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Nail Care Tips

Maintaining healthy natural nails is not as complicated as many may think. As with hair, nails are usually their healthiest in their natural state, requiring a bit of nail polish for protection and regular applications of hand cream as a moisturizer.

In fact, many argue that using natural nail strengtheners, which chemically crosslink the nail plate, is actually a bad idea. Although they do make nails more rigid, they also make them less flexible and thus more prone to breaking on impact. It is actually more important that nails are kept flexible and moisturized.

Frequent nail splitting can also indicate dehydration. In such cases drink more fluids and use an oil designed to penetrate the nail plate. Then follow up with a moisturizing cream.

Of course, just as goths are not likely to have their hair in its natural state, so too, do they demand a bit more out of their nails. Long nails and pointed nails are, by nature, weaker than "normally" shaped nails, and thus require special attention. In such cases, several coats of nail hardener will help minimize chipping and peeling of the nail enamel. The trick is to find something that protects AND moisturizes. Nail hardeners with nylon fibers are also very affective. (This will be discussed in the Product Top Picks area.)

By the way, regular use of nail polish can cause a yellowing discoloration of the nails. This is not considered damaging, but is useful to keep in mind if you prefer the "natural look" but use color occasionally.

Below are some useful nail care tips:

Never clip nails to shorten them. Use an emery board to file nails down to size.
Apply a top coat almost daily to help protect the tips.
Use nail polish remover as infrequently as possible - especially those containing acetone. Most nail polish removers will dry nails out. Many specialists suggest using nail polish remover no more than once a week.
Apply a hand cream or lotion after washing hands since soaps tend to cause nails and skin to become very dry. Cuticles should remain moisturized with Vaseline or a moisturizer such as Moisturel or Aquaphor. (Tip: Apply moisturizer before going to sleep each night.)
Never peel or scrape off nail polish or use metal instruments on the nail surface to push back the cuticles. This can scrape off the protective cells of the nail surface.
Break the habit of nail biting - it is very destructive to both the nail and the cuticle and can lead to infections that can actually deform the nail.
An excellent time to do your manicure is after a shower, bath or the dishes. These activities will remove dirt from under the nails as well as soften dry nails.
The cuticle protects the nail root from bacteria. Instead of cutting the cuticle, push it back gently with a rosewood stick or rubber-tipped cuticle-pusher. However, should the cuticle be hard and dry and sticking up, slightly trimming it is justifiable, but never remove the whole thing. Strong cuticle growth can be controlled with a cuticle softener or cuticle remover liquid.
Keep your nails out of your mouth! Biting nails can damage the nail and the cuticle leading to a deformed nail shape or uneven nail growth. You can also transfer harmful organisms to the nail that lead to infection or even increase one's chance of catching a cold or flu.

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