How Do I Keep Nail Polish From Destroying My Nails?

Here’s the sad truth about your beloved manicure: nail polish can make your nails totally suck
22 December, 2014

We recently asked readers to come up with questions they want answered in this column. One such request came from reader Dashiki, who says:

nail polish question

Good question! Anybody who’s as obsessed with nail polish as we are knows that the stuff you love to decorate your fingertips with can also be their downfall. Here’s the sad truth about your beloved manicure: nail polish can make your nails totally suck. Fortunately, there are steps you can take in order to prevent this from happening and, if it does occur, treat the damage so it disappears by your next big event.

If you want to get snazzy looking hands, follow these easy tips and tricks that will basically turn you into that guy from Zoolander.

zoolander hand

Sexayyyy! Anyway, here’s what you need to do for picture perfect nails.

1. Use base coat.

Seriously, apply base coat. It can be tempting to skip–particularly if you have a tendency to change your color a lot, or if you don’t remember to paint your nails ’til half an hour before running out the door–but it is so important to your nails’ health.

Think about it this way: would you apply foundation without putting a great primer on first? Possibly, but you also know that it will look worse, it won’t last as long, and your skin will not look nearly as flawless as it would have with that extra little step. Plus, in the case of base coat, it also protects your nails.

2. Let your nails rest.

To answer your question: yes, you do really need to let your nails “breathe”! According to Priti NYC expert Kim D’Amato, while nails “are made of layers of dead keratin, so they do not “breathe” so to speak, but they will weaken if they are constantly covered in polish.” Again, think about it like it’s your face’s skin; would you really want to go all day and night with makeup on seven days a week? Plus, if you always have nail polish on, you might wind up missing the signs of a fungal infection or other health issues.

3. Don’t use acetone.

Want to keep your nails looking gorgeous and fresh, even when they do not have polish on? Don’t use acetone! Guys, I get it–it works really, really well to remove nail polish. But that absolutely does not mean you should

4. Stay overall healthy.

Don’t smoke, don’t constantly drink to excess, go to the doctor if you think you may have a fungal infection, take vitamins, drink tons of water, eat healthily…all of these are easy, simple ways to keep your whole body feeling and looking great, including your nails.

5. Trim your nails.

As somebody who has a strong aversion to trimming her nails (I just love how they look super long so, so much more!), I understand that this can be a pain. However, having untrimmed nails on a regular basis can lead to snagging, roughness, and brittle tips. Before you paint your nails, give ‘em a quite trim, file, and buff to keep the shape smooth. And no, biting doesn’t count as cutting them, so stop that bad habit right this very second.

6. Stop chipping your nail polish.

Once that first chip appears, it can be so tempting to just poke, prod, and pick at the nail polish until it is all gone. According to celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, this can really damage your nails:

“A lot of people start picking when their polish starts chipping instead of removing it with nail polish remover. This habit can remove the actual top layer of your nail bed, which sets the stage for weakened nails.”


7. Use cuticle oil and hand cream

Use a solid cuticle oil and a rich hand cream to keep your fingernails looking and feeling soft, moisturized, and healthy. A solid tip I’ve learned from my boss: put travel sizes next to your computer at your desk. That way, you remember to apply it throughout the day!

by Samantha Escobar, The Gloss