If you’re a fan of regular gel manicures, salon manicures, or even DIY home manicures, you may have noticed that your nails feel a little dry and brittle (mine do!). The various drying chemicals used in nail lacquer and remover seem even more damaging now that the weather has turned dryer and colder (in many places). The following suggestions can help you reduce your nails’ exposure to the toxic chemicals found in regular polish and give you ideas for gentler ways of keeping your nails looking chic.
Nails looking a little rough? Need to detox your manicure? Read on for healthy nail tips!
Skip polish altogether! This one is hard for me, but I try to do it every now and then in order to let my nails breathe! Don’t worry—you can go bare and still give yourself a manicure. First, trim and shape your nails and neaten your cuticles (but don’t trim them—cuticles help keep your nails healthy and infection-free, plus they just grow back super fast anyway!). Next, give yourself a buff manicure. You’ll just need a handy little buffing block to work your nails into high shine.
Because buffing does make the nail slightly thinner, it’s not a good idea to do a buff manicure too frequently. In my experience, however, buff manicures feel healthier than a regular mani because your nails still get to breathe! Plus, you can massage a hand balm or body oil onto your nails and cuticles daily to keep them conditioned.
A note on filing your nails: To reduce the risk or raggedness along the tips of your nails, only file in one direction. Filing back and forth, although a far more efficient method, will rough up the nail fibers, making your nails more likely to tear. Filing in one direction gets easier with time.
But I’ve got to wear polish! It’s the holiday season, after all! Okay, if you must wear polish for important events or just because, give your nails a few days off between manicures and be sure to give them some TLC with a rich lotion or salve. When you do polish your nails, rock a 5-free brand. Five-free brands exclude formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, toluene, and phthalates (or DBP) from their formulas. Here’s more info on why we should avoid these chemicals. The bottom line is that it’s important to remember that nails are an extension of our skin, meaning that they absorb what we put on them. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Priti NYC Polish, which offers several chic shades without the nasties.
Priti NYC Polish in “Alister Stella Gray Rose“
If you do wear polish, opt for a safer remover. The standard nail polish available at most stores contains acetone, which totally zaps the moisture from nails. In addition to making your nails feel like paper, acetone isn’t the healthiest chemical out there. Although removing nail polish only requires moderate exposure to diluted acetone, if you can avoid the stuff altogether, please do!
A few years ago, I started using Nutra Nail Odor Free Non-Damaging Polish Remover. It’s acetone-free and not offensive to the nose. It doesn’t destroy the nail bed like acetone. This stuff is pretty effective with most regular polish, but it may take a little more elbow grease to fully remove your polish. (Acetone-free polish remover won’t remove gel nail polish, however. You’ll need pure acetone for that nuclear-war-proof stuff.)
How do you take care of your nails in the winter weather?
More get-pretty ideas: 5 Winter Beauty Updates to Get You Party Ready
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell