The Full Guide to Nail Care Standards You Never Knew You Needed

Okay ladies, I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with my nails. Is it just me? There are days when I absolutely LOVE being a “girly girl” and painting my nails or getting them done, but nine times out of ten, I run out of time for doing such a thing. Or, as of late, I get my nails done, it lasts about two weeks, I keep up with them myself for a few weeks, then, all of a sudden, my beautiful, long nails get weak and start to break and I’m back at square one. Now, sure, I don’t take the best care of my nails: I can be a little rough on them at times, but I don’t completely forget about them. I file them often, but I’m also a “picker” at my cuticles and the surrounding skin. Word of advice – don’t be like me. It’s awful. It hurts, it looks bad, and then when I go to do my nails again, I typically have to wait until all the damage heals so I don’t burn myself with the nail polish remover.

In a perfect world, I would go to a nail salon every two weeks and get my nails done, but, for me, that’s unrealistic. It gets very expensive, very quickly, and that’s something I just can’t spend money on that often. If they would last a month or so, okay, different story, but again, it’s unrealistic. For me, when I get acrylic nails, my nails seem to grow exceptionally quickly, and within two weeks, they need refilled. This also applies to gel polish. I started doing the gel polish myself: I bought the equipment and would sit down and do them every now and then; however, once it starts to peel up, I’m done for. I start to pick at them and then next thing I know, I’m missing an entire handful of gel nails. Yes, this is a personal problem, but something tells me I’m not alone.

I’m no nail care expert, but I did my research and I found some intriguing facts that I think you might enjoy. So, let’s dive in, learn about the do’s and don’ts of nail care, and see where we fall individually. Maybe you know it all, maybe you don’t, either way, here’s a quick guide with some helpful hints on nail care.

Nail Care Facts:

  • Fingernails grow at a rate of 3.5mm/month (HuffPost)
  • Nails are made up of keratin – the same protein as our hair (HuffPost)
  • Men’s nails grow faster then women’s nails (HuffPost) – I don’t know about you, but this is completely unfair!
  • Your nails on your dominant hand will grow more quickly than your non-dominant (HealthLine)
  • Nail disorders make up about 10% of dermatologic issues (ScienceDirect)
  • Changes in nail color or any troubles to your nail growth could be signs of underlying health issues (HealthLine)

We may not realize it, but our nails are really an essential part of us. That being said, we need to assure that we take proper care of them just as we would any other body part. We have a tendency to ignore our nails, but that shouldn’t be the case. Let’s take a closer look and see what we need to do, and what we shouldn’t do, when it comes to taking care of our nails.

The Essentials of Nail Care

So you want to preserve and care for your nails, but you don’t know where to start. No worries! Here are a few simple tips and tricks, so you can easily take care of your nails and ensure their longevity and good health. Some of these go without saying, but at the same time, I can almost guarantee half of these tips never crossed your mind, because they didn’t for me.

You know the saying, “you are what you eat,” well, it’s true. To help enrich your nails, and your body, you need to make sure to maintain a proper diet. Your nails are composed of the protein keratin, so protein-rich foods such as eggs, red meat, lentils, green vegetables and nuts should be an essential part of your diet. Also, and this goes without saying, always keep yourself hydrated – hydration is key.

  1. Trimming
    • To prevent your nails from tearing or any unnecessary damage, trim your nails regularly to keep them neat and clean.
  2. Keep them clean
    • Your nails don’t always get the best clean just by washing your hands or hopping in the shower. So, to make sure they do, squeeze a lemon into warm water and dip your hands and feet in it for about a minute. Once you’ve finished soaking your nails, grab a brush or a sponge and scrub.
  3. Moisturize
    • Winter is the worst time for your nails. The cold weather sucks the moisture out of your nails, but so does excessive use of nail polish. To prevent this from happening, use a good moisturizer around your nails and over our cuticles – natural oils do the same thing! You can find a good moisturizer/cuticle cream here — thank me later!
  4. Use gloves
    • Run through a typical day in your mind: my guess is that in every little thing you do, you’re using your hands in some fashion. Our nails take the brunt of this usage which causes unnecessary damages. One of the key components to keeping your nails healthy is to keep your hands dry for as long as possible. If you’re washing dishes or gardening, or anything that involves heavy work with your hands, wear gloves to protect your nails from excessive exposure to any water or dirt.
  5. Strengthen your nails
    • Strong body, strong mind, strong nails! Keep your nails nice and strong with nail hardeners or other similar products that you can find in your local market. Another way to do this is to dip your nails in warm olive oil. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your strong nails: stay patient! Use a nail strengthener like this one and start noticing a difference in just a short amount of time
  6. Go easy on the nail polish
    • Who doesn’t love a little color on their nails? We all do, but this can be damaging. The acetone found in nail polish and removers may possibly dry up your nails quickly and easily. If you remove your nail polish one day, give your nails at least 24 hours of free-breathing before adding a new color! Another way to prevent drying is to utilize a nail polish remover with an oil base or something different altogether.

