As a woman I believe that modern women today are most likely to suffer from unhealthy nails or health conditions that damage them. Why? Modern women almost always have polish, acrylics, gels or stick ons all of which conceal the true condition of the nails while at the same time making them look very beautiful. In the quest to attain beautiful nails, many women have also ended up getting infections that were severe and in some cases demanded the amputation of a finger, hand, toe or foot.

So how can you ensure that your nails stay healthy and beautiful? Here are a few tips.

1. Cuticle Removal

Most infections we get while having manicures and pedicures done are as a result of wrong cuticle removal. The main purpose of the cuticle is to protect the nail bed from inflammation and infections. The proper way to remove cuticles is by first applying some cuticle lotion to soften the cuticles then soaking your fingernails or toenails in warm water. Using a cuticle remover, gently push the cuticles back. Once this is done the pushed back cuticle will be raised over the nail bed. This is what we call the excess cuticle. Use a nail clipper to cut the excess cuticle. Do not remove or pull the cuticles to try and remove them and don’t allow the beautician at the salon to forcefully remove the cuticles. Should you do this, you leave your nail bed exposed and susceptible to infections and inflammation. After cutting off excess cuticle, apply cuticle lotion or hand lotion so as to keep your nails and cuticles soft and moisturized.

2. Dietary Needs

A diet rich in Vitamin A, Calcium and Phosphorous will help prevent your nails from being dry and brittle. Foods rich in Vitamin A include apricots, carrots cheese and broccoli. Foods rich in calcium include milk, yoghurt, cheese & almonds. Carrot juice is rich in calcium and Phosphorous.

Hang nails are small strips of skin that separate from the cuticles. To prevent hangnails take foods rich in protein, folic acid and vitamin C.
Spirulina and kelp are very good diet supplements that help make your nails healthy and strong.

A diet rich in Vitamin B 12, which is found in foods such as eggs, fish, liver, beef, oysters, can prevent your nails from dryness, rounded nails, curved nails and darkening of nails.
Overall, a diet rich in fruits and raw vegetables will result in very strong healthy nails since these foods are rich in Vitamins and minerals essential for your nail growth and overall health.

3. Keep it Natural

I know how much better nails look in gels, acrylics and stick ons; but what you may not know is how badly they damage your nail plate. I’m not saying don’t ever put them on. All I’m saying is don’t make a habit of it. Once in a while is not too bad. The best way to keep your nails healthy is by keeping them natural. Artificial nails contain chemicals and glue that could cause fungal infection on your nails. The methacrylic acid used during application of acrylic is corrosive and so if used in excess it can seep through the nail plate and cause damage to the nail bed.

Avoid polishing your nails through out. Leave them without polish for at least one full week in a month so as to avoid discoloration.

Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde. It’s better to use polish remover that contains acetate. While removing nail polish, use as little polish remover as possible and then wash your nails thoroughly with soap and water to remove all traces of both the polish and remover.

4. Keep your Nails Clean & Short

Long nails may have been fashionable in the 80’s and early 90’s but that has changed and short nails are now trendy. Some ladies however like their nails long and polished. Long nails are hard to keep clean as they conceal a lot of dirt beneath them and they are also prone to breakage. I’m an African woman and I find it totally ridiculous for an African woman to have long nails because we at one point of another have to do some household chores no matter how subtle. Very long nails inhibit your ability to put your hand into full use when carrying out tasks; be it household or otherwise. So keep your nails short and clean. It’s classy, professional & trendy.

5. Moisturize & Hydrate

Just like the skin needs lots of water to stay hydrated and moisturized, so do your nails. So it’s very important to take at least 1 liter of water a day but the recommended quantity is 2 liters or 8 glasses. Let’s face it; very few of us can manage the latter so the former option is better than taking no water at all.

To keep your nails moisturized, invest in a cuticle cream/softener such as lanolin and use it every time after using water to clean or do other chores. Also make sure you apply some lotion or hand cream before going to bed.