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How-To: Healthy Nails

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.


Join The Conversation
LRW1 LRW1 7 years
I take 3000 mcg Biotin daily and my nails grow like crazy,but I have deep ridges on my thumbnails and haven't found a cure yet..buffing seems to thin the nail plate even further,for me anyway. Dr. says it's due to my thyroid condition.
any any 7 years
thanx sugar for the info... ever since i started eating fruits for breakfast (apple- bananas- pear) and drinking more water instead of soda, i have seen my nails healthier, they are growing and stronger than before :P
sarasonne sarasonne 8 years
Calcium supplements! My nail were constantly breaking all the time until I started taking Ca + D about 8 years ago. Works better than ANY bottle strengthener.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
and i have lunula only on my thumbs. is that bad?
Allytta Allytta 8 years
6 months? mine are done in 1,5-2 months ;))) recenytly got a white line at the bottom and just 3 days ago i filled it off.
ChristinaMUFE ChristinaMUFE 8 years
Very good tips!!!! Thanks Bella!!!
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 8 years
I used to be a nail biter for YEARS and I have kicked the habit recently and am so freakin EXCITED about it I cannot contain myself!!! Good luck with your struggle cuz as a biter I know it is a struggle (it still is for me I have to remind myself not to bite in moments of tension)The funny thing for me is that I stopped biting by getting arcylic done on them and then I just stopped going to get my nails done because truthfully I was lazy and now they are the strongest they have ever been so that has also been a big reason for me not to bite since they use to be paper thin.
thelorax thelorax 8 years
Applying nail hardener RELIGIOUSLY is the only thing that seems to deter me from cuticles, oddly enough (GROSS, I know). I recommend Nail Tek, which I've found at a couple beauty supply stores and also Long's, for $9.99. Sally Hansen stuff tends to peel at the edges with just a little picking, and then you have more to pick at...bad news bears!!
running-home running-home 9 years
I forgot to say that it lasts through a lot of hand washing too, so no worries.
running-home running-home 9 years
As an ex-nail biter I can offer one piece of advice: buy nail polish remover, and wipe it over your nails and wherever else you bite. It stings like hell on raw cuticles, but I thought of it as punishment for causing the harm in the first place...a little masochistic, I know. The nasty taste serves a a good reminder to not chew your fingers. I found that cutex brand tasted the worst, in particular, the blue formula. Hope this helps! :)
kahribar kahribar 9 years
Pretty good advice. Thanks.
kathleenjoy kathleenjoy 9 years
if you are a nail biter who are you to offer advice Bella, if you can't take it Bella? ;-) that was said tongue in cheek, by the way!
rachi99 rachi99 9 years
colormesticky: my toenails, especially on my pinky toes, do that, even as short as they are. I wonder if my fingernails might too (I'm a violinist, so I have to keep mine extremely short.)
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
Which sounds totally gross, but I keep them relatively short so you can't tell.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
My problem isn't my cuticles. It's that my nails grow in really weird shapes. My index fingers are kind of flat and slanted, my thumb nails curl inward, and the middle nails are flat. My only good fingernails are on the ring fingers and pinkies. :/
emalove emalove 9 years
I used to be a nail-biter, so I know how hard it can be to kick that nervous habit...but once you do it and see how beautiful your nails can be, you'll never go back!
chiquita29 chiquita29 9 years
My nails grow way too fast, I hate long nails and I have to cut them down every few days. Good luck Bella!
WiCkeD_LaDy WiCkeD_LaDy 9 years
Keep up with the good work Bella, about the No bitten-nail idea... since i was a little girl i did that and stop doing it till i was 18, now i have nice, ready to get painted nails, so.. keep up, you can do it !!!
carrieann9016 carrieann9016 9 years
I have never been a nail biter, but i have ridges very bad and always have. I buff them down but it does not do much good. They come right back in a week or so. My nails grow very fast. I am taking prenatal vitamins so they grow even faster. I trim my cuticles every couple of weeks and try to keep them pushed back. I have the "half moons" on my thumb, pointer and middle fingers on both hands. i have to cut my nails every other week it seems like otherwise they get too long. I put lotion on several times a day everyday. Pretty much after every time I wash my hands. I put cuticle cream on when I think of it.
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
I have LOTS of vertical ridges (the not so bad ones...) They are terrible, and I've heard it is a sign of aging.. I'm only 29! I buff them down, but boy do them come right back.... and in less time than 6 months! Any ideas? My BF picks and chews his nails.. I beg him to stop, but he's been doing it since he was a kid.. he's tried everything, so if you get a good trick, let us know!!
Vanilla-Bean Vanilla-Bean 9 years
I only have the white half moon shape on my thumb nails. Is that normal?
baciobisou baciobisou 9 years
I'm on the same treacherous mission. So far so good with only 2 casualties so far (one nail on the left hand tore, and I fell to stress and gnawed on a right fingernail ahh) I moisturize my cuticles at least once a day. Apply a hardener at least 5 times a week, and supplement my diet with biotin pills. Hopefully I make it!
tulipsc tulipsc 9 years
not so sure... I am a nail-biter myself :( I only go to nail salon to do my pedicure :p
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