It wasn't that long ago that the terms half-moon, empty moon and V-gap meant little to any of us. Now, any nail aficionado knows the precise definition -- and which designer paired what nail colours together. Before you get a stylish manicure, though, you'll want to make sure your nails are in good shape. Here are some essential tips for tending to your talons.
A diet rich in essential fatty acids will help prevent brittle, dry nails. You can find essential fatty acids in foods such as salmon and other fatty fish, as well as flax seed and flax seed oil. Consider substituting flax seed oil in your salad dressing, or add extra crunch to your yogurt or cereal by sprinkling flax seed overtop. If, however, you've noticed white spots on your nails, this may be a sign you need more zinc in your diet. Aim to eat more meat -- chicken, beef and pork -- as these all contain zinc, along with seafood, eggs, cheese and nuts.
Keeping your cuticles well moisturized is one of the best ways to grow strong, healthy nails. Plus, by keeping them well hydrated, you're less likely to get cracked, parched cuticles, which can be risky as bacteria may enter and cause an infection. Apply a small drop of an oil (ones containing jojoba and vitamin E work well) to each cuticle and rub in at bedtime. Maintained this way, your cuticles will be soft and easier to push back, for a clean, healthy nail. Plus, you'll be less prone to tears and hangnails.
Use a fine-grain emery board to file your nails to keep them looking well-groomed. Avoid filing back and forth across the nail as this will cause splitting. The most modern look is a "squoval" (square oval) shape at a modest length; experiment with longer nails in a more oval shape if you plan on some decorative nail art.
Your nails can only be clean and healthy if you're using clean tools. Visit nail bars with a trusted reputation and strict standards when it comes to sterilizing the tools. At home, even if you're the only one using the nail clippers and tools, make a note in your calendar to clean them regularly (some soapy water followed by a quick swipe of rubbing alcohol will do the trick).
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