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The best nail care routine to keep healthy nails

Some people say that you can know someone by looking at his/her eyes, and that is true. But it is also true that hands give you a lot of information about a person. The hands’ appearance let us know or guess how the person in front of us may be. It is important to keep nice and healthy hands by having a good handcare routine but it is also important to care about our nails and show healthy nails.

Our nails should be nice but, more important, they should be healthy. In this post, I am going to talk about a nail care routine to keep healthy nails and the steps to follow to get a good manicure at home, so they can keep our nails beautiful also.

What are the nails?

A nail is a claw-like plate at the tip of the fingers and the toes in most primates. Nails correspond to claws found in other animals. Nails are made of a tough protective protein called alpha-keratin, which is a polymer.


Keratin is the same protein we can find in hair and skin. Similar to hair, the visible part of the nail is dead. However, not all the nail is dead. There is a part of the nail which is under the skin and grows to push dead cells off. The hidden part of the nail is surrounded by capillary blood vessels which bring the blood the nail needs to grow.

Which are the functions of the nails?

The original function of the nails is to help humans in everyday jobs, such as digging, climbing, scratching, etc. Obviously, nowadays we don’t need nails for those duties. However, nails are still useful for us, as they have important functions like:

  • Protection. The nails protect our fingertips from injuries, cuts, etc.
  • Enhancer. Nails enhance sensations. There are lots of nerves ending on the fingertips and the nails enhance the feelings when we touch something.
  • Ornamental. Nails have become an important beauty element in most cultures around the world.

What are the parts of a nail?

If you look at your nails, they seem to be something very simple. All you can see is the nail tip with the cuticles around, but underneath the skin, there are many complex structures. The nail tip is like the iceberg tip, however, the bulk is not visible.

The different parts of the nail, described in a very simple way, are:

  • Nail Matrix. Also called the nail root, it is the part of the nail which lies below the skin and where the nail begins to form. This part extends several millimetres into the finger.
  • Lunula. It is the opaque area, with a semi-circular shape, visible through the nail plate. It is the visible part of the nail matrix. However, it is not always visible and it is more visible on the thumbs.
  • Nail Plate. It is the visible nail, we can say it is the proper nail. However, not all the visible part of the nail is the nail plate, only the part in contact with the skin. Keratin is the main component and it has a flat, translucent aspect. An average person has about 50 layers of keratin per nail.

Healthy nails

  • Nail Bed. It is the soft tissue underneath the nail and contains blood vessels, nerves and melanocytes.
  • Free Edge. That part is the tip end of the nail, the part not attached to the skin that we use to clip and file.
  • Eponychium. This is the skin covering the matrix area and the root. The eponychium produces the cuticles. These are thin layers of dead tissue which form a seal between the nail plate and the eponychium.
  • Hyponychium. That is the soft tissue underneath the free edge of the nail. It is rich in white cells and, therefore, prevents infections.
  • Peyonychium. It is the skin which overlaps onto the sides of the nail plate.

Dos and don’ts for healthy nails

There are a few things we can do and avoid to keep healthy nails.

What to do for healthy nails

  • Try to keep your nails clean and dry to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Apply moisturiser on your nails. Every time you apply the cream to your hands extend the application to the nails.
  • Apply nail hardener. That will help you to keep stronger nails and avoid breakage.
  • Use gloves to carry out home and garden jobs, like washing up.
  • If your nails are excessively weak or they change in colour or shape ask your doctor about taking biotin supplements.

What to avoid to keep healthy nails

  • Don’t bite your nails or cut the cuticles.
  • Avoid pulling off hangnails, cut them, carefully instead.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals such as acetone to remove nail polish.

How to make the manicure at home

I am not going to talk in this post about decorative manicures, but about a basic manicure to keep healthy nails. Shortly, I will make a post about the different types of manicures, but here I will discuss only the basic steps we need to follow independent of if you are going to decorate your nails or not. I like to go through this basic manicure once a week, but you can go as frequently as you feel is necessary.

