Many people use nail polish or nail art to make their nails stand out. However, the importance of our fingernails is often underestimated. Their shape and color can be an early indication of sicknesses and other undetected ailments.
Fingernails are made up of layers of the naturally-produced protein, keratin. It’s the same protein that makes your hair shiny and healthy. A balanced diet is the best way to increase the body’s production of keratin. Milk, eggs and red meat are just a few of the foods that are high in the keratin protein.
Eating protein-rich foods might not be enough to keep your nails healthy. In that case, vitamins such as Vitamin E and fish oil can be used to supplement your diet. The health of your nails can be an example of the overall health of your body.
How Do I Know if My Nails Are Healthy?
It is easy to spot the difference between healthy and unhealthy nails if you know what you’re looking for and routinely check your nails. People often only look at their nails when they break or cause discomfort.
Indicators of Unhealthy Nails Include:
Nails that peel or split can be caused by dry cuticles or a vitamin deficiency
White spots are often a sign of a previous injury to the nail bed, where the nails begin to grow. There is a popular myth that the white spots indicate a calcium deficiency, but that’s incorrect.
Horizontal ridges can be caused by stress or injury
Removing cuticles can result in red, inflamed skin on the edges of the nails
Concave nails, known as “spoon nails” are sometimes a sign of anemia
Healthy fingernails are smooth to the touch, without spots or concavity. The normal, healthy color of nails comes from the pink tissue beneath the nail. Healthy nails are consistent in color and texture.
Indicators of Healthy Nails Include:
Pink or mauve in color. You can do the “capillary nail test” by applying pressure to your nail and then seeing if the pink color reappears quickly when the pressure is released.
Some nail ridges, such as vertical ridges, are common and are a sign of healthy nails. Horizontal ridges are a potential problem.
Nails that don’t break easily or often are healthy. Unhealthy nails are brittle and break easily.
Healthy nails have an intact cuticle. The cuticle helps keep the nail bed from getting infected. Cutting or removing the cuticle leaves your nails vulnerable to bacteria.
The lunula is the half-moon shaped area at the base of your nails. If it’s prominent, it’s a good sign that your nails are healthy.
If your nails are already healthy, continue doing whatever you’re doing to keep them like that. If your nails could use some TLC, keep reading for nail care tips and tricks to improve your nail health.
How Can I Get Healthy Nails Naturally?
Before you make the trip to the beauty aisle at your local drugstore, there are simple steps you can take to get healthy nails. A few minor lifestyle changes are cheaper and more effective than any over-the-counter products that promise healthier nails.
5 Ways to Get Healthy Nails Naturally Include:
Improve Your Hand Hygiene
The first step in healthier nails means improving your hygiene, especially when it comes to your hands. Washing your hands can help fight infections caused by bacteria from getting into the nail bed. The nail bed is the skin around the nail matrix where the nail growth originates. It can become red and inflamed with too much poking and prodding.
Your nails can be gently brushed with a toothbrush and soap to exfoliate dead skin cells and dirt. Our nails are delicate, especially around the skin. Using rough tools to clean your nails can cause damage to the nail bed and negatively affect the health of your nails.
When it comes time to remove the previous nail color, it is best to use an acetone-free nail polish remover. Polish removers with acetone can cause the skin surrounding the nails to dry out and weaken.
Longer nails can be a festering place for dirt and bacteria. Regularly trimming your nails help you keep nail infections at bay and prevents you from painful, nail damage if your nail breaks or catches on something.
Nails grow at different rates for each person. The best way to get into the habit of trimming your nails is to trim them regularly once a week. This ensures that you won’t forget to take care of your nail health. Instead of chewing or ripping off a damaged nail, you should always clip it with nail trimmers. This helps prevent the ragged edges that cause the nail to tear.
If your nails are weak, you can clip them after a shower when they are softest. Or you can soak them in water before clipping. This helps prevent the nails from splitting. If you find that your nails don’t need a weekly trim, you can adjust the trimming to once every two weeks instead of clipping them as they break.
As we know, the nails are made up of the protein keratin that our body naturally produces. Sometimes our bodies can use a little nudge to make it produce more keratin or make up for the protein it lacks. We can do that by eating foods that are rich in protein or foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to the keratin, healthy foods containing vitamin B, zinc, iron and calcium can all improve the health of your nails.
Nuts, beans and fish are all foods that are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your water intake is recommended for your overall health. But it can also help prevent damaged nails by keeping the skin that protects your nails moisturized.
File and Buff Often
Trimming isn’t the only thing you can do to promote healthy nails. Filing and buffing are two other important steps in caring for your nails. Metal tools should be avoided as much as possible for under the nail use, as they can cause the nail bed to separate from the skin.
Buffing your nails can give them a glossy shine that can help make your natural nails look more attractive. It also helps remove dead skin cells from the outer skin surrounding your nails. Nails should be buffed before applying nail polish but it can also be used instead of polish to make nails look appealing.
Filing the nails helps keep the edges even and prevent getting your nail caught in clothing or another place that can result in the nail being ripped or damaged. When filing your nails, be sure to file from the edge of the nail instead of sawing back and forth. The sawing motion can weaken the nails.
Keep Hands Moisturized
Your nails and cuticles could use some of the skin lotion that you use on your hands and arms. While regular washing your hands is important, it also causes the skin to dry out faster. Using moisturizing lotion can help replenish the moisture that is lost by hand washing or painting your nails.
Many manicures include the trimming of the cuticle. However, the cuticle is an important part in preventing your nail bed from being infected. Using a cuticle pusher to push the cuticle back isn’t great, but it’s better than trimming or cutting the cuticle.
How Do I Keep My Cuticles Healthy?
The cuticle is a tough piece of skin surrounding your nail bed to protect it from infection. Cutting them or pushing them back too far can damage your cuticles. One way to protect your cuticles is by not cutting or trimming them during manicures. If you must push back your cuticle, the best time to do it is in the shower or as soon as you get out of the shower. At that point, your cuticles are softened up a bit.
Moisturizing your cuticles with a creamy skin lotion is another way to keep them healthy. Keeping the cuticle moist helps prevent painful cracked and dried out cuticles. You can use olive or coconut oil as a natural moisturizer instead of skin lotion.
How Can I Strengthen My Weak Nails?
Following the nail care regimen above is the best way to strengthen weak nails. If you still don’t see any improvement in your nails, you can try a vitamin B supplement known as Biotin. It can help strengthen brittle nails by increasing your vitamin B intake.
Applying petroleum jelly to your nails at night is another option to help strengthen your nails. The jelly is rich in mineral oils that can seal moisture in overnight.
Another natural remedy is soaking your nails in olive oil or coconut oil. After you’ve soaked your nails in the oil for a while, be sure to rub the excess oil directly into your cuticles and nail bed for optimal moisture.
Regular nail care is essential for maintaining healthy nails and cuticles. Our nails are made from the protein keratin. The body’s keratin production can be increased by adding protein-rich foods into our diets and trimming nails often and evenly to prevent snags and further nail damage. We can look to our nails for insight into our overall health.