Top Do’s and Don’ts for Nail Health

There is so much information being thrown at us all day every day, but how do we filter through the noise and know what is real and what is fake news when it comes to nails? Look no further than The Dr. Dana Blog, On the Nail, where we share expert content about nail health, unique nail beauty tips, and the most up-to-date nail health and science news!

Not All Nail Files are Created Equal

Nail Care Don’t: When it comes to filing your nails, not all files are created equal. Did you know that common cardboard emery boards create microscopic tears in the nail surface that lead to fissures and peeling? The fissures can also cause nail polish to prematurely chip, too—not ideal!

Nail Care Do: Use a glass nail file instead of an emery board nail file. Glass files have a gentle glass face that creates a clean perfect edge at the nail edge every time. With this gentle tool, you can file in any direction you please. A huge perk? Your nails will peel less and nail polish will go on smoother and last longer. Sign me up!

Give Your Nails a Break

If you notice that your nails are starting to look damaged or you have observed show white patches, peeling, or splitting, it may be time to take a nail polish holiday.

Nail Care Don’t: The worst thing you can do for nail health is to camouflage the damage. When you see that your nails look unhealthy, your innate response may be to cover them up—but Dr. Dana advises against this ….because your nails are a window into health and disease. Chronic camouflage of the nail may hide a health issue that needs to be addressed.

Nail Care Do: It is time to take a break from color and all that dehydrating polish remover. Pull back the polish reins and treat your nails with some extra TLC. Look for nail products that are rich in phospholipids—like sunflower oil—and ones that contain exfoliating keratolytics. This will remove nail surface damage and allow for the more effective absorption of hydrating ingredients.

Ingredients Matter!

Please pay attention to product ingredients! Many nail products that tout themselves as nail treatments or hardeners contain formaldehyde or formalin, which can be very damaging to the nail. Formaldehyde will initially harden the nail; however, with time, the nail will become paradoxically brittle and is at risk for separation of the nail from the bed (onycholysis).

Nail Care Don’t: Avoid products that contain formaldehyde. This common nail strengthening ingredient, can also cause severe allergic reactions at the surrounding nail folds, where the skin can become irritated, swollen, and painful.

If the nail strengthener you are considering requires removal, then it is by definition a polish and not a nail treatment.

Nail Care Do: There are many nail products out there that are both effective and safe for your health. Look for products that contain natural ingredients. Nail products that are formulated by experts and backed by science are a no-brainer. Your health—and nails!—will thank you.

Caution with Cuticles!

Nail Care Don’t: Avoid cutting or removing the cuticle. The cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal. It is like the grout in between the tiles in your shower because it prevents water from entering the nail unit. This amazing membranous structure is the key to a healthy nail.

Nail Care Do: Instead of trimming or chemical removal, gently push back the cuticle after a warm shower or bath. Keep cuticles hydrated with oils or ointments that are rich in essential oils. Creams don’t absorb into the cuticle as well.

Be Careful with Nail Tools

Nail Care Don’t: For those heading to the salon, be sure that single-use products such as toe separators, files, and abrasives are used once and disposed of. These porous items can harbor and transmit bacteria and fungus, contributing to fungal infection! Do not let technicians reuse a product on you that you did not see them either disinfect or take out from a new, sterilized package.

Nail Care Do: As for the clipper you use at home, do make sure the blade is sharp—a dull blade will cause tears and splits in the nail plate. If you have a tendency to develop ingrown toenails, cut the toenails straight across as opposed to on a curve to prevent embedding.
And let’s please set the record straight on this… Nails don’t breathe! Rather, nails derive their oxygen and nutrients from good, healthy blood flow. What does that mean? Healthy circulation to the hands and feet will optimize nail health and beauty. Think cardio, brisk walks and anything that gets your heart rate up. Hand and foot massage is also a great way to improve blood flow to the fingers and toes.