My nails are normally rather thin, and really brittle if I'm under stress. When I was in the university, any length I achieved during the semester would disappear at the end of it. Stress is not good. Also, I used to bite on them when I was a teenager, but then again, who doesn't/didn't? But after proper care, my nails have become pretty firm and fast growing. It's amazing!. I still don't dare to open a soda can with them though heh.
Anyways, I wanted to share the tips and techniques I've learnt through the years, to keep good and strong nails.
- Find your shape. There are different types of nail shapes. Some say that the square or square-oval (or squoval) are the strongest and most stable, but it all depends on the person. Find your own style. My nails naturally grow oval so I keep them that way. A nice rule of thumb is to follow the shape of your cuticles or nail beds. That way the nail looks symmetric. If your nail beds are not symmetric or all random, just choose what you like the most. Round nails are the best for people who work a lot with their hands and need to keep short nails.
|Nail shapes (Source: www.fashionmap.com)|
- Use the right tools for the job. The next thing is to have the right tools for nail care. Cardboard files are cheap and sold almost everywhere, but they're not the best for the job. They get dull fast and sometimes even bend or break. Invest in stronger files. Glass files are an excellent choice. Same goes with nail cutters. I know it's tempting to buy cheap tools, but believe me, you get what you pay. Following is a small list of essential tools you should have for proper nail care:
- Nail file, with different grades for heavy filing, trimming and fixing details.
- Nail buffer, a coarse one to buff down imperfections on the surface of the nail, and a softer one to make it shine.
- Cuticle remover. This is only if you really need it. Some people have little to no cuticles showing, others have huge tough ones. Choose a product that satisfies your needs, and follows the instructions carefully. Some cuticle removers are a bit abrasive, so leaving it on for a long time is not a good idea. Most of the time, you can actually push your cuticles back after a shower, when they're nice and soft. Do not cut your cuticles unless it's really necessary. They protect your nail beds, so if you damage them, you can get fungus or infections in your nails and fingers. So, if you do have to cut them, do it far from the nail bed. Tuck the rest in with a cuticle remover.
- Nail/cuticle cream. I'm a recent convert of this one. A cuticle cream keeps the cuticles and nail beds moisturized and soft. I don't know if this is true or not, but I'm quite sure it helps with nail growth. My nails definitely grow faster. This also helps to keep your cuticles in line, and not all over your nail.
- Other products like nail strengtheners are a good idea if you think your nails are too brittle. Also, an orange stick is always a good tool to have around, to push those cuticles back or to clean under your nail.
So you have your tools, and you've chosen what shape you want. Time to do some work!
- Prepare your cuticles. You can skip this phase if your cuticles are very small. Otherwise, use the cuticle remover and push your cuticles back with your fingers or an orange stick. Wash your hands afterwards to remove the product.
- If your nails are too long, file them down with the most coarse grade of file. If it's possible, do not cut them down. Cutting them down makes them chip easier. Also, only file in the same direction all the time instead of back and forth, that also reduces the amount of chips you can get on your final nail. Once you've reached the desired length, use the finer grades to finish your filing. The end result should feel smooth. You can run the nail against your skin or a soft cloth; if you feel like it gets stuck, you still need to do more filing.
- Buffer your nail surface with the coarse buffer, to remove imperfections and ridges. If your ridges are too pronounced, it might be caused by fungus, so I suggest you visit a specialist. Don't buffer your nails every day, or your will end up leaving them too thin. Once a week is more than enough. After you're done buffering, use the soft one to shine them. This will leave the nail looking like you're using a clear top coat, shiny and soft!
- Once you're done, you can apply your cuticle and nail cream.
After doing this after a while, your nails will start to be really strong, and look like you go to the manicure every week. I suggest you to take your time with this, it will pay off!
Next time, I'll talk about nail polishes and such. Till then!