Not nailing it!

Manicures may seem pretty straightforward, but there's probably a few things you're doing that could seriously harm your nail health.

If you thought we were done calling you out on your bad beauty habits, you were wrong. You now understand why air drying your hair is bad for it, and why your pore strips are doing more harm than good; but we couldn't just leave it at your hair and skin. No, we have to talk about your nail habits too.

You're probably familiar with the basics—don't chew your nails, don't pick your hangnails—you get the gist. However, we guarantee you're guilty of at least a few of these cardinal nail care sins. Read on to see where you're going wrong!

1. Not cleaning your tools

Even if the nail equipment is yours, please sanitise it properly after every use. Your nail clippers (especially the set you use on your toenails) are gross after every use, and the same goes for your cuticle pushers and nippers.

The best way to clean your tools is to wash them with soap and water, dry them thoroughly, then disinfect with some rubbing alcohol. For other tools such as emery boards, they can never really be sanitised, so replace them often and make sure you don’t share them.

2. Buffing your nails too often

We all want shiny, healthy-looking natural nails, and buffing is often the easiest way to achieve just that.

Unfortunately, everything comes with a cost. When you buff your nails, you’re filing away entire layers of nail. To avoid thinning and weakening your nails to oblivion, make sure you're not buffing too often. No more than once a month is a good schedule to keep to.

3. Letting your nails ‘breathe’

There's this belief that suggests that going au naturale with your nails can somehow cure all your nail-ments (ha, get it?) including staining, white lines, and yellowing, but this is, unfortunately, a myth.

The reason you don’t need to let your nails breathe between manicures is that your nails don’t actually ‘breathe’—all the nutrition they need is supplied through the blood vessels in the nail bed.

What you’ll actually want to do to keep your nails strong and healthy is maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and certain supplements (like biotin). One thing to consider, though, is that removing gel or acrylics causes damage to your nail, weakening it and thinning it (just like buffing them too often). If you’re particularly fond of gel or acrylic manicures, you may want to grow your nails out between sets so that you’re not damaging them beyond repair.

4. Picking off your polish

We get it–your polish starts flaking and it only feels natural to start picking and peeling. Inherently, though, you know part of the reason it’s so satisfying is that it’s bad for you. Well, we can confirm that picking at your manicure can cause some serious nail damage, so listen up and quit it.

5. Filing nails the wrong way

You see it everywhere in films, tv, and pop culture–manicurists filing nails like they’re brandishing a saw; back and forth. Now, Hollywood actors are no nail experts, so heed our advice and only file in one direction, lest you leave your talons susceptible to peeling and breakage. Yikes!

Close-up of a woman in a nail salon receiving a manicure by a beautician with. Beautician file nails to a customer.

6. Not washing your hands before painting your nails

This is something everyone tends to overlook: your nail plate, like your hair follicles, produces oils that help to nourish the nails.

Ideally, you’ll want to clean off any extra oils with some nail polish remover before you start layering on the polish, then follow up with a thorough scrub of your mitts to remove any remaining oils. It ensures your polish adheres correctly and your manicure is as perfect as can be.

7. Not moisturising your cuticles

Your nails need the same amount of TLC that your face gets–skin is skin! No matter what kind of polish you go for (or if you skip the polish altogether), hydration is the key to healthy, strong nails. That said, this particularly applies to those of you out there who are fans of gel or acrylic manicures–it’s no secret that removing a manicure can be trying, even for the most experienced technicians. It leaves your nails in quite a state.

Invest in a cuticle oil to keep your nails nice and supple. If you can’t find any you like, natural oils like jojoba oil, argan oil or sweet almond oil works perfectly too.

8. You’re still using the wrong nail polishes

For a quick summary, you’ll want to look for three-free (or five, or ten-free) polishes free of toxic components like formaldehyde and toluene, both of which pose serious health risks and do more damage to your nails than any manicure is worth.

9. Skipping the base coat

Ever wonder why your manicure comes out so streaky, and your nails end up chipping pretty much as soon as you’re done? You’re skipping your base coat, that’s why. A proper, nourishing base coat fills in ridges for a seamless polish application while strengthening your nails and keeping them healthy. Don’t skimp!

10. Not sealing off the edges of your nails

On the topic of easily-chipped manicures, if yours is acting up, you might want to look into dragging your topcoat over the edge to the very tip of your nail. Most chips start at the tip of the nail, so give the ends of your nails two extra swipes with a top coat to seal it over.

It’s a simple step to add to your nail routine that will help to extend the life of your manicure. More importantly, it’ll keep you from picking!

Credit: Redzhanna Jazmin

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