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Having beautiful nails is less a matter of luck, and more a matter of caring for them correctly.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to take good care of your nails while helping them look fantastic.
9 tips for beautiful nails
Board-certified dermatologist Phoebe Rich, MD, FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, Portland, shares these top manicure and pedicure tips.
1) Cuticle care
Always be sure to protect your cuticles. Never cut or forcefully push them back, as doing so could lead to an infection. If you must push your cuticles back, only do so gently after a shower or bath (or soak).
2) Avoid yellowing, discolored nails
If you want to wear a bright red or orange polish, prevent discoloration to your natural nails by applying an extra layer of base coat. If your nails become yellowed and discolored from the polish, your nails should return to normal color over several weeks if the same type of color is not reapplied.
3) Moisturize your nails
Nails need to be moisturized, especially after removing nail polish, so be sure to apply a cream regularly. (Myria Editor’s note: We love the OPI Avojuice hand lotions for this.)
4) Gelatin won’t make nails stronger
While some people beg to differ, there is no scientific evidence that immersing nails in gelatin makes them stronger. Polishes that contain strengthening ingredients increase nail stiffness, which may make nails break more frequently.
While most nail salons follow strict cleanliness and disinfection guidelines, look for the following when visiting a salon:
Does your nail technician have the necessary experience and/or license, if required?
Are the stations clean?
Does the nail technician wash her hands between clients?
Are there dirty tools lying around?
Do not hesitate to ask how they clean their tools.
6) Bring your own mani/pedi tools
If you get frequent manicures and pedicures, consider purchasing your own tools to be used at the salon. That way, you’ll always know they’re clean, and you won’t be sharing germs with other clients.
7) Are the baths clean, too?
Check that the pedicure footbaths and filters are thoroughly disinfected before you use them. If they are improperly cleaned, they can harbor bacteria and fungus. If the salon does not appear clean, then choose another one. (Find BBB-accredited salons here.)
8) Shave your legs after your pedi
Shave your lower legs after getting a pedicure, not before — and that means not shaving your lower legs for at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure. If you nick yourself while shaving, a pedicure could put you at risk for an infection.
9) Thinking about fake nails?
Don’t wear artificial nails to cover up nail problems, as they may make the issue worse. Artificial nails are not recommended for people who are prone to fungal infections or have brittle nails. For people with healthy nails, artificial nails can be fine as long as they are not worn continuously.
“If you wear artificial nails, know what products are used, as the substances can cause an allergic reaction in some people,” says Dr Rich. “If you develop a rash or other reaction, this information will be important to your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about caring for your nails, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”