The Nail Care Don’ts

Don’t deny it – at one time or another, you’ve been guilty of one of the most awful crimes to date: biting your nails. This is one of the biggest “don’ts” in nail care. Why? Well, sure, it may be a sign of a bigger problem, like tension, stress or anxiety, but biting your nails can cause damage that, if not taken care of, can cause irreparable damage over time. This may be the biggest “no-no,” but it’s definitely not the only one.

  1. Use your nails as “tools”
    • Have you ever used your nails to scrape objects, dig, or open bottles? What about opening pop cans? I’m sure you have, because it’s extremely common, but this can cause extreme damage to your nails, so try and refrain from it. Opt for using your fingers instead of your nails, or just get something else altogether to prevent the use of your hands.
  2. Ignore problems
    • Some of us can be hypochondriacs and constantly think that there’s something wrong with us. While most of the time this is true, there’s also a few things that we need to be cautious with. If you notice any discoloration, whitening, bluish coloring, folds or abnormal thickening of your nails, you might want to see a dermatologist if the problem persists. These are just a few of the common issues that can lead to dire repercussions in the long run.
  3. Use harsh products
    • So I mentioned how acetone and alcohol-based products can cause more harm than good to the nails, and this reigns true. Try to avoid these products as much as possible. There will be times where they’re necessary, but there are alternatives to intermix into your product usage. On top of these two main issues, if you have any old, expired or low-quality nail polishes laying around – toss them! These products can also lead to nail issues.

The DIY manicure kit

As I mentioned earlier, most people enjoy treating themselves to a day at the nail salon here and there, but if you don’t, no fear: we have alternatives. You can make your very own personal manicure kit to keep at home and have a DIY day for your nails. The following tools are the main staples you need in your DIY kit. Maybe you do like to treat yourself, but you don’t like the idea of using the kits your salon has because of risk of bacterial infection. It’s possible, we all know it. If this is you, take your DIY kit to the salon and tell them you prefer if they use it as opposed to theirs.

  1. Nail Clippers – inevitable to be needed, so invest!
  2. Nail File – shape your nails to your perfect length and shape!
  3. Cuticle Cutters – don’t get caught biting your cuticles (guilty…) or leave them hanging, get cuticle cutters to remove them safely and gently.
  4. Clear Nail Polish – make your nails shine and give them a thin layer of protection against damage and harsh products!
  5. Cuticle/Hand cream – a must-have, especially during the cold, harsh winters! Choose a cream that suits you and your skin type and use it after each treatment to keep your hands soft and moisturized.
  6. Cotton – obviously you need to get that old nail polish off somehow! Use 100% cotton balls for easy removal.
  7. Nail polish remover – yes, acetone and alcohol-based removers are trouble for the nails, so preferably, grab one that’s oil-based and you’re all set!

Simple and easy, the perfect kit for your DIY manicure!

A Dash of Color

Without a doubt, your manicure and pedicure is going to end with the application of some type of nail color, so just remember the “free-breathing” rule of giving your nails at least 24 hours to breathe between polishes. The top five nail polish brands include a wide array of colors so you’re sure to find something that fits your style. Check out Essie, Maybelline, Sally Hansen and OPI to find your signature color and rock it every manicure (GoodHousekeeping). Maybe you want to be a bit fancier and get your own Gel Manicure kit. The same rules apply: some products are harsh and your nails still need time to breather. The top brands you can find a whole DIY Gel Kit from include Gelish, Red Carpet Manicure and Sally Hansen (EliteDaily). Give any of these a try and DIY, who knows maybe you’ll ditch the salons for good!

Don’t know where you want to start with brands or colors? I’ve collected my top choices for each of the top brands and you can use them as a starting point! Jump on board some of the spring trends and get ahead of it. Don’t want to follow the trends? No worries, these colors work year-round if you want them to!


Lady Like or You Do Blue


Paint the Town or Porcelain Party

Sally Hansen:

Re-Nude or Grey-Dreaming


Hello Pretty or Sweet Heart


Call My Blush

Red Carpet Manicure:

Wine For the Win

Every bit of effort counts, and having the knowledge and awareness of what you need is even more important. So, do your part, read your research, and help maintain your nails and keep them healthy and strong. Put in the effort, and you might just nail it!