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21 tips and tricks for getting and keeping beautiful, healthy, and strong nails

Here are twenty helpful tips and tricks for getting and keeping beautiful, healthy, and strong nails.

  1. A few strokes are all you need. Allow that to dry and then apply a second coat. Typically, a coat is considered to be three strokes—one down the center, and one on each side.
  2. For a quick cleanup, dip a Q-tip or even an old nail brush into nail polish remover after you have finished painting your nails. It’s much easier to clean up afterward when you are doing your own nails than to try and work with painstaking precision on each nail.
  3. Use a bottom coat or a primer before you apply polish, especially if you’ve selected a darker color. This takes a bit more time, but it will make your polish last longer by giving it a base to adhere to, and it prevents the nail color from staining your natural nails underneath.
  4. Be sure to read the labels on the bottles! Just because a nail polish appears to be bright pink in the bottle doesn’t mean it will come out that exact color on your nails. Some polishes are sheer, some are matte, others are shiny, some full of glitter. All these factors will impact the saturation of color that produces the final result.
  5. There are some top brands in the nail polish world, and they’re top brands for a good reason. Ingredients in a polish can do a number on your nails and may even dry them out badly or destroy them when your intention is to do just the opposite. In particular, it’s a good idea to stay away from “quick-dry” formulas.
  6. If you are concerned about the environment or the practice of testing cosmetic products on animals, some brands are environmentally friendly and make polishes that are vegan and are not tested on animals.
  7. Swipe the top of your nail with alcohol or a bit of nail polish remover on a cotton ball or pad before you start your nail polish routine to remove any unwanted residue or moisturizer that might linger on your hands. This will give you a clean slate to start with and prevent your pretty polish job from peeling off the next day.
  8. Use a good nail polish remover, one that is acetone free. It will be non-drying, which is particularly important if you are trying to strengthen your nails and keep them healthy.
  9. High-shine polishes and glitter polishes tend to last longer on your nails.
  10. Use a top coat! This is very important if you use your fingertips a lot. It’s helpful to apply the top coat right over the tips, even going a bit under the nail. If you work at a keyboard all day, you’ll definitely appreciate this!
  11. Be careful with your nail file! Don’t apply a lot of pressure. Rub your nail against the file instead of using the file to rub your nail. If you file your nails the wrong way, you can make them more prone to break, split, or peel.
  12. After you’ve opened a nail polish for the first time, you introduce air and then your own bacteria into it, and the polish will begin a process of decomposing. This often means that the polish will thicken and become a clumpy mess. If this happens, use a few drops of thinner or nail polish remover to prolong the life of the polish and use it a bit longer.
  13. If you store your nail polish in the refrigerator, it will last longer. It will also feel good when you apply it.
  14. If you have a sheer polish and want to make the color stand out more, apply an opaque polish in a deep nude or white polish underneath it.
  15. Use the warm air from a hair dryer on the lowest setting to dry your polish coats a little faster; or invest in a nail dryer or a specialty UV or LED light for setting professional gel polish.
  16. Nail art can be fun, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Painting one nail on each hand a different color, adding a bit of glitter, or applying a complimentary color to the tips is a quick and easy way to add interest to your nails.
  17. Use a cuticle oil. And here’s one more insider pro tip: I not only use Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair as a serum on my face at night, but I use it a few times a week in the evening as a cuticle oil. It helps to strengthen and protect my nails against damage and adds an extra layer of defense against dry, brittle nails.
  18. It’s better to push your cuticles back than to cut them. When you cut them, they may flake when they grow back, and a careless snip could cause an infection.
  19. Wear gloves when you do the dishes or when you put your hands in water (especially hot water) for any length of time. Water can impact the longevity of your polish as well as the condition of your nails.
  20. Protect your hands and nails by wearing gloves in cold, dry weather!
  21. One of the best actions you can take if you are trying to grow your nails is to review your diet. Biotin, a B vitamin, can help keep your nails from splitting and increase the thickness. Eggs, almonds, spinach, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes are all rich in biotin. Keep your nails at a similar length on each finger and from hand to hand. It causes a slight eyesore if you have one long nail or one that’s super short.
  22. Keep your nail lengths consistent and remember: the roots of beauty come from the symmetry.
  23. Toenails grow slower than fingernails but can harbor more bacteria. Feet are an area that we tend to neglect more than others when we wash, so be conscious of this! Pay attention to your toes every time you paint your fingers, even if the polish on your toes lasts longer.

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