It’s a sad day when a newly manicured nail gets chipped. But it’s practically heartbreaking when, one by one, all of your nails break, leaving ugly little stumps where gloriously glossy, gorgeously squared tips used to exist. Thanks a lot, Winter.
‘Tis the season for chapped lips, dry skin and—you guessed it—brittle, cracked nails. Your cuticles probably aren’t lookin’ so hot, either. But you don’t have to resort to wearing those fuzzy mittens indoors to cover up the damage. Follow these simple steps to keep your nails strong and healthy until warmer weather arrives:
Step 1: Soften Up
Keeping skin well moisturized is a must for deterring winter dryness—this much you already know. But nails are vulnerable to moisture loss, too. Get yourself an intensely hydrating hand lotion, such as Olive Oil and Aloe Ultra Moisturizer from Kiss My Face, and slather it on often (like clockwork after washing your hands), massaging over your nails and into your cuticles.
Step 2: Coddle Your Cuticles
Ragged, rough cuticles not only look unattractive, they can actually hurt. Nail health depends on cuticle health, because these thin layers of skin actually work to shield and protect nails as they grow, blocking bacteria and other bad things from invading the nail bed. Give them some TLC with a nightly rubdown using Organix TheraNeem Nail & Cuticle Oil, made from potent natural oils including neem, sesame and castor seed, plus vitamin E. Leave it on overnight to soothe and condition cuticles and fortify nails.
Step 3: Shorten and Shield
No matter what the weather, long nails are more likely to snag, crack and break than short ones. Keep them trim and even with Earth Therapeutics Smooth & Shape Emery Boards. Then apply a coat of protective polish such as Sally Hansen VitaSurge Strength Gel. This quick-drying treatment is designed for weak nails that split and peel, delivering vitamins C and E for noticeable strength in as little as five days.
Step 4: Avoid Aggressors
Who’s out to get your nails? That sinkful of dirty dishes! The steamy shower that tempts you to stay another minute (or five). Those easy-to-use, acetone-laced nail polish remover pads. All are No-Nos for effective winter nail care. While you probably can’t get away with using paper plates from November to April, you can wear gloves to keep your nails safe from hot water and harsh dish detergent. Stick with acetone-free polish removers (Honeybee Gardens makes an amazing horsetail extract-enriched one). And, for the sake of both your skin and nails: please, stay away from hot water in winter!
Step 5: Take It Inside
You wouldn’t go all winter without vitamin C to support your immune system (at least I hope you wouldn’t!). So why leave your nails hanging without cold-weather nutritional backup? Make room on your supplement shelf for a bottle of everyone’s favorite B vitamin: biotin. Although its main job is to help your body make energy, biotin may also help strengthen brittle nails. Take it alone, or with other nourishing nutrients in a handy hair, skin and nails formula.
The Beauty Boss is written by our staff editors Rebecca Chopin and Katie Kaleita, who work closely with the Vitacost.com beauty department experts to bring you the most relevant, up-to-date information on natural beauty and antiaging tips and trends. Have a beauty question or want to suggest a product for Vitacost.com to carry? Email email@example.com.