task at hand. As much as possible, don’t use them to pry or pick at something. If necessary, find a small knife or other tool that will serve the purpose better.

Biting your nails, hangnails, or cuticles is also a no-no. This can expose raw skin that isn’t prepared. Even a small cut or tear can be the entry point for bacteria and harmful germs. Making a habit of any one of these can lead to long-term damage in the nail bed, which is definitely bad news.

Taking Care of Weak Nails

If you have naturally strong nails, congratulations! For those of you who have weak or brittle nails, however, there is hope. Just a few steps will strengthen your nails and lessen the possibility of damage. Keep your nails short, since those are less likely to split or tear. You should also apply a thin layer of clear nail polish, which can lock moisture into the nails and help protect them.

Use moisturizer regularly throughout the day and once before going to bed. This will keep the nails and hands evenly moisturized. If possible, consider wearing cotton gloves to bed to lock in the moisture.

Lastly, limit the use of nail polish. Too much polish can dry out the nails, causing them to crack further. Nail polish remover can have the same effect, and shouldn’t be used more than once a week. The acetone-free variety is healthier for your nails than the regular version. The stylist at your Windsor salon may have other ideas for boosting the power of your manicure without harming your nails.

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