September 7, 2014

American Advice, Volume 1: The Importance of Wearing Nail Polish

My blog just turned one month old yesterday!   And since the tagline of my blog is "French tips and American advice," I figured it was about time I shared some advice on nail care!  There's a LOT of rambling I can do about nail care, so I'll be rambling about a different aspect of nail care throughout a series of American Advice posts.  Today I'm going to be focusing on ways to keep your nails strong and healthy.

The easiest part of my nail care process is that I take Biotin vitamins every morning with my breakfast.  I buy it in 5000mcg, and I think it's also sold in 1000mcg pills.  Biotin will help your nails (and hair!) to grow faster and stronger, making it much easier to have long nails - and keeping short nails healthier.  (Biotin also helps with digestion of carbohydrates, so if you love bread as much as I do, it can be quite helpful there!)

But it takes close to three months to see the effects of taking Biotin, because that's how long it takes your nails to grow out completely.  (Obviously, this varies based on how long you keep your nails.)  So what do you do while you wait for the Biotin-enhanced nails to grow out, to help prevent your nails from cracking, chipping, peeling, and breaking?

First things first - NEVER go naked.  EVER.  We're often told by various beauty magazines and such that nail polish prevents our nails from "breathing," and that we should spend some time without anything painted on our nails.  This is super untrue!  Our nails need to breathe about as much as our dishes do.  Nail polish actually acts like a shield for our nails.  Nails need their natural oils in order to stay strong and healthy.  Water, as we know, washes away oils, especially if you throw soap into the mix - which I hope you do after you go to the bathroom.  But nail polish can help to slow down the rate of water absorption, because polish isn't as porous as nails! 

Ever notice how after a shower, your nails are sort of bendy?  That's the water absorption.  But shower with nail polish on and your nails won't be quite as bendy afterwards - because the layers of polish helped to keep the water out.  Slowing down water absorption is very important for nail health, because wet nails are super susceptible to cracking, peeling, and breaking.

Now, I know we can't all make sure to have perfect nail polish on our nails at all times - even I can't always have a pretty color or design on my nails, and I don't have a job or a social life.  There are plenty of nail strengtheners on the market that are a simple clear paint, so you can throw it on your nails quickly after removing your previous manicure.  I use Sally Hansen Advanced Hard as Nails.  Other good products include OPI Nail Envy and ORLY's variety of nail strengtheners.  Probably every major nail polish company makes a strengthening base coat of sorts.  If you don't feel like spending the extra dough, I recommend at least using a few coats of your usual base coat polish between manicures.

One thing that still plagues my nails, even after 8 months of taking Biotin, is peeling.  The problem with peeling nails is that once it peels once, the nail is going to tend to peel in the same place continually as the nail continues to grow.  It's sort of like perforated paper: once it rips, it's really easy to keep ripping and sort of hard to stop it ripping.  So how do you stop it?  Well, if anyone knows, please tell me!

But really, it is super hard to stop nails from peeling once they start.  The wrong thing to do, however, is to peel them on purpose.  If you notice a layer of nail trying to peel off, don't encourage it!  The best thing I can say is to keep polish on that baby at all costs.  BUT, don't let that nail polish crack or chip!  Chipped polish can break off a layer of your nail.  Try to keep that bit of peeling nail secured down (with polish or nail glue) until it grows out.

All right, I think that's enough for one post.  For more detailed information about the strength of nail polish, check out this post on Nail Care HQ, and for more details about nail peeling, check out this post.

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