Want to learn how to obtain and maintain beautiful, healthy natural nails? Read on!
For the longest time, I resisted wearing un-varnished, natural nails. Why? Everyone has their own feel-good rituals: For some, it’s a daily run in the pre-dawn hours of the morning; for others, it might be a favorite TV show or movie you can turn on and get absorbed in for minutes or hours during the course of a hectic week. For me, it’s polishing my nails. The beauty routine is a simple and fairly unnoticeable one, but that’s why it’s so special for me.
Once a week, I force myself to take a little time and just focus on the task at hand: the removing of the polish, the filing, the choosing a new color, the time it takes to paint and dry. For about 90 minutes, I can’t even contemplate editing a manuscript or doing housework without running the risk of smudging. Then, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor (relaxation?) for the rest of the week, when looking down at poppy-red or lilac-hued fingers is about the only thing that will get me through typing the day’s fiftieth email.
Except for the rare occasion, my manicures (and pedicures) are all done chez moi (not at a salon), and I’ve slowly been updating my collection of polishes with good-for-you brands like Zoya: free of chemicals that cause damage to your body and the environment. And with nail polish all the rage over the past decade or so, it’s easier than ever to find just about any shade you could imagine (natural, trendy, or bold) at a variety of price ranges. But as my other beauty routines have benefited from radical simplification (skin and hair alike), I’m reconsidering what bare, natural nails might look and feel like.
While I truly believe that a well-polished hand makes a good impression on others, I might be able to send a different message with an un-polished one–and even reap some healthful benefits, too. Summer seems like a great time to try this out (everything feels more relaxed), but there’s one thing that complicates things: what if your nails, well, need polish to be presentable to the world?
Some of the most common impediments to stripping off your polish and revealing your natural nails, and how to fix them:
-Ridges: Did you ever see those multi-textured sticks that look like, but aren’t, regular emery boards? They’re your new best friend. With a few simple steps, you can buff your nails to a ridge-free shine that might even make it look like you’re wearing polish when you’re not.
-White spots: It used to be the belief that white spots on nails were caused by nutritional deficiencies–a lack of zinc, magnesium, and/or calcium. But doctors haven’t been able to come down firmly on this. It’s of course good to boost your intake of these key nutrients for general health, so adding some spinach, tofu, or almonds to your diet to combat spotted nails wouldn’t hurt. You could also be careful to avoid blunt trauma to your nails, which might be other other cause of these spots (think: bruise).
-Yellowing: The constant wearing of polish, especially dark colors, can cause unsightly yellowing or discoloration. But going a week or so sans color will allow the stained nails to grow out naturally. If you can’t wait, buffing might help shed that top layer of enamel, or try this DIY nail treatment using lemon juice.
-Dryness: It’s simple–just moisturize! The water and lotion that works wonders inside your body and out can also alleviate brittle or cracking nails and smooth cuticles.
When polishing your nails for a special event or if, heck, you just need some me-time at home or the salon, keep these things in mind:
-Let your nails breathe between manicures, since the top layer of the nail is literally where oxygen enters the body. Opening this passageway will improve circulation.
-Choose polishes that are 3-free (made without dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde) or 5-free (add to those formaldehyde resin and camphor) and non-acetone nail polish remover.
-Say no to gel polish, which literally eats away at the nail bed even with the safest of removal methods. Although they last longer and look oh-so shiny, gel manicures are like drinking a chemical cocktail.
Will bare be your new summer nail color?
Related: Best Formaldehyde-free Nail Polishes
Also by Jennifer: Purse Purge – 4 Ways to Lighten Your Load
Photos: Matt B. Flickr Creative Commons; Jennifer Kurdyla.