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Perfect Nails by the Holidays

Sep 21, 2012 12:30PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Nails—Those 10 little pieces of protein are a window of health that can accurately represent what’s lacking in one’s diet or beauty regimen.

But rest assured, common issues like chipping, cracking, and general unsightliness can be controlled and conquered in just three months. You can have one of your best accessories ready for the seasonal celebrations and festive New Year Eve parties—imagine the fun of sparkly nails for that work party, bright shiny reds for a big family get together...or go au naturale everyday! By incorporating some simple tips and tricks into your routine, you’re certain to have picture-perfect nails by the end of the year.

Diet / Since nails are made of a tough protein called keratin, be sure to include protein in your daily diet in the form of chicken, fish, legumes, or eggs. These foods provide strength and elasticity to nails. Ever wonder why nails have white spots? Well, that’s a sign of low zinc and, lucky for us Marylanders, oysters are the best source of zinc of any food. Only one serving per day of these protein-rich mollusks is necessary to make a difference (overdoing protein intake may cause the body to convert extra into fat). And isn’t it convenient that all those “R” months are ahead for us?

Vitamin / That word ‘vitamin’ is singular for a reason, because biotin is the mega- enriching superstar vitamin that gives nails immediate nourishment. This B vitamin supplement, sometimes referred to as vitamin H or vitamin B7, can be taken daily; the recommended dosage is approximately 2.5 milligrams. It helps the body convert food into energy and generates healthy cell growth. (Biotin is available without a prescription, but consult your doctor before taking it.)

Gloves / Wear gloves to garden, when it’s cold, and when washing dishes to protect nails from weather, chemicals, and manual chores. Go a step further and wear hydrating gloves—when resting or sleeping—that can be found at beauty retailers like Ulta, Sephora, even CVS and Target. These gloves are specifically designed to soften and smooth skin and nails with aloe and vitamin E coated fabric. Splurge on Bliss Glamour Gloves for $48 or save with Earth Therapeutics Aloe Moisturize Ultra Plush Moisturizing Gloves for $8. And keep those hands and nails moisturized even when you aren’t wearing the gloves. Get in the habit of using a powerful hand cream (such as Gold Bond Ultimate) after you wash your hands—and keep a tube at work. Remember to massage the cream into your nails as well as you skin.

Tools / To keep nails neat and clean, use a gentle nail brush each time you wash, and use clippers and a four-sided filing block weekly. Wet nails in lukewarm water before cutting them to soften and prevent splitting. Cut nails straight across and file gently in one long stroke. The filing block features varying strength emery boards intended for both filing and buffing. The sides range from coarse to superfine (usually numbered 1–4), so just take your time and go in order. Nail buffing increases blood supply to the nail, which stimulates the matrix (root) of the nail to grow. Plus, it adds a nice shine.