Perhaps you’re determined to stop biting your nails or peeling off your gel polish (it’s a hard habit to break, I get it). Or maybe just want to maintain your nail health (yes, please!) Whatever the case, you’ll want to follow these 11 things you need to stop doing to your nails now to keep them in tip-top shape.
1. Stop … peeling off your gel mani. “The no. 1 thing we tell people not to do is peel off their gel manicure,”. “Because, as you peel the gel off, you end up peeling away super-thin layers of your nail along with the formula, which can cause divots that linger for months. Doing this can even cause your nail to peel after the fact, which will cause your polish to chip faster; plus, it just won’t look pretty.” Instead, Poole recommends soaking your nails in a bowl of acetone-based polish to loosen the gel from your nail bed. “Put a ton of cuticle oil on and around your nails first (to help hydrate them and the skin surrounding it), and soak your tips in the remover for 10 minutes,” she explains. Then, gently remove it using light pressure and the flat, slanted tip of an orange stick (a long wooden cuticle pusher) that you can pick up at any beauty supply shop or drugstore.
2. Stop … cutting your cuticles. If you have a hangnail on the side of your nail bed, it can sometimes be painful if you don’t get rid of it. However, if hangnails aren’t trimmed away properly, you can actually cause more to crop up. It’s better to never cut your cuticles and instead, apply a cuticle-removing formula over the perimeter of your nail bed, and then push your cuticle back using the flat tip of an orange stick or cuticle pusher. Then, gently remove the freed-up dead skin with a tissue or the softest side of a buffing block to reveal a hangnail-free, clean-looking nail bed.
3. Stop … using your other nails as chisels to chip off your nail polish.Anytime you purposely chip the paint off of your nails (whether it’s a nervous habit or you’re just finally over that burgundy lacquer), you chip away microscopic layers from your nail bed. This is bad for two reasons: (1) it gives your nail a rough texture even if you can’t see it with your naked eye, and you can cause trauma to, and even chip or break the tip of the nail that you’re using as the chisel. So, to keep from hacking away at your nail polish, keep individually wrapped nail polish remover pads in your purse or pick up a nail polish removing formula that takes off lacquer in seconds.
4. Stop … putting nail polish remover in your lacquer to thin it out. This tip is an old wives’ tale from way back when. Adding remover to any polish actually actually makes the paint chip faster and the pigment become foggy, because nail polish remover isn’t one of the ingredients in nail polish. So it just ends up making the paint look less vibrant versus turning your gummy polish smooth. If extending the life of your polish is your ultimate goal, get nail polish thinner and add a few drops to your favorite shade to make thick polish swipe on evenly again. If you add too much thinner too often though, the longevity of your polish might not be as lengthy as if you didn’t use it. It won’t mess up the quality though
5. Stop … sawing your nails back and forth when you file them. Sawing your nails back and forth is like cutting your hair with a dull pair of scissors. When you aggressively saw your nails with a file, it makes the tip frayed versus a clean edge. You also have less control over the shape you’re trying to create — oval, square, round, etc. — since your nail shaves down quicker when you file it too fast. This is exactly what you want to avoid — especially because all of the above is a gateway for peeling and premature breakage, since the harsh trauma of filing causes weakness.
What’s the right way to file your nails? You get the smoothest, fray-free finish when you file from the side of your nail to the center in one direction, lifting the file away from the nail, and returning to the starting point where your skin and nail connect. By using this technique, you get less of a ragged tip — plus, the fluid filing movement is less traumatic to your nail bed. If you’ve already frayed your free edge (aka the tip of your nail), we suggest trimming them ever so slightly, and then reshaping them using the fluid motion filing technique. Finally, massage some nail oil over your tips to help hydrate them. Try using a washable glass file that won’t be too harsh on your tips.
6. Stop … biting your nails. Biting your nails can be compared to filing them improperly. Not only does gnawing on them make their edges frayed, soaking them in a liquid aka your saliva makes them super weak. Plus, the whole experience isn’t sanitary, especially because debris, dirt, and bacteria is lodged up under your nail and is possibly going into your mouth. Eek! Have a habit you can’t quit? Poole suggests getting one coat of clear gel on your nails because “it’s too thick to bite through.” Or, you can paint on a gross-tasting formula to deter you from putting your fingers in your mouth.
7. Stop … painting over oily nails. Sure, you want your nails and the skin surrounding your tips to be hydrated and hangnail-free, but applying polish over oily nail beds isn’t going to leave you with a longest-lasting manicure. You want to start with the driest nails possible. After you’ve done all of the steps — gently filed your nails, safely removed your cuticles, and moisturized your hands with oil or lotion — wipe only your nail beds down with a nail polish remover wipe (or dip a cotton swab into some remover and clear away any oil that way). Then, start with your base coat, add polish, and finish with top coat.
8. Stop … shaking your polish to mix it up. When your polish sits for too long without being used, it settles and the ingredients separate. To properly mix the polish together again, roll the bottle between your hands rather than shaking it, since the latter creates air bubbles in the formula that can also show up as tiny bubbles on your nails when you paint them.
9. Stop … using cotton balls to remove your polish. The reasoning behind this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always been a habit of mine to use a cotton ball, so I think it’s important to note: cotton balls = fuzzies left on your nail aka your manicure will be ruined. Whereas, paper towels don’t leave behind fuzz.
10. Stop … painting on thick layers of polish. Coating on a lot of layers means you’ll literally be watching paint dry (on your fingertips) for the next who knows how many hours, because they’ll take longer to fully harden. Plus, too many layers mean your application could end up looking bubbly or uneven rather than smooth. To make sure your mani comes out looking profesh, stick to two coats and allow proper drying time in between each one. If you wait for the paint to dry in between coats, it allows all of the air to escape the formula and really seals the lacquer on your nail before applying the next coat. Start with your pinky finger on your left hand and work toward the opposite pinky finger; when you land at your right hand’s pinky nail, it’s safe to begin the second coat on your left hand.