10 Mistakes That Are Destroying Your Nails

With more polishes than you can count, we know that you're all about those good nail days. But are your nails really as strong and healthy as they could be? You don't want your nasty nails to ruin the outfit you took at least 30 minutes to pick out. Here are some tips that will not only get your nails looking fabulous, but will also get them healthy.

Biting your nails

On a scale of one to disgusting, biting your nails is pretty gross. If you think the worst thing about gnawing down is your short little stubs, you're wrong. The habit also promotes bacterial transfer from your nails to your mouth, which can make you super sick. It can even leave those little nubs vulnerable from the open sores, which can lead to nasty infections. Want to kick the habit? A great way to quit is by painting your nails. With your nails newly polished and pristine you'll be more hesitant to chomp on them and ruin your (or your manicurist's) hard work.

Removing polish with your fingers

Taking it upon yourself to peel off your polish? Stop. Just stop right now. Forcing your nail polish off is super damaging to your nails. You won't only be stripping off your nail polish, but also the top layer of your nail. Think of it like a face peel gone wrong. Since nobody likes weak, flimsy nails, try to always take your polish off with nail polish remover. Removing it on the go can be rough, so it's a good idea to carry around your favorite nail polish remover wipes. Many different brands make them and they're perfect for throwing in your purse.

Cutting your cuticles

No one wants crusty cuticles messing up their beautiful manicure. However, picking at them or cutting them is not the answer. You should put down that cuticle clipper, unless you want your nails looking like Lays Ridges. Instead of clipping those crazies, you can apply a cuticle oil. The oil will soften up your cuticles so that they're nice and pliable which will allow you to push them back. If you're still not happy you can try a cuticle remover. Combined with an orange stick, it will be nice and gentle and you'll get all those rough, nasty edges off!

Not eating healthy

Put down that pretzel stick and pick up a carrot stick. Your nails feed off your blood flow, so if everything is groovy inside of you, it will show on the outside. Anything you put inside your body will affect the way your nails, skin, and hair look. Drinking tons of soda (and alcohol) can ruin your previously beautiful nails. The suggested foods are leafy greens – the darker the better. Still not getting the results you want? Try some magnesium, calcium, or biotin supplements and wash them down with plenty of water.

Getting gels and acrylics

While we can't deny that the click-clack of gels or acrylics are super fun, they're pretty horrible for your nails. In order to make the acrylic and gel stick on your nails, the technician needs to buff them. Severe buffing can cause the nail to be extremely thin and very prone to breaking. As soon as you take those bad boys off goodbye pretty nails. Plus, in order to take the suckers off you need to soak your nails in acetone. So, unless you want your nails looking like wooden boards, lay off those trips to the salon.

Avoiding base coats

Are you wondering why your nails are the same color as the last polish you painted them? It's probably because you're not using a base coat. There are a ton of different base coats on the market that do anything from make your nails stronger to allow you to peel off your polish. Beyond nail polish, we don't mean to go all WebMD on you, but there are a ton of messages your nails could be telling you about your health by their color. If they're yellow, you should probably put the cigarette down. If they're black, you should probably see a doctor to rule out melanoma. Sorry to all the hypochondriacs, but pay attention to what your body is telling you!

Drowning your nails

If you want your polish to stay put, you should keep away from water, which will make them swell. We're not suggesting you just stop showering (gross). However, you can definitely don some rubber gloves when cleaning the dishes. They come in different cute patterns, if that makes them more enticing. In the words of dermatologist and nail expert Dr. Dana Stern, "Water is constantly being absorbed and then diffused back out by our nails. This [...] weakens nails because the delicate nail cells are in a constant state of contraction and expansion." If your nails are on the dry side, putting jojoba oil all over the cuticle and the nail is a great way to get moisture back in them. Certain brands make specific cuticle oils that come in tons of awesome fragrances. Oil takes longer to soak into the nail bed (three days according to BlissKiss), but it's much more hydrating than water. If you need a quick refresh between polish applications, leave it on for two hours then wipe your nails with some rubbing alcohol and you'll be manicure ready.

Using your nails for heavy lifting

Similar to avoiding washing dishes without rubber gloves, try to avoid using your nails to do anything heavy duty. Whether you're casually trying to open a soda or even just pulling up the zipper on your jeans, make sure that you are using your fingers and not your fingernails. Nails are easy to bend and snap, but if they do you won't be feeling as peppy as Elle Woods, so try to avoid using them to grab or separate objects.

Polishing with harmful chemicals

We don't mean to scare you, but the ingredients in bottles of nail polish can be pretty frightening. Formaldehyde (what they use to embalm dead people) can be found in a lot of them! Luckily, there are exceptions such as Zoya, Sally Hansen, and many others (see the full list here). These brands have taken the steps to remove those nasty chemicals from their polishes. Black Cat Nails has an extremely helpful article that explains exactly what 3/4/5 free means in the nail polish world and which chemicals you should be looking out for in your polishes.

Constant acetone use

With your arsenal of polish, we know it's tempting to want to pick a new color for every day of the week. As long as you're using one of the nail polishes mentioned above without those harsh ingredients, nail polish won't do anything to harm your nails. The problem is that the acetone you're using to remove the color each time will. Dr. Stern explains, "Nail polish remover is not your friend. It may help remove that chipped manicure, but the ingredients, strong solvents, especially Acetone, dry out your nails."

Be smart about your nail health

If you picked up one thing from this article about nail health, it should be that cuticle oil is amazing. And it should be in your purse. Otherwise, the rest of the tips are simple and easy ways that you can improve your nail health. Avoid harsh chemicals, check. Don't use your nails to pry anything open, check. Steer clear of acrylics, check. Eat healthy, check. By following these steps, you'll notice a drastic improvement in the look and feel of your nails in no time.