Friday, January 3, 2014

Healthier Nails for 2014: Tips & Products

Hi guys! I hope you all had a wonderful time with the holidays and the New Year's celebrations. Now that we're officially in 2014, it seems like a ton of "New Year, New You" posts are popping up everywhere. Have you made any New Year's resolutions?

I'm personally not a fan of the whole resolution thing. I used to make them, but never acted on them. So I learned not to make them in the first place. Haha. Don't get me wrong, I always have goals I want to accomplish regardless of whether it's a new year or not. In the end, I believe a resolution won't change anything, but a right mindset will. At least this has been true for me.

But if you're the type who likes the little kick in the pants New Year's resolutions can give you, here are few tips for healthier nails.

Oh hey, you get to see my bare nails! I don't think I've ever shown them on my blog, because they were always badly stained. So that's where the lemon comes in. To preface this, December 2013 was a bad, bad time for my hands and nails. Not only were they dry and flaky, but something odd had also happened to my hands.

My home uses pumped well water, which needs to be softened regularly as it can contain a lot of iron. I guess we had a few days of hard water, because one day I noticed that my hands were speckled black along my cuticles, under my nails, and anywhere with dry skin (which I had a lot of). As a result, it looked like I had a play-date in the dirt and didn't wash my hands.

After a lot of fretting and searching, I decided to give the old lemon trick a try. I actually did this before for my yellow stained nails, but didn't see an improvement. So I was doubtful, but guess what? It worked! On top of that, my nail tips are whiter than ever!

Here's what I did:

Depending on how much you need, squeeze 1/4-1/2 lemon into a medium-sized bowl. Don't discard the lemon peel - set it aside for now. Warm up about a cup of water (not boiling!) and add it to the bowl. Now soak your nails (and hands if needed) in the warm lemon water. Use the pulpy area of the lemon peel you set aside to scrub away any tough spots. For whiter nail tips, immerse the peel in the warm water and scratch into the pulp. It will get under your nails, but you'll see results. When you're done, just rinse away the pulp and lemon juice.

Ta-da! My hands and nails were better than new! When I did this before, I had just soaked my nails in the lemon water. This didn't yield any results for me, but scratching into the pulp works wonders!

Now that you have brighter, healthier colored nails, you'll need to keep up with your hand and cuticle care. This is the most important step, especially if you're experiencing colder weather. First off, Essie's Millionails Treatment. I've talked about this product twice already, but I'm mentioning it again because I swear by this stuff. If you have brittle nails that peel, this will act as a nice strengthening barrier. When I don't use this, my middle and pointer nails always peel. The peeling weakens my nails, making the corners curl and break off. But once I use this, I have no problems.

Nicole by OPI's new Oil To Go is now one of my favorite on-the-go cuticle oils. Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil is still my overall favorite, but this one's better for carrying around. It has a brush tip applicator, so I prefer it to the rollerball applicator on Julep's Essential Cuticle Oil. My only gripe is that it's very easy to over squeeze the product. Just a warning.

Last but not least, food. I'm a big believer in the Hippocrates quote above. If brittle nails are a regular problem for you, try eating your way towards stronger nails. For strong nails you should consume foods abundant in protein, healthy fats, iron, and zinc. Here are a few suggestions below.

Protein:  Nails are mostly made of protein, so it goes without saying that consuming more protein will help build them up. Lean meat and fish are excellent sources of protein. Fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also rich is omega-3 fatty acids - which brings me to my next point.

Fatty acids:  Omega-3 essential fats can give your nails with the fatty acids needed to prevent splitting. Besides fish, you can sprinkle some almonds and walnuts over your salad and yogurt. You can also make yourself a power smoothie using wheat germ and ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

Iron:  Iron deficiency can lead to weak nails. Eat iron-rich foods like red meat, turkey, egg yolk, spinach, whole grains, and fortified cereals. It's best to pair these with foods rich in vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, red and green chili peppers, and dark leafy greens (kale, mustard greens, garden cress).

Zinc:  Zinc is necessary for protein synthesis and tissue growth, so a deficiency in zinc can lead to poor nail growth. Good sources of zinc can be found in oysters, red meat, and poultry. Non-animal sources include pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toasted wheat germ, cashews, almonds, chick peas, and fortified cereals.

A lot of these fall into the categories listed above, but folate rich food like lentil, legumes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens can also help with dull nails.

Brittle nails can, however, can be genetic. If all else fails, you'll still end up with great skin, nails, and a healthy body from eating all these foods. :P

(Disclaimer: I am not trained in nutrition. The information presented here is based on personal experience and information available on the web. Please consult a registered dietitian for any concerns or questions specific to your needs.)

And finally, my nails for New Year's.

Healthy nails make for a better glitter gradient, don't you think? Usually I paint on a peachy base first to cover up my yellow nails. This time I was able to skip that step and put the glitter right over my bare nails.

Polishes used (from nail tip to cuticle): 
OPI Miss You-niverse / Wonderous Star / Ski Slope Sweetie / My Favorite Ornament

Alright, enough with this wordy post. I promise you there will be more pictures in my next post. :) Let me know if you have any tips for healthy nails not mentioned here. Also, if you made any resolutions for the new year, I want to know them! :D

♥ Liz

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