Whether we see our nails as fun or functional, we want them strong. Since nails dry out easily, protecting them means keeping them well moisturized, says Phoebe Rich, MD, a dermatology professor at Oregon Health & Science University. These top tips will get your nails ready for any task at hand:
1. Keep moisturizer at-and on-your fingertips. Put a lubricating lotion by every sink, beside your bed, at your desk, and even in your purse.
2. Soak before clipping. Dry nails are more likely to crack and split when clipped, so trim with nail scissors after a bath or 15-minute hand soak.
3. Choose the right file Avoid metal files, which can split nails; emery boards are better, but the gentlest ones are padded files in a fine grit.
4. Go for size, not shape. Oval or square tips can be equally strong—just remember to file in one direction; keep them at about ¼ inch.
5. Wear polish or a clear topcoat to help nails retain moisture.Be sure to avoid anything with formaldehyde (it could cause nail separation or, in some cases, allergic reactions) or toluene, which can be drying. Clinique, Barielle, Almay, and Revlon all sell polishes free of both ingredients.
6. Touch up more, remove less. Don’t remove polish more than once a week. Acetone-free removers are kinder to your nails but still contain acetate, which can also be harsh and drying.
7. Learn to love gloves. To prevent moisture loss, wear them when it’s cold, when doing dishes, and at bedtime (apply lotion first for an over-night treatment).