I've been a nail-biter for two solid decades and what remains of my once elegant hands are so very sad. My nail beds are short and stumpy and my cuticles are pink, jagged and puffy. Every year I make a resolution to stop gnawing my nubs, and this time I'm going to do it. If you're wondering how to keep your hands healthy and looking their best, here are a few tips to help you along the way.
- A nail should ideally have smooth skin folds (the area around your nail), flesh-colored cuticles (not raised or puffy) and a white lunula (half-moon shape at the bottom of your nail bed). Nails should also be consistent in color and free of horizontal ridges and dents. If your nails have any of these conditions, it could be indicative of illness.
- White spots on your fingernails are OK. They are caused by injury and will typically grow out. However, red, black, green and yellow spots should be brought to the attention of a physician.
- Avoid picking at your cuticles. This can lead to cuts and infection. Have a manicurist push them back manicures with clean tools (you don't want to contract a fungus).
- Moisturize your cuticles and nails often. Whenever possible, apply a hydrating cream and wear white, cotton gloves before bed (as a deep conditioning treatment).
- Short, square shaped nails (with rounded edges) are the easiest to maintain. Keep them covered with a hardener, polish or treatment that is free of toluene, DPB and formaldehyde. Also, I recommend an acetone-free polish so you don't dry out your nails and cuticles.
- Did you know that nails grow around 0.1 millimeters a day? This means that your nails take about four to six months for full re-growth. So be patient if you don't see results instantaneously.