We hate to break it to you, but chances are pretty high that you’re wreaking serious havoc on your toenails and fingernails — without even knowing it. So give those little guys a serious apology and cut out the following nasty habits in order to keep your nails healthy, beautiful and strong.
Nasty Habit #1: Cutting or Playing With Your Cuticles
We know, we know: Telling you to stop playing with your cuticles is like telling an acne prone teen to stop popping pimples. But despite how hard the habit is to break, it’s really one worth trying to kick. Not only does cutting or picking at the cuticles make them look ragged and dry, as celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi points out, it also leaves your nails super susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. What’s more, recent research has shown that damage on the cuticle beds can lead to ridges developing on your nails.
Bad Habit #2: Wearing Polish For Weeks On End
We’re pretty sure there’s not a woman in the world that hasn’t fallen victim to this horrible habit, especially when it comes to polish on the toenails, which can last for several months. While it might seem like a harmless act, leaving nail polish on your fingernails and toenails for long periods of time can lead to keratin granulation, which is rough, white patches that form on the nail when ancient polish is removed and ends up taking superficial layers of the nail with it. Wearing polish for extended periods also dries our your nails, leaving them discolored, brittle and prone to breakage. Perhaps this is why your mom always said you need to take polish breaks so your nails can "breathe."
Horrible Habit #3: Keeping Your Nails Long
Nine Inch Nails works in the music world, but rocking long fingernails and toenails in your regular life is a big no-no. Super long nails are more likely to snag and break, and they’re also more prone to bacterial and fungal infections because dirt and debris is more likely to get stuck underneath the nails.
Nasty Habit # 4: Not Eating Right
Diet can go a long way for your abs, and it can also go a long way for your fingernails and toenails. Existing on unhealthy foods, coffee and cocktails leaves your nails dry, brittle and ridged. It’s better to choose healthy options high in iron, biotin (a type of vitamin B), calcium, magnesium and omega 3s. And be sure to drink plenty of water. Staying properly hydrated can do wonders for your hair, skin and nails.
Bad Habit #5: Getting Gel Manicures and Pedicures
Gel manicures and pedicures became a huge trend for a reason: The polish lasts (chip-free) for weeks. But the convenience comes at a price, and that is the health of your nails. Experts disagree about whether it’s the polish itself or the intense acetone removal process that dries out your nails and creates uneven, white patches. But regardless of which is doing the damage, there’s no arguing with the fact that a gel manicure or pedicure wipes out onychocytes (the top layer of your nails) — which leads to dryness, brittleness and breaking. The same goes for glitter polishes; it takes a lot of acetone polish remover and scrubbing to rid the nails of glitter polishes, which is intensely damaging for your nails and causes them to peel.
Horrible Habit #6: Choosing Hazardous Nail Lacquer
Not all nail polishes are created equal. Many on the market contain hazardous chemicals including formaldehyde, which is not only bad for your overall health, but also the health of your nails. The chemical strengthens the nail plate, which may not seem like a bad thing, but in fact is because it strengthens it too much — which decreases the flexibility of the nail and can cause brittleness and breakage. Luckily, several companies — including Sally Hansen, RGB and Choi’s brand, JinSoon — are offering polishes free of potentially dangerous chemicals, so give your polish collection a desperately needed makeover and switch to these healthier alternatives.
Nasty Habit # 7: Picking at Your Polish
It might be difficult to resist the temptation, but picking at the polish on your fingernails and toenails is one of the top things ruining your nails. When you peel off the paint, you’re also peeling off layers of your nail plate — which leaves your nails weak, dry and covered in patches. If you’re not strong enough to kick the habit, try carrying pre-moistened polish remover packets in your purse or wallet. The small polish removers are an easy go-to when your chipped polish is driving you nuts.