Nails make it easier to pick up small things, clean a frying pan, and scratch an itch. They also provide an external sign of your health, with weak, brittle nails often signaling some nutritional deficiency. Ignore your nails and you could wind up with painful ingrown nails or annoying fungal infections.
1. To keep your nails hydrated, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly into your cuticle and the skin surrounding your nails every evening before you go to bed or whenever your nails feel dry. Keep a jar in your purse, desk drawer, car — anywhere you might need it. Not a fan of petroleum jelly? Substitute castor oil. It’s thick and contains vitamin E, which is great for your cuticles. Or head to your kitchen cupboard and grab the olive oil — it also works to moisturize your nails.
2. Wear rubber gloves whenever you do housework or wash dishes. Most household chores, from gardening to scrubbing the bathroom to washing dishes, are murderous on your nails. To protect your digits from dirt and harsh cleaners, cover them with vinyl gloves whenever it’s chore time. And for extra hand softness, apply hand cream before you put on the rubber gloves.
3. When pushing back your cuticles (it is not necessary to cut them) come in at a 45-degree angle and be very gentle. Otherwise the cuticle will become damaged, weakening the entire nail, says Mariana Diaconescu, manicurist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City.
4. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. This is particularly important if you have diabetes.
5. Dry your hands for at least two minutes after doing the dishes, taking a bath/shower, etc. Also dry your toes thoroughly after swimming or showering. Leaving them damp increases your risk of fungal infection.