When someone tells me they’re a dentist, I immediately cover my teeth.
When I cook for a chef I become a nervous wreck. When friends talk to me about nailart they hide their nails as though ashamed by how weak or chipped they are. I may be a perfectionist about my own nails, but that certainly doesn’t mean I expect the same from everyone else.
Having said that, if you’ve got weak nails and you’d like to know how I keep my nails strong then I’ve got 7 tips for you. However, if you happen to be hypersensitive, stop reading now. What I’m about to write might offend those who are unwilling to change old habits.
People often assume that having my nails constantly painted would weaken or ruin them. The truth is I haven’t had my nails naked for longer than 20 minutes in over a year and just yesterday someone remarked that they were as strong as metal. So, how is it done? How can you show your nails the love they deserve?
1. Steer clear of nail biting experiences
I’ll never forget this one moment when I was little – I was about 5 years old and I was dressed up in my leotard and ballet skirt ready to do a ballet recital. The nerves must have been getting to me because I was biting my nails down to the quick. At that point my mother said ‘don’t bite your nails or you’ll have ugly hands when you’re older.’ Vanity must have gotten the better of me even then because I stopped biting that instant and have never done it since. If you’re a nail biter – stop.
2. Short and sweet
If your nails are very weak, cut or clip them regularly – not so that they are super short, but don’t let them get too long until they’ve built up their strength. This will take time, so be patient. I would avoid filing your nails if they are very weak as this will only make them more prone to split. For advice on what shapes to opt for read Nail Shapes 101.
3. Milk them for all they’re worth
The calcium in milk does wonders for your nails. You’ll need to have more than merely a dash in your coffee or tea, but a bowl of cereal or a yoghurt in the morning or a hot chocolate or latte every other day will help. If you can’t have dairy then make sure you’re getting your calcium elsewhere – it’s not just your nails that need it. Your teeth, bones and metabolism will all reap the benefits.
4. Stay back from shellac
They may look great, but beware of the harm that gel manicures can have to your nail tissue. To remove shellac, Jenna Hipp, a Los Angeles-based celebrity nail stylist writes, ‘Many manicurists have their clients soak nails and hands in acetone, which absorbs into the body and into the bloodstream. Others file down with a drill, often leaving the natural nail paper thin and in desperate need of a nine-month-to-a-year healing process.’ I would strongly advise that you steer clear of shellac (sorry…don’t hate me!). You may be wondering how you can achieve that professional, long lasting manicure without it, well, look no further – read How to Make a Manicure Last a Week and 4 Tips to Make Your Manicure Look Professional.
5. Lay it on thick
When painting your nails, by the time you’ve put on your base coat, two coats of colour, whatever design you’re going for and the top coat, it’s no wonder that your nails are stronger. It’s like they’re covered tip to cuticle in body armour. For an extra tough finish, I use Seche Vite top coat which blobs on in a thick gloop so it doesn’t smudge my design and the best thing about it is that it dries super fast.
6. Softly, softly, catchy monkey
If you’re feeling weak and vulnerable, there’s nothing like a bit of pampering to make you feel better again. Your nails are the same. Use a hand moisturiser every day to help replenish your nails. It will also keep your hands looking young and beautiful, so what’s stopping you?
7. Strength from within
The points above will help your nails regain their strength, but if you want to see even quicker results I recommend taking a nail supplement. Supermarkets and pharmacies do their own brand versions but I use Perfectil as my daily vitamin which is for skin, hair and nails and I am certain that it’s for this reason that my nails never split or break.
If you’ve made it this far then you’re clearly strong enough to take on my advice and I’m sure your nails will follow suit in no time.