I am a recovering addict. That’s right, I used to be addicted to acrylic nails. I loved getting “fake nails” put on and I was a regular in my local salon every two weeks. Once I took a break and noticed how weak and thin my real nails had become, I decided it was time to kick my habit and take better care of my finger nails. Recently, I’ve been trying to get my nails back to their original, unmarred condition. I decided it would be beneficial to find out just what it takes to grow strong and healthy nails–the natural way.
I’ve always heard you can tell a woman’s age by looking at her hands. But what about her nails? The fingernails’ purpose is to protect our finger tips, but they are also an external sign of our health.
What do healthy nails look like?
When nails are healthy, they have a uniform color, smooth texture and are free of splits, ridges or discolored spots.
What do unhealthy nails look like?
When nails are unhealthy, they can have ridges, dents, splits, cracks, areas of unusual color and shape, areas of thinning and pain, swelling and/or redness.
Our nails are formed at the nail bed where the “U” shaped cuticle begins. Nails are composed of layers of laminated keratin. Keratin is a type of protein and is the key component in the structure of hair and nails.
It is important to keep your nail bed in tact in order to have strong and healthy nails. So, here are some tips on things you can do to ensure healthy nail growth and keep yourself looking young from your fingers to your toes!
Tips on how to grow your nails:
-Eat foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants and silicon. (Healthy hint: think Vitamins C, A and B)
-File your nails regularly, keeping them at a comfortable length. This helps prevent breakage, chipping and splitting. Filing into a rounded shape as opposed to straight will help resist splitting and chipping. (Healthy hint: The Mayo Clinic says it is easiest to file nails right after a bath or shower.)
-Rub oil on your nails and cuticles. Olive, grape seed, almond or jojoba would all work. This keeps your fingers and nails moisturized and will improve the overall texture of your nails.
-Cover up! Wear rubber gloves while doing chores such as dishes or other house hold cleaning. This will protect your nails from being damaged by chemicals or detergents found in cleaners.
-Stop using your nails as tools! Opening, cutting or ripping things can easily lead to unexpected nail damage.
-Try not to bite your nails. Not only is this a bad habit, but it can damage the nail bed and/or lead to snagging. Plus, if you bite your nails and leave cuts behind, you are more likely to get infected with bacteria.
-Resist pulling your hang nails! You could rip off live tissue along with the hang nail. If you have one, do yourself a favor and use nail clippers!
-Keep nails clean and dry. This prevents bacteria, fungi and other organisms from growing under your finger nails. (Healthy hint: for toe nails: air out your work boots or athletic sneakers for the same reason.)
-Wear nail polish. Polish can protect your finger nails from damage as well as help strengthen them. Acetone-free polishes are best because they are less drying, but don’t wear nail polish all the time because it’s always important to let your nails breathe. You can easily find nail strengthening polishes as well as acetone-free at your local drug store. (Healthy hint: if nails tend to be soft, you can use a nail hardener.)
Using the tips mentioned above, you should be on your way to growing longer, stronger, more beautiful natural nails!