green manicure art close up photo
Tips & Tricks

The Ultimate Nail Care Guide

There is something soulful and curative about taking care of your nails. Our hands are in view all day and every day, as we take care of other tasks. The state of our nails can impact on your confidence and the gentle care of them can help us feel more assured. Even the act of buffing your nails while daydreaming is wonderfully meditative.

While we would all love to have a manicure every day, it is not practical or cost-effective. Therefore, we need to learn how to care for our nails ourselves. Then, when we see a nail technician, we can look for the luxury rather than mere maintenance.

Here we guide you through some of the essential information needed to care for your nails.

green manicure art close up photo
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

A closer look at the nail

Your nail is made of a similar protein to your hair. Your nails are made of many layers of keratin. Also, like your hair, the nail rises from a cuticle. While you think that hard shell on your finger is made up of dead cells, it does have a blood supply. So, while it is not so alive that it hurts when you cut your nails, they are still a functioning part of your system and so prone to being impacted by your general health and wellbeing.

Staying healthy

We all aspire to healthy nails because they look good. However, your nails are also an indication of your general health and wellbeing. Your doctor will take some information about the state of your physical self from your nails. For instance, ridges, marks, and discolouration can signal problems with your health beyond your nails.

A good example of how your health can be revealed through your nails is by looking for ridges. Vertical ridges or indentations are relatively normal and are usually a result of dehydration. However, if this comes with some discolouration you might have health problems with your nail base that may need intervention. Such a condition is quite common in young males, which makes it appropriate for them to seek the help of a nail technician too.

More serious are horizontal ridges, which can signal more significant health concerns. People with horizontal ridges on their nails could be suffering with kidney issues, diabetes, or even thyroid disease. The ridges also appear when you contract mumps.

There are other signs that nails give us about our health. For instance, we can gauge our level of anaemia, or our iron levels, from our nails. Also, if there are marks on the nail, then it can be a sign you have Vitamin E deficiency.

What this all means is that the health of your nails is more than just about looking good. Your nails are a sign of your broader wellbeing.

Being Healthy

If your whole-body health can impact on the look of your nails, then the look of your nails can be improved by your general health. As with most things relating to your physical self, what we eat and the exercise we do will have a significant impact on the appearance of your nails. Eating lots of lean protein and oil fish and salmon will serve you well, as will eating legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains and eggs. 

Unless you get the appropriate levels of Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids and Vitamin A, your nails are going to suffer. It is better to eat well in this case than it is to spend many pounds on tonics.

Equally, if you want healthy looking nails, you are going to have to manage any nail-biting habit. Nail biting can cause bacterial and fungal infections, as well as looking pretty dreadful too. While you can use a polish to make them taste disgusting, you might want to look at the triggers that make you stressed enough to nibble.

A final tip on healthy nails is to use olive oil regularly. While you can buy scented oils to rub on your nails every day at a high cost, there is no oil better than standard olive oil for strengthening weak nails.

Maintain regularly!

Maintaining your nails is about using the right equipment at the right time. For instance, if you want to shape your nails, you should be using a buffer to gently carve out the shape. If you are going to cut your nails, you should really soak them in warm water first. Finally, invest in a cuticle pusher, so keep those little blighters in their place and stop any unusually challenging pain from the fingertips.

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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