By the Book: Nail It

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Nail It: Taking the time to nourish and protect your nails so they look as pretty and healthy as your hands.  

Your nails, which are made up of keratin, are an extension of your skin. With age, your nails naturally become drier, more brittle and fragile, oftentimes even peeling at the ends.

Although this is a normal part of aging, you can “nail” these common problems by keeping your hands and nails moisturized and hydrated. Remember that every time you wash your hands or remove nail polish, you are disrupting the protective barrier and dehydrating your skin and nails. Your best defense is to apply a heavy moisturizer to your nails throughout the day, paying particular attention to your cuticles.

In general, a healthy cuticle is a healthy nail—it’s the seal that protects the nail from irritating or infectious agents. Unfortunately, you and your manicurist may get carried away and attack a cuticle like it’s a big weed. This can break the seal, causing damage and infection. So ask your manicurist to either skip or go easy on that part of the treatment to ensure the long-term health of your nails.

While we’re on the subject of manicures, although we’re fans of the popular gel manicures because they last for two weeks, there is a downside. If you don’t protect your hands from the UV light used to cure the gel, your nails will shine now, but your hands may well pay the price with spots later on. So make sure to coat your hands with sunscreen before your digits go under the lamp.

Keep in mind that too many manicures and nonstop polish not only stain nails over time, they can also thin nails and damage cuticles, reducing your nails’ most critical role: providing protection against infection. Every month or so, aim to go “au natural” and skip the manicure, moisturize your fingers and give your nails some room to breathe.

By “nailing” this advice, you’ll not only achieve healthy-looking nails that will make you feel great, but you’ll be communicating a lot to others about your health and habits.

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