You painted your nails a lovely shade of red to match your bridesmaid dress at your best friend’s wedding, but you were too tired the next day to take it off, and then you were too busy for a week. Now you’ve got another party coming up and you want to apply a new coat of nail polish. But your nails need to breathe. Here’s how to give them a break.
1. Before you apply nail polish, look after the health of your nails.
Are your nails in a healthy state? Care for your nails before you cover ’em. Apply your favourite hand cream or soak your fingers in warm water, then—once your skin is moist—push back your cuticles, exposing more of the actual nail (you can use the nails on your other hand to do so). The warm water should facilitate the process, as pushing back your cuticles isn’t supposed to hurt. Next, use a nail file to smooth any rough sports and, if you really want to smooth the nail, use a buffer to smooth any ridges.
2. Use a safe nail polish.
Acettone-free nail polishes are safer for your nails. The average nail polish contains harsh chemicals—such as toluene, formaldehyde and dibutylphthalate—to which you may be allergic. If you’re exposed to these chemicals in large quantities, they may cause you to feel unwell, inducing headaches, dizziness and nausea, and they are even linked to serious health problems like nerve damage. Fortunately for us, many beauty companies have caught onto the solvent-free trend.
3. Patience, patience, patience.
Now that your nails are in great shape, they’re ready to look and feel great. So pick out the desired colour and start applying with gentle, even brush strokes. Patience and a steady hand are key!
4. Apply a nail strengthener.
While the purpose of nail polish is to look good, you’re still looking out for the health of your nails. Nail strengtheners look like clear polish in a bottle and as the name indicates, they make your nails stronger (not to mention it works great for runs in your nylons!). This extra layer also acts as a protective coating from chipping. Tip: Apply the strengthener not only to the top of your nail, but to the tip as well, as that’s where chipping is most likely to occur.
Wait thirty minutes after application before engaging in any activity that may damage the polish before it dries. That means no typing or texting, ladies! Trust me, your boyfriend will think it’s worth it when he sees your hands. Okay, so maybe your girlfriends are more likely to appreciate it, but at least you won’t feel like you wasted your time and have to start all over.
6. Give your nails a break.
A note to eager nail polish lovers: your nails need some natural “me” time too, for the sake of their health, so make sure your nails aren’t covered in polish 365 days of the year (or even half of that). The formaldehyde in nail polish strengthens nails for some time, but then it leaves them dehydrated, which renders them susceptible to splitting. Your first instinct may be to cover your nails with clear polish to solve the problem, but you’re merely reapplying the formaldehyde that will worsen the problem. Acetone, found in most nail polish removers, is another aggravator, as it essentially removes the oil from your nails. So use nail polish with care—apply it carefully and give your nails a breather.