As you know, here at Elizabeth Street, we’re fans of the manicure—though we’d skip the gel or shellac ones. However, in the New Year we’ve resolved to be more health conscious, even when it comes to ostensibly minute details, like how often we paint our nails. Or, speaking to the naturalists among us, how much attention we pay them in general.
The condition of your fingernails and toenails can say a lot about your health and hygiene. Vanity or just cleanliness may have you taking multiple trips to the salon every month. But no matter how primped and polished your digits may appear, it’s what lies beneath that counts.
Nails, like skin, are made up of epidermal cells. But these particular bundles of cells are tightly packed, considered “dead,” and filled with a protein known as keratin. Like skin, your nails require exposure to oxygen to stay healthy. The keratin in your nails allows water to pass through them. Needless to say, polish prevents all this from happening, which is why chronic salon-goers often notice irregular ridges, peeling, and discoloration on their nails. Yellow staining, while in some cases a sign of infection, is often just the result of contact with pigments and chemicals. Even most water-based nail polishes contain solvents and the film-forming agent nitrocellulose, which is also used in car paints. Additionally, frequent painting can leave nails thinner, brittle, and more susceptible to breakage.
The takeaway? Give your nails some room to breathe, but don’t simply ignore them. In between manis, your fingers and toes should have a week off from polish. Moisturize, strengthen and nourish your nails with treatments full of Vitamin E, coconut and sunflower oils. And coat on some reinforcing serum for good measure