We all know that beautiful, strong, well-groomed nails are the finishing touch for a chic look. And they're no problem if you were born with perfect tips.
But for most of us, pesky nail problems make the perfect manicure just out of reach. To help you fix your biggest nail woes and be on your way to gorgeous hands, check out our solutions.
The problem: Your nails break, peel, or just won't grow. The culprit: While the length to which your nails will grow is largely genetic, skipping growth-enhancing nail products can make the problem worse.
The solution: According to Skyy Hadley, manicurist and owner of As U Wish Nail Spa in Hoboken, New Jersey, nails need combination treatment to grow their longest and strongest.
"Use a nail protein for one week, then a nail strengthener the next. Alternating the two will build nail strength," she explains. And, of course, be gentle with your tips: Avoid using them as tools or soaking them in water for too long.
The problem: You have white spots dotting several nails. The culprit: Some attribute these common white spots to calcium deposits or vitamin deficiencies.
But they're more likely caused by "stress, trauma to the nail, too-strong polish, or pregnancy," says Hadley. The solution: The only way to treat the spots: Allow them to grow out. In the meantime, keeping your nails polished will help camouflage the spots.
The problem: Your polish chips as soon as you apply it. The culprit: Oil or other debris left on the nail plate before applying polish. Even the tiniest swipe of moisturizer can cause nail polish to chip and peel.
The solution: Clean the nail plate before applying polish. "Use pure alcohol," suggests Hadley. Or try a nail cleaning product like Seche Prep ($5 for one ounce); both methods cleanse and dehydrate the nail, making polish stick better.
The problem: Your cuticles split and hurt. The culprit: Cutting them! "When you cut your cuticles, you expose them to bacteria and make them likely to split," says Hadley.
What's more, bacteria can cause painful infection. The solution: Lay off the cuticle nippers. To help nurse cut or split cuticles back to health, Hadley suggests applying a conditioning cuticle oil that contains Vitamin E and tea tree oil to soften and heal. Use the oil once or twice a day until cuticles are soft and healthy again.