With a whole month of festive cheer behind us, many of us will be feeling the effects – not just on our waistlines, but also in our nails.
Those who indulged in Shellac or gel polish over Christmas may well have found their talons are now dry, brittle and prone to breaking.
To make matters worse, you may not have got round to getting the hard-wearing polish properly removed at a salon, meaning you’re now resorting to picking it off bit by bit.
But there are a few simple steps you can take to reset and revive your nails to their former glory.
Kirsten Hazell, 32, from Oxfordshire, founder of chic nail bar chain London Grace, has shared her top tips for boosting the health of your nails with FEMAIL – and one involves simply tapping the desk…
NEVER PICK OFF YOUR POLISH
With a whole month of festive cheer behind us, many of us will be feeling the effects – not just on our waistlines, but also in our nails. Pictured: stock image
‘Whatever you do, do not pick off your gel or glitter polish,’ Kirsten warned.
‘When you do this you’re also taking off the top layers of your natural nail, so it is really important to have it removed properly.
‘There are plenty of kits available to do this at home – you can purchase one on Amazon, and we also sell an At Home Gel Removal Kit which includes foil wraps with cotton soak pads conveniently attached – the same products we use in store.’
If you’re wearing glitter polish which can sometimes be resistant to rubbing with regular nail varnish remover, Kirsten advises soaking the nails in acetone.
‘This will help the glitter polish to come off more easily,’ she said.
Kirsten Hazell is founder of nail bar chain London Grace. She fell in love with the mani-pedi experience while living in New York
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
You may already be undergoing a January detox, and your nails will thank you for it.
If you’ve noticed they’ve become weaker and started to peel and split, it could be down to you not drinking enough water – or overindulging in alcohol or caffeine which can leave you dehydrated.
Kirsten explained: ‘In the same way your skin reacts to overindulgence by looking dry, your nails become drier too, so drinking water is key.
‘Strong, long and shiny nails with smooth skin around the edges are a sign the bed is healthy.’
TAP THEM TO GROW
Kirsten shared a clever trick for boosting nail growth that you can do at work or at home – though you might get a few funny looks.
‘Tapping your nails on a table actually does encourage them to grow!’ she said.
‘The more blood flowing to the nails, the more they are stimulated to grow. This is another argument for regularly massaging in cuticle oil and hand lotion to encourage stimulation and growth.’
DON’T FORGET PRODUCTS
The cold weather causes a whole load of beauty problems, and your nails are not immune.
… OR YOUR GLOVES
Kirsten also recommends investing in gloves in the winter months – both rubber and for the outdoors.
‘They are the easiest way to protect your nails,’ she said. ‘Too much water and soap can dry the nails out. Water expands the nails which can cause cracking if you’re wearing polish or gel – which is why we perform all our treatments dry.’
‘People probably most quickly notice it on their skin and hair, but your nails respond to the cold and dry weather too, which is why you’ll find they are more likely to break and you’re more likely to get hang nails and breakages,’ Kirsten said.
‘Cuticle oil and hand cream will not only be a little treat but will help strengthen your nails.’
Kirsten said if you’re using a good hand lotion with high quality ingredients, then a 5p sized amount is perfect.
‘During the winter this should be applied at least one to two times a day,’ she said.
‘A good trick is to keep one on your bedside table and treat yourself to a little pampering hand massage before you go to bed and in the morning when you wake up.’
Kirsten also recommends investing in gloves in the winter months – both rubber and for the outdoors – to protect your nails. Pictured: stock image
GIVE YOURSELF AN AT HOME MANICURE
If you’re a bit strapped for cash after Christmas and can’t afford a trip to the salon, you can give your nails a simple treatment at home.
Before you begin, wash your hands with lukewarm water and an anti-bacterial soap.
Make sure the hands are thoroughly dry and use a small amount of nail polish remover to cleanse each nail and remove excess oil before applying a base coat.
Use a file and nail buff to maintain length, shape and smoothness, while a cuticle pusher will help to keep the nail bed looking tidy.
REMEMBER: WEARING POLISH IS NOT BAD FOR YOUR NAILS
Regular manicures can help to improve your general nail condition; Kirsten said having them every two to four weeks is fine.
‘If you choose a 10-free polish and use a cuticle oil daily, then regularly having nail varnish is OK,’ she added.
‘Using a cuticle oil daily can help prolong your polish as it provides an extra barrier of protection and nourished nails are much less likely to break or chip.
‘Bare nails also benefit from a few drops of cuticle oil to promote shiny, smooth and healthy-looking nails.
‘There’s a myth that your nails need to “breathe”, but they actually get their nutrients from our bloodstream.
‘However, we’d recommend alternating every now and then between polish and a treatment, such as our Renew + Revive, to hydrate and recondition.’
‘It’s commonly thought that cutting your own cuticles is fine, but this is one thing that we would recommend going to a salon for,’ Kirsten advised.
‘While it’s fine to push them back with a cuticle pusher at home – a great time to do this is after having a shower when they are slightly softer from the steam – but removing them needs to be done carefully.
‘Your cuticles are part of your skin and so important for protecting your nails from bacteria and infections.’
She added: ‘Whether you file or cut your nails depends on your length. If they’re longer, cutting is much better as filing down too much can cause splitting.
‘If it’s just to take off a little length, then filing is better. To keep nails in tip top condition they should be filed on a weekly basis – but this will depend on your nail condition; if they’re weak and breaking, it might need to be more regularly than if they are strong and longer.’
When it comes to filing, Kirsten recommended using your cuticle line as a guide for your natural shape.
‘If using a professional quality file, you can lightly sweep back and forth until you’re happy with the shape,’ she said.
‘Different shapes like squoval and almond are best to ask for in a salon as they are trickier to create at home.’
Kirsten’s top tip is to knock the base of the polish bottle on your hand before using it to mix the fluid. Apply two thin coats of colour and then finish with a glossy topcoat.
‘Making sure you have a good base coat, colour and topcoat will ensure that your manicure will last longer,’ she said.