Time was when
perfectly groomed nails meant that you were a member of
the idle rich who only used your hands "to sew a
fine seam and eat strawberries and cream. "Today
your nails tell tales about your personality - whether
you are fun loving or no-nonsense, a professional or a
pianist, a sophisticated or a student.
Nails are Important
Well cared for nails are important, partly because they
are part of your body and you should care for ALL of it.
More importantly, how often have you looked at a dashy
bloke, thought "Mmmmmm..." and then noticed
his grubby, scruffy nails?
The stuff that
nails are made of:
Good looking, wear resistant nails depend on strength,
flexibility. Like hair nails are made up of keratin a
fibrous, porous protein whose cells stretch when
exposed to water.
The shapes of the
nails vary but usually belong to one of these groups.
Square, round, oval, pointed shape your nails according
to the shape that's closest to your natural shape.
The Key to Healthy Nails
The principal key to looking after your nails is
moisturising, moisturising and still more moisturising.
Moisturise them daily at the very least and care for
your cuticles too. Regular manicuring is important too
as it will not only keep them in shape, but also prevent
any small splits or rough bits from continuing to grow
until you have to cut the whole nail back.
The cuticle is the nail's protection between the exposed
part of the nail (which is basically dead) and the new
growing part - the matrix. This is where new cells are
generated and your nails actually grow from there. You
must not remove the cuticle! If you do, it destroys the
nail matrix and then they can't grow! On the other hand,
you do want to keep cuticles from becoming overgrown,
which can suffocate nail growth. The answer is to
liberally apply a cuticle removal lotion, which will
simply make the cuticles more pliable. Then, take an
orangewood stick and, anywhere the cuticle skin touches
the nail plate, push it back using tiny circular
movements. Hold the stick at an angle so that you do
this gradually and gently, without going inside the
cuticle. And, of course, moisturise daily to prevent
Feed Your Nails
You can't actually feed your nails directly, but a good
diet is essential for overall nail health. Most experts
agree that biotin-rich foods such as eggs, soy, whole
grains and liver will help your nails to remain healthy,
along with foods rich in sulphur minerals like apples,
cucumbers, grapes, garlic, asparagus and onions. Also,
be sure to include essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your
diet. Like vitamins and minerals, foods rich in EFAs,
such as salmon, nuts, seeds and tuna, help keep nails
shiny and pliable.
are NOT Tools
Using your fingernails as tools, even for
pushing back your cuticles, or for such things
as scratching labels off is a very bad idea!
Use the proper tools for picking and scraping
- not your nails!
To start with here's a list of nail
problems you could run into.
The usual culprit is nail polish. Beside the vicinity of
the nails, the reddish itchy spots may appear on
delicate skin areas such as the eyelids or sides of the
neck or face, touched by the nails.
The main villain is lack of moisture. Each time you put
your hands in water the keratin swells and shrinks when
dry. This weakens the bonds that hold up the nail
matrix. Too long nails and faulty filling can also have
a similar effect.
Fungal Infection: Trapped
Ingrown toe nails:
A nail cut too short, curved at the corners, too tight
shoes resulting in the nail cutting into the flesh
causing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Cigarette strains, cheap or too dark nail polish,
pretty feet make the rest of you look and feel great.
Soak your feet in warm sudsy water.
Dry well, specially between the toes. Remove old polish.
Trim your nail with a piece of scissors so that they are
leveled with the top of your toes, following the toe.
Try not to cut into the skin. File each nail until
smooth. Put cotton wool between each toe to reduce
chances of getting polish on your skin. Apply a base
coat. Apply one or two colour coats. Apply a top coat.
Pamper with petroleum jelly or lanolin before you go to
There are several different systems
for artificially strengthening and/or lengthening nails
these days. In the main they fall into three categories.
The reasons for having it done are manifold and
personal. However, they all amount to decorating or
strengthening nails that, for one reason or another, are
short, weak, or damaged.
Sculpturing nails can be done using any of the methods
listed below. Acrylic, gel or fibre-glass is applied to
your nails and the material is lengthened and sculpted
over metal or foil to produced the desired length and
shape. Alternatively, a plastic nail tip is first fixed
in place with glue and then a layer of gel, fibre-glass,
silk or acrylic is laid over the entire nail. As the
natural nail grows out, your manicurist will fill in the
base and file down the artificial tip. Eventually, you
end up with just the overlay on your natural nail.
Acrylic nails are the strongest and
longest-lasting of all nail overlays. As with all
the methods, if it's not done well, these nails can
look thick and very artificial. Find a manicurist
who is an expert at applying acrylic nails and you
should get a very thin, natural-looking nail. They
usually need to be filled in every two to three
weeks as your nails grow, but depending on how hard
you are on your nails, you may need to see the
manicurist sooner to avoid nail loosening, which can
lead to mildew if water gets trapped underneath. If
a professional removes them properly, the acrylic
nails should cause little weakening to the nail
plate (see the note below). One factor that might
make you choose acrylic is that it is the most
commonly-used artificial nail and, if you travel a
lot, it will be easier for you to find a manicurist
to repair or fill in when necessary.
Wraps are pieces of silk,
linen or fibre-glass that have been cut to the
required shape and glued to the nail plate. This
adds strength (and sometimes length) to the nail.
Although done on natural nails, wraps are most
commonly used to strengthen tips. Silk is the most
natural-looking wrap and provides a lot of
flexibility, but it is often too delicate for those
with an active lifestyle. Linen is stronger, but it
is not transparent and appears quite thick. Fibre-glass
is the best of both worlds, since it provides the
natural look of silk and the strength of linen.
Gel nails were originally
made of dental porcelain gel-powder. Nowadays,
manicurists use a Mylar form to sculpt your nail,
and then cure, or set it under an ultraviolet light.
Because of this process, gel nails may need to be
filled in less often than acrylic nails, though
fill-ins are still necessary and a professional must
remove the tips.
It is very important that you keep your cuticles in good
condition and moisturised, and your nails filled-in as
necessary, while your artificial nails are on, and that
you moisturise and manicure your nails properly and
frequently after removal.