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How to Get Better Nails

9 Reasons You Don't Have the Nails You Want

Your hands can reveal a lot about you, from a nervous disposition to even medical ailments. It's time to stop hiding your nails from the world, though. Grow longer, stronger nails with these nine talon-saving tips.

1. You Bite
You've been a busy beaver chomping on your tips. Not only does nail-biting (aka onychophagia) hinder growth, but it can facilitate the spread of infections and harm your teeth. Especially avoid ripping off hangnails with your mouth; soften the skin with moisturizer and clip carefully instead.

2. You Skip Cuticle Care
Hydrating your nail bed is crucial for achieving long, shiny nails. Moisturize the cuticle with oil and lotion often. Also when you visit the salon, skip cuticle cutting and opt for a gentle push-back instead.

3. You Overwork Your Tips
Filing and buffing can leave you with jagged, peeling ends if you do it the wrong way. Use a fine-grit emery board to shape your nails, sweeping in one direction on each side for the smoothest finish. Choose a shape that is most like your nail bed for the most natural look, as well. And while buffing gives you a smooth surface, restrict this ritual to about once a month to avoid wearing down your nails.

4. You Use a Rough Remover
Acetone not only is intensely scented, but it can dry out your nails, too (especially if you soak). Try a soy or nonacetone brand as an alternative, like Priti NYC Soy Remover ($11). It may take longer to get the polish off, but your nails will thank you for it.

5. You Need Nutrients
Nails are composed of keratin (like hair), not bone. So while calcium is still great for your nails, you should reach for foods high in iron, protein, and zinc to grow strong talons. Eggs, legumes, and supplements like biotin can help you reach your lengthy nail goals.

6. You're Yellowing
One nasty side effect for manicure lovers is yellowing nails, since nail polish can stain the nails over time. But don't worry; you can prevent discoloration by always using a base coat.

7. You Smoke
Add your nails to the long list of reasons to kick your nicotine habit. The heat from a burning cigarette can dry out cuticles, and the tar and nicotine can color nails yellow. No, thanks.

8. You Wear the Wrong Shoe Size
Don't smash your feet into too-small shoes (not even a trendy designer pair). The toe crunch can cause bruised, blackened, cracked, and ingrown nails. Speaking of the latter, prevent ingrowns by trimming toenails straight across instead of in a rounded shape.

9. You Don't Wear Gloves
Your hands help you clean up the worst messes. Read: they're subject to germs galore. If you have a particularly tough job to do, make sure to wear gloves to protect the nail bed from infection, bad breaks, and the harshness of some common home cleansers.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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