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27 Feb

Why aftercare is so important for your nails

You might think that once you’ve had your gels, shellac or acrylics done in the salon, that they’ll stay looking as good as they do in that moment for the next two or three weeks until you remember to book the next appointment (or walk into your salon without an appointment if you’re that lucky). But the chances are you’ll be a lot more active with your hands in this time than you even realised. And next thing you know, you’ve got a chip or it’s peeling or worst-case scenario: it snaps!

That’s most likely because, unlike your skin care and hair care routine, you forget about nail care. The truth is if you don’t look after your nails, they’re not going to last longer than a week. This is also the case when you have bare nails. To keep your nails healthy and strong, it’s best to start taking care of them now – it’s never too late.

The best part about nail care is; it really isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Yes, you have to avoid a few things and take precautions but in the long run, it will all be worth it.

So, let’s start simple. The easiest ways to keep your nails in tip top condition is to wear gloves when washing up; shellac and acrylics are porous, meaning water can penetrate the outer shell causing swelling at different rates. This therefore means the nail and shellac or acrylic separate and causes the peeling or ‘falling off’ of your nails. Note: shellac and acrylic do not fall off on their own, using products that contain certain chemicals, soaking in water for a long length of time, and general knocking into objects will cause the nails to damage.

Solar oil: Top end salons will use CND solar oil that is made from a blend of almond and jojoba oil that hydrates and nourishes your nails. Using this AT LEAST once a day also strengthens your nails and helps elongate the life of shellac and acrylic, as is strengthens the coating and prevents brittle nails, that can lead to cracking and separating. Solar oil is perfect to use in all weathers, as it ensures your nails are getting enough hydration without the need to soak them in water and damage your shellac. (Nails that have not had any use of solar oil – look dry and patchy and are more likely to snap if they grow.)

It is always best to purchase from a reputable salon or beauty supplier to ensure proper branding. CND have also recently brought out the solar oil pen – perfect for storing in your handbag and oiling up on the go. You really can do it anywhere, anytime.

The harder part of nail care is when it comes to beauty products – and what to avoid. You want to avoid the use of any products with lanolin, mineral il, petroleum jelly, paraffin or a large amount of essential oils. The use of these on your nails again can cause the look of peeling or falling off in places, but can also cause a clean separation. The issue here is, many products go by different names in the beauty world, so if you are unsure what products to use, try to keep them away from your nails at all times, use your palms, cotton pads and gloves and always ensure to wash your hands immediately after use to remove any residue. If you still struggle to avoid your hands, purchase beauty spatulas (available at Amazon, eBay or Sally’s beauty) to scoop the product out and avoid your nails. You can also use makeup brushes for face creams and products as it keeps your nails as far away as they could possibly be.

Looking at ingredients, or using makeup brushes or spatulas to apply products may seem a little ‘extra’ or even unnecessary at first – but once you try it and realise how much good it does to avoid all but solar oil with your nails, you’ll never go back.

Staining is another issue when it comes to nail care. You don’t realise how many food and beauty products can cause damage to even ‘the look’ of your nails. Again, nail beds are porous, much like shellac and acrylic, and have the tendency to stain easily. So be careful when using fake tan or purple shampoo if you’re a blonde – particularly if you’ve gone for a pale colour this time around. Spices and grease on foods such as pizza or in curry can also stain, so be extra careful if cooking (it might be an excuse to get the other half to chip in once in a while, they can cook and clean because you miraculously lost the marigolds this morning). Most of the staining items are more obvious, as they’ve probably stained your clothes in the past, but one more thing to look out for with your nails is new pieces of clothing. For example, the dye in new jeans can transfer to your nails and leave a stain.

Now, obviously this isn’t to say avoid everything at all costs, because how would you get anything done in your life if you wanted nice nails? The idea behind this piece is to make you aware of what to avoid and how to protect your nails to increase longevity. For example, solar oiling is necessary to keep your nails hydrated and looking salon fresh for as long as possible. But if you do all the cooking in your house and like to apply fake tan, you don’t need to avoid it completely. Just be aware it can have an affect and to watch out for it. If you do end up with staining, just use a small bit of acetone on a cotton pad and lightly clean the area – lightly been the operative word there, as you don’t want to start removing any shellac (and obviously acetone would only work if it was shellac, gel or acrylics – avoid at all costs if you are just using traditional nail polish as it would remove the product completely.)

Obviously, if you are new to nail care; as you once would have been for hair and skin care, this may all seem alien and pointless at first. But once you try it and get in a routine of solar oiling at least once a day, not soaking your hands in water for an eternity and watching out for products coming into contact with your nails, you’ll start to notice a difference in how good your nails look (at all times) and how long your choice of nail product starts to last.

After all, nothing stays perfect if it isn’t looked after.

Sophie Cain

I am a 24-year-old journalism graduate from the University of Huddersfield, currently completing a business administration apprenticeship within the NHS. I currently write a monthly fashion article for a local lifestyle magazine, Excelle and have done for the last three years. I also currently manage the social media accounts for Ragdoll Nails and love to keep up with friends, brands and celebrities through social media. In my free time I do a lot of shopping, but I also love to read - true crime mainly - and have a slight obsession with gin and tonics.

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