Care for your Nails

Shahnaz Husain

By Shahnaz Husain                                                                                                   The only way to protect the nails and keep them looking good is to give them regular care. Your nails can reflect neglect and the state of your internal health. A pinkish colour indicates good health, while a bluish tinge shows poor blood circulation. A healthy nail is smooth and free from ridges and grooves. Protection is so important. Wear rubber gloves for your washing chores.

The cuticle (skin surrounding the nail) should be kept soft and smooth. Otherwise, it sticks to the nail and gets dragged as the nail grows. Never cut the cuticle. After soaking the nails in warm water, apply cream on the nails to soften the skin. Then push cuticles back gently using a cotton bud. Never use sharp instruments to clean under the nails. Use a cotton bud instead. Massage cream or oil on the hands nails and cuticle daily, especially after using detergents and soaps. Daily massage is even more important during the dry season. Dip the finger tips and nails in warm almond oil daily for about ten minutes and then massage the oil on and around the nails.

The sun can affect the nails too! Some pastel colours, specially beige and pink, can become yellowish after being exposed to the sun. The nail too can acquire a yellowish tinge. The most common cause of yellow nails is wearing nail polish constantly. The nails should be left unpolished sometimes.

For sun protection, use a clear, transparent nail polish as a top coat. You can apply sunscreen on the nails too, just like you apply it on the hands and arms, for protection from UV rays. UV resistant top coats are also available.

To protect the nails from the discolouring effect of nail polish, apply a transparent base coat first and then apply the colour of your choice. Thus, the nail is protected.

To get rid of the yellowish tint on the nails, scrape the surface of the nail with the finest-grain side of an emery board, so that the nail is not damaged and then use the UV-resistant or clear polish for protection. It will also add shine to dull nails.

The nails can also be “buffed.” This is usually done with a piece of chamois leather. It should be gently rubbed with the chamois leather. It helps to remove discolouration and adds shine to the nails.

To know the best nail shape for you, just check the shape of your cuticles. It shows the nail shape that you should follow – whether oval, round, square, or almond. The oval shape is formed by filing the sides. If you have short fingers, the oval nail shape will give your fingers a longer appearance. Many women like to go for the almond shape, as it adds a feminine touch.

If you have brittle nails that chip easily, include adequate protein and calcium in your diet. Take skimmed milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, fish and sprouts. For brittle nails, also follow a ten-day programme of taking gelatine. Dissolve one teaspoon gelatine in a little boiling water. Cool the water and add it to fruit juice. Have this daily for ten days.