Do you have dry, cracked, splitting brittle fingernails during the winter months?
It’s not just your skin that dries out during the winter months; your nails do too! As soon as there’s even a hint of chill in the air, your nails start to chip and flake.
If you are experiencing slow nail growth, brittle nails, nail breakage, nail splitting, and other nail problems nowadays, winter is to blame here as well. People often take special care of their hair and skin during chilling weather, but forget to take care of their nails.
Nails are part of the integumentary system (skin) of your body and they develop from the outer layer of your skin called the epidermis. The exact same cells that form the outer layer of your skin also form your nails. These cells harden more in your nails, but structurally they share many common features and needs.
Natural oils hold together the different layers of your nails, so cold and dry winter months and lots of hand washing with harsh soaps will dry out this natural “glue.” It’s very similar to the dry skin you experience during the winter months.
The same concept to fix dry skin can be used for dry nails, but different formulations are recommended because of the unique structural properties of your nails.
Here, are easy winter nail care tricks to make sure your nails stay long and strong.
One easy to way counteract cold weather? With a nice warm pair of gloves
Protect your nails by wearing a nice warm pair of rubber gloves for your washing chores. This is when you are gardening, house cleaning, washing dishes, or using harsh chemicals.
When you wear gloves, you protect your nails from getting dry and at the same time, keep dirt out of your nails. Massage a cream, oils, or ointments to damp nails and the skin around the nails after washing chores
. Doing so can protect your nails from breakage and help locking in moisture to help preserve the cuticle seal and strengthen the nail itself.
For dry hands and nails, massage almond oil on the hands and around the nails too, in order to soften the cuticles. 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. This causes the skin to get stretched and torn. The skin can even become infected if this happens. Daily massage is even more important during the dry winter season.
For moisturizing your nail, take 1 tablespoon of almond and castor oil, and mix a little hand cream in it. Massage the mixture into your hands. Follow up with moisturizer and treat yourself to a weekly hand at-home treatment mask.
Never cut, push back, or try to get rid of cuticles altogether. In fact, the cuticle is the nail’s natural protective seal. Moisturizing the cuticles with cream or oil helps protect and strengthen your nails helping stimulate nail growth, and bringing blood and nutrients to maintain healthy nails.
Cuticle oils will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and hydrate the cuticle, skin, and nail area, and help in preventing breakage of the nails.
Once a week soak the nails in lukewarm water for a few minutes and afterwards apply the cream to the nails. Massage them, so that it helps to soften the skin and lock in the moisture by wearing cotton gloves for at least an hour. Then push the cuticles back gently using a cotton bud. Never use sharp instruments to clean under the nails.
For strong and healthy nails, include adequate protein and calcium in your diet. Take skimmed milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese (paneer), fish eggs and sprouts. Follow a ten-day programme of taking gelatin. Dissolve one teaspoon of gelatin in a little boiling water. Cool the water and add it to fruit juice. Have this daily for ten days.
A weekly manicure keeps nails in good condition. For a home manicure, first, remove old nail varnish. To cut nails, use a nail clipper. Then shape them with an emery board. File in one direction only. Soak the hands in lukewarm water for 5 minutes after adding a few drops of shampoo. Use a soft brush to clean your nails.
If you have nails which break easily, avoid frosted nail polish. If there is any infection or pain, avoid filing the nails and using nail polish. Get medical attention first. Fungal infection of the nails is quite common.
Sometimes, the nails acquire a yellowish tinge, due to wearing nail polish constantly. Sun exposure and some pastel colours can leave a yellowish tinge. For protection, use clear, transparent nail polish as a top coat. UV-resistant top coats are also available. To protect the nails apply a transparent base coat first and then apply the colour of your choice.
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. Then apply UV-resistant or clear polish for protection. The nails can also be “buffed” or rubbed with a piece of chamois leather.
(The author is a beauty expert)