Last week, we gave you some tips for a DIY nontoxic manicure so you can avoid the toxic fumes and ethical dilemmas at the salon but still have gorgeous, well groomed nails.
In between your at-home manicures, here are some tips on how to look after your nails naturally so you can keep your nails in tiptop shape.
Natural hand and nail care
For really dry hands and nails, give them a scrub with an exfoliant that eliminates dead skin cells and restores moisture. Afterwards, cover your hands generously with a thick hydrating cream like Weleda Skin Food. Pop a pair of cotton socks over them and sleep with these on. You’ll have lovely soft hands in the morning.
It may sound counterintuitive, but handwashing actually strips your hands of moisture. Try to rehydrate your hands and nails with a nourishing hand cream or cuticle balm after every time you wash your hands. And use a gentle, natural handwash liquid like our favourite ones from ecostore.
Trim your nails regularly. Like your hair, your nails will grow better if you give them a regular clip every week or so.
Avoid nail polish with the toxic trio — formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate). There are now a lot of nail polish brands that offer safer but still long lasting and chip resistant colour. Look for “3 free” nail polish variants, or even better, "5 free" and "7 free" options.
Be gentle with your nails. Avoid using metal tools to dig around under your nail as this could cause the nail to separate from the skin.
If you’re suffering from dry and rough cuticles, massage cuticle oil into your nails each night before you go to bed. Try to really get the oil under your nails and into your cuticles. Follow this up with a rich hand cream.
It’s best not to cut your cuticles, as they can tear and get infected. Cuticles are there as a seal of protection, so you shouldn't cut them off. Instead of cutting your cuticles, use a wooden orange cuticle stick or the Weleda Cuticle Softener Pen to gently push them back towards the base of your nails. Do this right after you get out of the shower, while your cuticles and nails are still soft. Afterwards, apply a rich and soothing balm. You can also use a nail pen to keep your cuticles moisturised.
If you have a hangnail or there’s a tear in a cuticle, go ahead and snip it with sharp nail clippers. Don’t pull at it or bite it.
There’s really not much you can do with a torn nail. You can either attempt to patch it with a tea bag and nail glue, as some suggest, or you can just trim it and cut the rest of your nails to match its length. Short, well groomed nails look much better than scraggly ones or different lengths. If you struggle with breakage, you may want to try a shorter style that is more manageable and looks neater.
Nourish your nails from the inside
- Get enough protein and calcium. Eat lots of protein rich foods like fish, nuts, and beans to keep your muscles (and nails) in good shape. Calcium deficiency can cause nails to split and break, so make sure you eat enough calcium rich foods.
- Stay hydrated.
More tips on how to look after your nails naturally
- Choose a non acetone nail polish remover. Heavy duty nail polish removers with acetone get rid of nail polish fast. But they also dry out nails and cuticles, leading to breakage. They’re also not good for your health.
- Zap infections with tea tree oil. To treat infected nails, apply a drop or two of tea tree oil to the affected parts daily.
- Clean your nail care tools. Avoid infections by disinfecting your tools between uses. Regularly replace disposable items like emery boards.
- Wear gloves when cleaning. Harsh cleaning solutions are really bad for your hands and nails. Strong chemical cleaners can cause nails to become weak, crack, and peel. Use gloves every time you handle cleaning solutions. Better yet, switch to mild, natural cleaning products that won’t put your nails (and health) at risk.
- Avoid alcohol. Swap alcohol based hand sanitisers, which dry out your nails and cuticles, for ones with an alcohol free formula.
Do you have other tips for natural nail care? Let us know in the comments!