Ombré and marbleized manis, and washing loads of post-Thanksgiving dishes has done a number on our nails. Having a job where I’m constantly picking open lipstick packaging and putting on and taking off lacquer doesn’t help. And the winter weather? Oh, the dryness. Here’s how to infuse a little TLC into your tips (so we can get back to enjoying crazy manis, stat).
Show them glove. Excess water and frigid temperatures dry out nails and can cause them to flake. Wear rubber gloves when washing the dishes or cleaning your bathroom (even better—get someone else to do it for you). And when it’s cold out, wear gloves or mittens to protect hands—and, in turn, nails—from drying and chapping.
Moisturize well. There’s a reason fancy hotel bathrooms stock a bottle of lotion next to the hand soap. Every time you wash your hands, you should moisturize them immediately afterward. Creams that contain urea or lactic acid work best—they’ll keep hands supple as well as help prevent nails from peeling.
Keep cuticle oil handy. Last week Julep Nail Parlour in Seattle sent Niki, a manicurist from Spa Chicks On The Go, to our office here in New York for a manicure with one of their eco-friendly polishes. I told Niki of my dry nail woes. “Do you use a cuticle oil?” she asked. “At night,” I replied, “but I use hand cream regularly.” Turns out that doesn’t cut it. She recommended applying cuticle oil every time you slather on hand cream. “Just stash one in your purse,” she said. The trick is finding one that won’t get all over your keyboard: Julep has one in a roll-on formula that isn’t at all messy and will never spill in your bag. Best of Beauty winner Sally Hansen VitaSurge Cuticle Gel is viscous, with a sponge-tip applicator, so it’s easy to put on and won’t get all over the place.
Read ingredients labels. Look for formaldehyde-free polish and acetone-free remover, which won’t strip nails of moisture like harsher formulas. Then, try to keep nails polish-free one day a week to give them a rest, says dermatologist Richard K. Scher who specializes in nail health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. On that day, reach for your moisturizer and cuticle oil—those products are more effective when nails are bare, according to Scher.
__Take a supplement.__Alpha hydroxy acid (a common ingredient in many moisturizers) can help fortify brittle nails. So as can biotin, a member of the vitamin B family, but only when take orally, says Scher.
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