How to Look After Your Nails to Keep them Strong & Clean

For many of us nail care isn’t something we spend a lot of time on. Maybe you can’t live without regular manicure and pedicure treatments or maybe your idea of nail care is a quick snip of the toenails when a partner eyes them in disgust, but wherever you fall, you may not have given much thought to how you should be taking care of your nails yourself.

And yet, nails are one of the best indicators of health. Nobody likes them yellowed, brittle or damaged, and it’s perhaps especially important for those who do like to rock a manicure to keep them in perfect condition. After all, it means you can show off your latest colour to maximum effect, as well as countering the effects of regular nail treatments.

So, here’s how you can help keep your nails in tip-top condition.

Diet and lifestyle

Having a balanced diet is good for all sorts of reasons, but your nails will certainly thank you for keeping it healthy. Protein, grains and good fats are all nail-friendly foods – think avocados, olive oil, whole grain cereals and nuts. Eating well is key to keeping your nails supple, and drinking enough water is also essential. Keep yourself well hydrated and your nails will feel moisturised and strong.

Keep them clean

It may sound obvious, but keeping your hands clean is good for your nails. They go through a lot, our hands. When you’re washing them, pay particular attention to the area around and underneath the nails, making sure there are no traces of dirt. If you wear nail polish, remove it regularly and thoroughly with an acetone-free remover. Same goes for your toenails – don’t forget them just because they’re not as visible. They need a regular brush up, too.

Clip and trim

When it comes to fingernails many women like to wear theirs long (or use gels or acrylics – more on that later), but whatever your preference, it is still important to trim them regularly in order to help maintain steady and strong nail growth. Nail clippers often work better for toenails because the nails are usually thicker than the ones on your fingers, but nail scissors allow for a closer and more precise trim so are better for shaping fingernails.

You may have noticed that nail scissors come in different styles. Curved nail scissors make it easier to follow the natural shape of the nail when you are trimming them, whereas straighter edges will give your nail a blunter look.

File them smooth

Finish off your regular nail trims with a little filing action. A glass or steel file, like our Sapphire Pocket Nail File, is the best way to keep those edges smooth because it is less likely to snag than a disposable file. Sand files are great for keeping nails neat on the move too, and it’s a good idea to keep one handy, especially if your nails are prone to splitting.

Take care of your cuticles

You don’t want a cuticle covering half your fingernail. If you have ever had a manicure you have probably experienced the pushing back of your cuticles. This is something that many people skip on at home, but the manicurist will be able to tell if you don’t keep this up! If you have overgrown cuticles, dry, rough cuticles or hangnails, you can trim and shape the cuticles at home with specially designed cuticle scissors.

Polish, varnish, gels and acrylics

From a quick home polish to intricate nail art, many of us choose to decorate our nails – but regularly loading them up with chemicals is going to have an impact, so it’s worth bearing in mind these few final tips:

  • If you’re painting your nails yourself, always use a base and top coat. The base will keep the nail from being stained by your colour and the top coat will reduce the likelihood of chipping.
  • If you prefer a trip to the beautician, try not to go for acrylics or gels every time. Both can damage the surface of your nail, so use them sparingly
  • Whether you’re a home nail polisher or a lover of salon nail treatments, make sure you have regular breaks. Leaving your nails alone as often as possible is the best thing you can do to keep them strong and healthy.

How to keep your nails strong and hydrated

Hydrated nails are healthy nails. If nails become dehydrated, they’re likely to become brittle and more prone to breakage. To keep your nails nourished and hydrated, follow these easy tips: 

  • Moisturise your hands and nails frequently
  • Avoid nail polishes containing acetone
  • Add a nail strengthener to your nail care routine 
  • Avoid filing your nails after showering
  • Avoid biting your nails and cuticles 
  • Wear gloves when you’re washing up 

How often should you file your nails?

Everyone's nails grow at different rates, so how often you need to file them will depend on how quickly they grow. Typically, once a week should be enough. However, if your nails grow particularly quickly and you notice them chipping, it’s probably time to increase the filing. Alternatively, if your nails aren’t growing, refrain from over-filing them as it can be damaging.