The Way to Perfect Nails

The Way to Perfect Nails

There’s nothing quite like a full set of beautifully-manicured nails when it comes to looking (and feeling) 100 per cent groomed, but even the most professional of jobs won’t hide issues such as cracks, tears and splits. The way to do that is to solve any nail issues first.

White Half Moons

This is the only visible part of the matrix, the official name for the nail root. They are most prominent on the thumbnail and tend to reduce in size towards the little finger, where they are usually not visible. If yours is particularly light or white in colour, this usually shows incomplete keratinization, the process by which the nail cells harden to form a nail plate.

Solution

The health and vitality of the matrix cells determine the quality and general condition of the nails. Eat a diet rich in amino acids, especially cysteine which is vital in keratin formation. It is found in garlic, onion and green beans. Improve blood flow, the nail growth irrigation system – address any circulatory problems, sometimes wearing a ring on that finger can affect the circulation and hence the nail.

Horizontal Ridges

If you suffer from surface irregularities on your nail bed, this can be linked back to a variety of factors including diet, certain dermatological disorders or even an illness. Diet plays such an important factor with healthy nail growth, that it is the most common cause of these irregularities. Ridges often indicate a lack of the mineral sulphur in your diet. The mineral sulphur is readily available in protein rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and milk. If you are a vegan, you can get your mineral sulphur intake through garlic, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, turnips, nuts, kale, lettuce, kelp and raspberries.

Solution

It’s important to regularly (yet gently) buff your nails to smooth the surface and then apply a specific ridge filler product to instantly smooth and give a satiny surface to the nail. Incorporate more sulphur in your diet with foods such as cabbage, cucumbers and onion.

Splitting/flaking Nails

This is usually a sign of trauma to the nail caused by external factors like persistent immersion in water or detergents. This nail disorder can also be linked to fatigue and illnesses (like metabolic problems, anaemia or endocrine disorders). Even taking certain medicines can cause nail trauma.

This also can be a sign of dry nails that are not correctly nourished. Again, this nail condition links back to dietary deficiencies plus could be a sign you are getting older, as nail health deteriorates with age.

Solution

If your condition is extreme, consult your doctor. Otherwise, take great care in looking after your nails. Use gentle manicure products like a supple cardboard emery board over a stiff metal file, which would be too harsh and abrasive. Avoid micro-traumas like bad treatment of nails, repeated tapping etc. Wear gloves at all times when hands are in water and around detergents. Eat more calcium and get more vitamin A in your diet, found in foods like apricots, butter and fresh green vegetables. It’s important to supplement this with a nail strengthening product applied topically that can penetrate deep within the nail plates and ‘feed’ the nail.

Hang Nails

People with hang nails generally see hard, dry skin on the nail contour as a result of the cuticle drying out, hardening and splintering. This is usually a sign of a poor hydration to the cuticle, a bad manicure and possibly also being a nail biter.

Solution

Regular gentle manicures or care programme at home using a daily cuticle treatment oil rich in vitamins E and F that will soften the skin and loosen overgrown cuticles. Also take care to remove the excess skin gently with appropriate cuticle removing products and tools. If you are a nail biter, get on top of this bad habit with a topically applied nail biting deterrent.

Soft Nails

The most common causes of soft nails are prolonged exposure to certain substances (detergents or solvents) without wearing gloves and nutritional deficiencies. Soft nails can also be caused by taking certain medication and even by an unhealthy lifestyle including lack of sleep, exercise and a poor diet.

Solution

Nails can be treated with a manicure but great care should be taken, especially in the matrix (or root) area. Your nails need extra protection, like a nail hardener that goes beyond the nail surface and penetrates deep into the nail plates and ensuring your diet is rich in vegetables, prunes, whole cereals and garlic.

White Spots

This condition affects the nail plate and is caused by small air bubbles being trapped between nail cells. If you suffer, chances are it could be hereditary but can also be caused by other factors such as bad nutrition, poor keratinization or trauma from an over-zealous manicure!

Solution

Go gentle on your nails and improve your diet with foods that promote healthy nail growth like carrots, green vegetables, eggs and fish. White spots can easily be camouflaged under a nail polish, and if you wear nail polish all the time, make sure you choose one that lets your nail breathe and is free from toxic ingredients like parabens, camphor and nickel to name a few.

Brittle Nails

Do your nails lack sheen, elasticity and resistance to impact? This can be a sign of a poor diet, as dietary deficiencies not only prevent nails from growing normally but can also cause weakness and brittleness. Vitamins A,B,C,D and E are the most important for healthy nails. Minerals like calcium, iodine, iron and magnesium are also essential.

Solution

Eat well and minimise nail contact with harsh substances. Apply a nutritive nail cream to preserve the visible, outer nail plate by nourishing with a treatment to counteract dryness and restore elasticity to the nail plate.

Learn how to professionally care for nails with our online manicure and pedicure course.