Splitting, brittle and weak fingernails are a common — but repairable — plague.
“I have this split down my pointer finger nail and I can’t get rid of it,” said Rachel Durmingham, of Boulder. “I just paint over it because it constantly glares at me.”
Dry weather, dehydration, cheap nail polish and hand washing all play a role in unhealthy nails.
The No. 1 tip from Kristin Domenico, a cosmetologist at Ten 20 on Pearl Street, is for the body to remain hydrated.
— Take a daily multivitamin
— Most nail polishes expire after about a year
— When painting the nails with a darker coat, use a base color first to keep the nails from yellowing
— Use a non-acetone nail polish remover, as acetone is stronger and drying
— If the nails are yellow from polish, submerge them in a denture cream (like Efferdent) for a minute to remove the discoloration
“Drinking a lot of water always helps,” Domenico said. “Then, keep a good natural nail strengthener around. It’s always good to keep two or three layers on your nails at all times.”
Domenico recommended OPI nail strengthener or Sally Hansen as a good budget buy. Nail strengtheners can help fortify soft or weak nails that are prone to cracking, splitting or breaking.
Sharon McTighe, an esthetician and nail technician at Marianna’s L’Esthetique Medi Spa in Boulder, recommended applying cuticle oil to help nourish the nails.
“The nail originates down at the base, called the matrix,” McTighe said. “If you keep that well-lubricated, as the nail grows out, it helps it to be healthy.”
McTighe also said lathering with hand cream after every handwashing can help.
Both experts advised wearing rubber gloves when submerging hands in water for more than a minute or two.
Although nail polish can dry out the nails, the experts said the formaldehyde and toluene-free polishes provide a healthier option.
Formaldehyde and toluene are known as quick-drying agents in the polish, but Domenico and McTighe said the nails are better off without the toxins.
Both experts recommend a monthly manicure as beneficial to nail health.
“Manicures not only clip away the dead skin and push back the cuticles,” Domenico said. “But if we do see a split down deep in the nail bed, we can try to buff it and repair it.”
Monthly manicures can even help with keeping an eye on pre-cancerous moles that lie underneath the nail, Domenico said.
“You can develop little tiny moles — even sometimes the size of the tip of the pin,” Domenico said. “Once we see you regularly, we can monitor it and let you know if you need to go to the dermatologist.”
McTighe said it is important to keep an eye on the toenails, too, especially in the winter.
She said feet remaining inside a hot pair of boots all winter could turn into fungus that is often hard to see.
“I know a lot of people skip pedicures in the winter, but it’s important to continue the habit for the health of the toes,” McTighe said.