What's the best way to care for my cuticles?
The number one reason for hangnails is that your cuticles are too dry. When you see ragged cuticles or hangnails, it's your body's way of telling you to apply hand cream or lotion. No one moisturizes their cuticles enough. Keep several moisturizers with pumps around the house, and whenever you come across one, use it.
It's best not to cut your cuticles. The cuticle is to keep bacteria from entering your body, so it's best to keep it where it is. But you must groom them. You need is a good cuticle remover to soften the cuticle and an orange stick. After you apply it the cuticle remover, gently push back cuticles with the orange stick. Then move the orange stick in tiny circles around the base of the nail to help remove the dead skin and debris that may be there. Do this at least three times per nail. When the debris is lifted, wipe it with a cotton ball. Then moisturize.
FILING AND SHAPING YOUR NAILS
It is best to file your nails only when the white part of the nail-the tip-has grown ¼ inch from the nail's stress point, which is where the free edge meets the pink part of the nail plate. If you file your nails before this point, it can weaken them. At the same time, if you let your free edge grow longer than the nail plate, it is certain your nail will break. Do not file from side to side, which can weaken the stress points of the nail's free edge. Be sure to go from corner to center in one direction, using the groove on the side of your nail as a guide
Choosing a File
Stay away from metal nail files since they are very harsh and can even split nails. One wrong swipe and you've ruined your nail shape. Most manicurists recommend a soft, straight file that won't cause any damage if you swipe it the wrong way.
Shaping the Nail
There are many ways to determine your nail's shape. Many people want to have their nails cut square, which may come from the belief that square-cut nails are stronger. This is a myth-in fact, if you shape them correctly, all nail shapes are equally as strong. If your cuticle is oval shaped at the base, the square look may work for you, but if you have a pointed cuticle, you may want to go with a more oval-shaped nail. Now, the trend is a softer shape.
How to keep your nails healthy
The best way to make sure your nails are healthy is to moisturize them daily, and care for your cuticles. The cuticle is the nail's protection between the exposed dead part of the nail and the matrix, where new cells are generated. Removing the cuticle destroys the nail matrix, which is essential to healthy nail growth. On the other hand, you do want to keep cuticles from becoming overgrown, which suffocates nail growth. The solution: Liberally apply a cuticle remover (not cuticle oil or cuticle cream), which will make the cuticle more pliable. Then, take an orangewood stick and anywhere the cuticle skin touches the nail plate, push it back using tiny circular movements. Hold the stick at an angle so that you do this gradually and gently, without going inside the cuticle. Use a moisturizer daily to prevent dryness.
Though you can't feed the nail directly, a good diet is essential to overall nail health. Biotin-rich foods like eggs, soy, whole grains and liver are said to be extremely helpful to nails, along with foods rich in sulfur minerals like apples, cucumbers, grapes, garlic, asparagus and onions. Also, be sure your diet includes essential fatty acids, or EFAs. Like vitamins and minerals, foods rich in EFA's, such as salmon, nuts, seeds and tuna, help keep nails shiny and pliable.
Do Not Use Your Fingernails as Tools
Using your fingernails as tools to perform tasks -- pushing back your cuticles or scratching a label off a CD is a no-no! Use proper tools for picking and scraping and not your nails.
Removing Nail Polish
The best way to remove polish is to place cotton on an orangewood stick, and douse it in remover. This implement will give you the most control since you want to make sure to remove your polish with getting as little remover as possible on the cuticle.
Choosing a Nail Polish Remover
There are many different kinds of removers from which to choose. Those containing acetone take off the polish quickly but can dehydrate your cuticles. You might want to go this route if you are trying to remove bold, deep or bright shades of nail lacquer. Non-acetone removers take longer to remove polish but dry the nail and cuticle as well. Gel remover is the best moisturizing remover, but the flip side is that it takes a while to actually remove the polish. Sometimes, your best bet is to go with an acetone-based remover that contains hydrating oils, such as lavender or aloe vera. These types of oils help neutralize the dry effect of the acetone. At the same time they may cut down on the strong odor of the remover.
Unfortunately, if you have weak nails you can't permanently change them. You can, however, do things to make them stronger.
Use a nail strengthener. Many women are confused about how to use these products, so here are a few tips:
Make sure you apply a thin coat, because you'll be applying it daily -- you don't want it to build up too much.
If you're at the beginning stages of growing out your nails, use only a strengthener on your nail plate and apply it every day.
If you want to apply nail enamel, use the strengthener as a base coat and as a top coat. Then continue to apply the strengthening product every day. Remember, too much strengthening can actually make your nails brittle, so you might want to try a strengthening system..