1. Don’t Buy Into The Rule: ‘Nails Need To Breathe’
Despite what people say, nails do not need to breathe by taking breaks from polish. With gels, yes you need a break, but not from regular polish. So, keep them covered with a solid base coat, preferably one with nourishing ingredients. This will work like a shield to prevent breakage or splitting of the free edge.
SL Recommends: Jessica Reward Basecoat For Normal Nails; Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat; OPI Base Coat
2. Understand Why Brittle Nails Happen
Brittle nails is usually down to a lack of nutrients in the diet. Sometimes, medication can have a profound effect on the condition of your nails too. If you find they’re thick and shattering low down on the nail frequently, seek advice.
SL Recommends: Avon Strengthening Treatment; Solgar Natural Vitamin E
3. Invest In A Cuticle Oil, And Lots Of It
It’s the simplest way to keep nails healthy and strong, yet it’s often neglected by many. Always keep one in your bag or car. Applying an oil not only helps soften cuticles, but also helps the nails to grow as well by adding nutrients and instant nourishment. Massage oils in to your cuticles to feed the nail and stimulate circulation and growth.
SL Recommends: Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil; Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème; Jessica’s Phenomen Oil
4. Stop Submerging Nails In Water
Contrary to popular belief, water doesn’t hydrate the nails if you soak them for too long. Regular swimming and long baths, or washing up without gloves, can cause peeling of the nail. This is because moisture can penetrate nail fibres, expanding and lifting them, which then in turn results in flakiness and peeling, weakening the nail straight away.
5. Always Wear A Basecoat Under Gel Nails
Whether you’re doing it yourself or asking your therapist, always make sure you have a basecoat applied underneath a gel polish. Some people skip this but it’s vital for making sure some nourishment still gets through to the nails, as with gels, you’re basically blocking oil seeping in for weeks on end. In between your gel appointments, it’s advisable to use a nourishing basecoat for a couple of weeks to bring them back to life.
6. Cap A Regular Mani For Long-Lasting Results
I always suggest capping the free edge (tip) of each nail with your nail polish, followed by a top coat to help seal your colour – both these acts will help your mani to last significantly longer and it’s only a small tweak. Simply seal the polish with a horizontal stroke on the top of your nail. It’s also worth avoiding excessive heat (think baths, showers, saunas) for four to six hours after your mani, as well as using gloves for added protection when doing manual/housework. You can also continue to rub in cuticle oil for extra hydration – but if you’re wearing regular polish, make sure you wait 24 hours before doing this to avoid any smudging or streaks.
7. Never Forget The Importance Of A Good Top Coat
It sounds basic, but a good top coat can help to cover a multitude of sins. It’s the ultimate hack for sealing little chips in polish, as well as maximising treatments benefits – be it a gel or regular mani. It keeps everything looking glossy too, which is perfect if your gel mani has gone a little lacklustre.
SL Recommends: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat; Essie Gel Setter Top Coat; Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat
8. File In One Direction Only
I always see people filing their nails in both directions – don’t. Keep your file on one side of the nail, use the full range of it moving to the other side in one swift stroke. So not a forwards and backwards sawing motion as this can separate the fibres and cause peeling. Make sure you file them regularly too, it helps and encourages them to be strong, just like trimming the ends of your hair.
9. Choose Your Nail File Carefully
Each nail type needs a different file, just like skincare. Soft, normal and hard nail files are now available and the one you pick all depends on how hard your nails are. If you’ve got a really soft base, you won’t want to file with something too harsh, so it’s worth looking at glass files which are naturally a bit gentler and don’t bend the nail too much. Thick, hard nail files tend to tear and cause premature breakage.
10. Take Simple Steps To Prevent Gels Peeling
Although gels are dry after all layers have been cured, it is still so important to know about the aftercare. Avoid hot water treatments such as steam, sauna and jacuzzi for the first 24 hours as water can get underneath, causing the gel layers to peel and lift sooner than they would normally. You should steer clear of harsh chemicals too, such a bleach or cleaning products, hair dye and even perfume can cause lifting and discolouration, as can the sun, so look for a top coat with UV filters, like Jessica’s Brilliant Top Coat, and apply liberally when away on holiday.
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