July 21, 2013

Growing your own beautiful, strong nails

After posting this photograph on Instagram I received a number of questions from ladies asking me how I get such 'nice' nails. I've never really thought about my nails very much until now. I mean, I always have them looking neat or painted in a pretty colour, but when it comes to achieving long, strong nails, well then I'm no expert. All I can do is tell you what I do, and then you can try it out and let me know if you get results.
First I have to tell you, although you may not believe me from looking at these photographs, but I used to be a biter. Not a dainty little nibble here and there nail biter, but a proper when-I-chew-all-thats-left-behind-are-stumps-flayed-cuticles kind of biter. So how did I get my nails to look like they do now? Whats my secret? Well, to be honest, I don't have one. Instead of spending a fortune on supplements and OPI nail treatments and manicures and the latest cuticle oil and hand creams, I started eating lots of yogurt. The chocolate chip kind. An increase in dairy for my little body, meant a huge increase in calcium, leading to stronger nails. I used to have a nasty habit of rubbing my nails over my teeth until they would become so weak, they would inevitable break and peel. Then I would just bite them as they looked so terrible anyway and so the vicious circle began. When my body started to respond to the huge injections of calcium two or three times a day, my nails started to grow, little by little. Even a little bit of nail looks better than stubby fingers. Slowly,  my nails were given a chance to strengthen and lengthen. No amount of funny tasting 'bite proof' nail polish could help, and no amount of bribery from my poor mom could get me to kick the nasty habit. It was the good old choc chip yogurt that finally did the trick.
So now thats the growing part done, how about the stregthening part...
Whenever I apply polish, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use a base coat on my nails. It doesn't matter the brand (although I have always loved Rimmels Stronger Double Duty base coat ~ click here). Even if its a clear nail polish colour if you don't have a specified base coat on hand, use it! Applying a base coat not only helps to lengthen the life of your nail colour, but its protects your nail bed from the chemicals inside all nail polish. This means you won't be left with yucky yellow stained nails too.

Then, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS apply a top coat. Not only does a top coat seal in your colour, but it prevents your nail polish from chipping. Your manicure will last longer, you wont be tempted to fiddle with pretty looking nails, and your nails will be protected everyday wear and tear we subject our hands to. 
Lastly, I keep a cuticle oil on my bedside table and rub it in whenever I remember to (I am quite fond of Sally Hansen Vitamin E & cuticle oil which you can pick up for R80 at Clicks & Dischem in South Africa). Keeping your cuticles soft and moisturized can help strengthen your nails.

Lastly, make sure you take care of your hands. Your nails are a lot more fragile than our hands, but get subjected to a lot of rough treatment everyday. Wear gloves when you wash the dishes, use a mild cleansing soap when you wash your hands, massage your cuticles when rubbing in hand cream, and drink plenty of water to keep your body healthy and hydrated.
I have tried hair, skin and nail supplements before, but to be perfectly honest really saw no results. You might have better luck, but they can be pretty pricey and if you aren't looking after the actual nail bed by wearing a base coat, using cuticle oil and wearing hand cream, you're probably undoing the internal benefits of them.
Anyway, I hope you find this helpful. Please know that I'm no expert, and am merely sharing my personal experiences with you. Do drop me a comment if you know any more tricks and secrets for growing beautiful string nails.