Nails that don’t snap when you pick up your handbag? Negative. You might be carving yourself a Beyonce booty every time you hit the gym, but when’s the last time you pumped a little metaphorical iron for your tips? It s easier than you think to score pretty, resilient nails – and we ve got the expert advice right here.
If you want nails that are as tough as, um, nails, add lean meat, fish or legumes to your shopping list. Just like your tresses, your nails are mostly made up of a protein called keratin, which means getting your fill of protein-rich foods is vital for strong and healthy fingertips.
Munching on seeds, eggs, beef and leafy greens will also help toughen up your nails – especially if life’s got you more wired than an episode of Homeland. According to WF naturopath Belinda Kirkpatrick, chronic stress depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals important to overall nail health, especially B vitamins such as biotin – but these foods can help replenish your store of nail-loving compounds.
Still haven’t figured out whether your emery board is friend or foe? This just in: it’s both. While filing your nails regularly can help nix split ends (which prevents snagging and further breakage), overdoing it or filing in a back-and-forth motion can cause damage, warns manicurist Emma Cox. Be careful of buffing the surface ofyour nails, too, as this can thin them out, she adds.
To keep your tips in shape, give them a file every couple of weeks and only ever move the board in one direction. If you’re looking to sculpt some strength, file your nails into an almond or ‘squoval’ shape (that’s a cross between a square and an oval), says Sylvie Hutchings, founder of Scout Cosmetics. “In my opinion, this form is the strongest, because it mimicsthe shape of your entire nail bed,” she explains.
Next time you’re slapping on some face oil, take a minute to massage a few drops into your cuticles, too. “Your cuticle acts as a barrier against bacteria and fungus,” says Hutchings, and if this shield is damaged (or cut off), you could be at risk ofinfection and inflammation. Since your nail matrix (the part responsible for how your nail grows) is hidden beneath your cuticle, any damage that occurs to this protective layer can affect the growth of future nail plates (the hard stuff you actually see). “To help alleviate breakage, keep your nails and cuticles well-moisturised,” tips Hutchings.
“Keep your nails protected with a prescriptive base coat,” suggests Cox. If you’ve got flimsy talons, look for a nail strengthener infused with protein or calcium to toughen them up and prevent peeling. Going polish-free? Whack on a base anyway to protect your nails from potential stains and general wear and tear.
The nail lab Get your digits on point with these mani essentials
2 DO THE PREP
Take off any previous colour with a cotton ball soaked in acetone-free nail polish remover, then give your nails a trim and file into your shape of choice. “Lightly buff the surface of your nails to smooth out any ridges, taking care not to overdo it,” tips Hutchings.
“I like to give my hands an exfoliation treatment with a little lemon juice and sugar at this point, too, as the lemon helps with nail discoloration.”
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