Some people seem not to do anything and have perfect nails, while others struggle to get their nails past their fingertips.
You may assume that long and strong natural nails are impossible to achieve, but I’m here today to help you see that this goal is within reach with the right tools and techniques.
When you hear the word nurture, you may first think of nutrition. While a healthy diet does contribute to your nails’ health, it is not the only way to improve it.
While the nail plate is technically “dead,” made up of keratin cells, it can still be healthy and beautiful with today’s tips.
And here’s the thing… Even if you want just to wear gel nail enhancements, soft gel nail overlays perform best over strong natural nails. So everything we talk about today will benefit you, even if you just want to wear gel nail overlays over your natural nails.
If we may, let’s first start with the “don’ts of nails.”
DON’T use your nails as tools.
Nails, whether natural or artificial, are jewels, not tools. This is a common saying among nail techs to their clients, and it’s something to learn from. You can go about your daily routine, but being mindful of how you use your nails will serve you in their growth and longevity. Don’t press buttons, type on a keyboard, or pick stickers off with the nails. Use your knuckles or a tool that will get the job done without compromising your manicure. Yes, your enhancement is strong, but it isn’t bulletproof. Whether it’s all-natural or extensions, you should treat your nails as the beautiful jewels they are.
DON’T clip your nails, simply file them.
Yes! Clipping your nails, in many cases, causes the layers of your nails to split, especially if when you go to clip your nails, you do so by clamping on the center of your natural nails!
DON’T over-file the surface of your nails.
Do not file or buff your nail plate as this will thin it and create potential breaks later. A thinned nail plate is a weak nail plate. While removing the shine with a buffer is okay, using too coarse a grit could buff away too many layers of the nail plate, which are the best layers for nail coatings to adhere to. We talked precisely about this in our last topic, “3 Ways To Ensure No Lifting At The Free Edge” Make sure to check out this upload to learn more on the topic of nothing having enough keratin for gel nails to last.
When it comes to nail growth, there is at least one thing we cannot control, our genetics.
Some of us are born with thick, strong nails, while others have paper-thin nails that tear easily. Those with natural C curves have a much easier time growing their nails than those of us with flat nail beds. This is because a C curve provides the perfect structure for strength, whereas a flatter nail bed is likelier to break when knocked or bumped. However, this isn’t a stop in your journey; it’s only the beginning since we must first identify what type of nails you have. Do they bend easily or have some resistance? In fact, all types of nails can benefit from a nail care routine.
LET’S SWITCH GEARS TO THE DO’S OF NURTURING YOUR NATURAL NAILS FOR GROWTH
DO shape the free edge of your nails regularly.
That’s right, did you know that self-conducted experiments have shown that by simply shaping the free edge of your nails correctly, you can promote nail growth! You’ve already learned that filing is better than clipping your nails when you are intentionally trying to grow your nails out. So does any file do it? No, you must use a soft emery board file and shape it in one direction. An emery board is the most gentle of files unless you can tolerate those glass ones, and to file for nail growth, you should file ever so gently in one direction letting the file do the work for you.
DO use cuticle oil regularly.
Use penetrating cuticle oil to moisturize your nails, and if you can warm it up just a tad, even better, as heat will allow your pores to open up and absorb the oil even better. This is the most effective way to nourish and replenish what your skin and nails crave deeply. Adding or increasing your use of cuticle oils creates the foundation of good nail health, improving gel adhesion, retention, and removal. This is because the oil acts as a plasticizer between layers of cells, increasing the flexibility of your nails. This raises the nails’ toughness, the marriage of strength and flexibility. When the nails are too hard, they become brittle and can flake at the free edge, another cry out for an oiling routine. Not all oils are created equal, however, so be sure to check the ingredients of your cuticle oil or create your own.
The following list of oils contains molecules that are small enough to penetrate the nail plate, so it is important that whichever you choose contain one or more of these:
- Sweet almond
You can experiment with other oils and see what works best for you.
Allow me to go off on a tangent about cuticle oil- pretty, please?? 🙏.
How can you tell if nail oil is penetrating? One way is to rub the oil on your skin, and if it doesn’t easily penetrate the skin, it’s not likely to penetrate the nails. Oils can’t add any moisture to nails because moisture means water content, but they can prevent ‘dryness,’ which causes some confusion. Oils can increase the moisture content of nails, but they do this differently. Oils coat the nail plate, in effect creating a moisture-trapping barrier. Think of “slugging” in the skincare realm. This barrier prevents moisture loss, aka water loss, from the nail bed and nail plate.
Don’t mind if I geek out further? Then continue reading on…
Were you ever curious about those nail polish products that claim to make your nails stronger? Those with fragile and flexible nails will benefit the most from these.
Just like checking the ingredients in skincare products, you can check for these three ingredients in nail hardeners, backed by studies to prove they work. Save yourself time and money by looking out for; hexanal, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and formalin. Hexanal and formalin are true hardeners, changing the structure of nail keratin, while hydrolyzed wheat protein is a strengthener, binding the first few layers of your nail plate together. It’s important to continue using cuticle oil at this time because overuse of these treatments can make the nails brittle, wherein the nail plate becomes too hard. Oil will help keep your nails flexible while they harden, creating toughness.
Okay, let’s get back on topic…
DO overlay your nails with nail gel.
Finally, we have overlays. An overlay is a nail enhancement, such as hard gel, acrylic, poly gel, or, my favorite, Japanese soft gel, that is applied to the natural nail without adding length. This method is almost a foolproof way of growing your natural nails, whether they are very thin and fragile or naturally strong already. However, having that extra layer protects it from the daily wear and tear we all put our hands through, no matter how gentle we are. The best type of overlay is one that is both strong and flexible since it will suit most types of nails, and it has the magic formula that creates toughness.
Here’s an analogy I think will hit home on nurturing your natural nails for growth…
Would you skip conditioner after shampooing and still expect soft hair? Of course, you wouldn’t, so why should we expect perfect nails if we don’t also do the extra steps that are required other than washing our hands? While not every method works for everyone, with a little experimenting and patience, these tips will help you achieve the nails of your dreams.
And here are two beauty bonus tips I cannot pass up on sharing with you:
BEAUTY BONUS TIP #1:
Next time you do your facial skin routine, spread the same product onto your hands and nails. If it’s maintaining and improving the skin on your face, imagine what it could do for your hands.
BEAUTY BONUS TIP #2:
Be sure to also mind the hour after bathing since the natural nail plate absorbs moisture and swells, becoming more vulnerable in the process.
Thanks for reading this far. Comment below your biggest takeaways!
Content written by Paola and Marta.
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