  • Remove old nail polish. This step is optional and will depend on if you were wearing nail polish or not. If you need to remove it, use a nail polish remover without acetone to avoid dehydrating the nail. If you are not wearing nail polish it will be enough with washing your hands.
  • File the nails. You must do that only when your nails are fully dry. Use a quality nail file and start filing from the edges to the centre of the nail. Give the shape you like and which works better with your daily activities and lifestyle.
  • Soak your nails. Soak your nails in a bowl with soapy water for a few minutes. Don’t oversoak them as they can catch an excess of water and become very tender and fragile after a few minutes dry your nails well with a clean towel.

healthy nails

  • Push back your cuticles. Once your nails are dry, apply a cuticle balm or oil to soften them. Then, with an orange tree stick, push the cuticles back. Don’t cut them as the cuticles have an important function, protecting our nails from infections.
  • Cut hangnails. If you have hangnails or dead skin around your nails cut them with sharp nail scissors. Don’t pull them off as you can seriously damage your fingers.
  • Hydrate your nails. Now it is time to apply a good moisturiser. There are different options of hand creams which are also indicated for the nails.
  • Decorate. Finally, if you wish, you can decorate your nails with your favourite technique. Or if you prefer you can leave your nails as they are.

Most common nail concerns

Most of the common nail concerns are a consequence of a lack of care better than a real problem or disease. These problems have an easy fix and only keeping care of your nails will show healthy nails again. However, if you feel there are any signs of infections or other more serious problems, you will contact your doctor and ask for advice.

Some of the most common problems are:

  • Your nails bend easily. Most probably they are under an excess of water. Try to keep them dry and use gloves to carry out some tasks such as washing up.
  • They are extremely hard. That means they are dehydrated. That is easy to fix. Apply a moisturiser cream every time you wash your hands and use a thick moisturising cream during the night. A very good option is shea butter. Apply a thick layer and cover your hands with a cotton glove to sleep.
  • Grooved nails. This is normally produced by the use of harsh chemicals such as cleaning products, acetone, etc. Avoid the use of these harsh chemicals and this problem will disappear.
  • Weak and/or yellowish. These two problems are a consequence of excess nail polish. My advice is to give your nail some rest between nail polish applications and apply a nourishing nail oil.
  • Ingrown nails. That is more frequent on the toes but can also happen on the hands. That happens when you cut your nails very close to the skin. Avoid cutting your nails too short.

For any other problem you can see, ask your doctor.


Homemade remedies for healthy nails

You don’t need to go to a salon or buy expensive products to keep your nails healthy. You can use ingredients which are already in your pantry to make your nails look gorgeous. My favourites are:

  • Olive Oil. Olive oil is rich in fatty acids and vitamins which are nourishing for your nails. Introduce your nails in olive oil for 15-20 minutes twice a week. That will help you to strengthen your nails.
  • Vitamin E. It is not frequent to have vitamin E in your kitchen, but I am including it here as it is very easy to get from your local pharmacy as capsules (buy from Boots). Apply vitamin E to the cuticles a few times a day. That will increase the cuticle strength and, therefore, the protection against bacteria and micro-organisms (in addition to making them look nicer).
  • White vinegar. White vinegar contains acetic acid and this ingredient makes your nails look shiny when you apply it. Apply white vinegar with cotton or a reusable pad a few times a day.
  • Garlic. Garlic acts as a natural hardener. To apply, add a crushed garlic clove to your transparent nail polish. You will quickly feel the difference.

I will be talking soon about the different types of manicures, from the decorative point of view, you can get nowadays. In the meantime, I hope you follow my tips to get healthy nails because, no matter which manicure you get, it will not look nice if your nails are not healthy.

What do you do to keep your nails healthy? How many times do you make the basic manicure? let me know in the comments.


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

I love beauty and skincare, try new products, and share my opinion with you. All my knowledge comes from years of experience and reading articles. I have dry skin, Fitzpatrick type IV, warm undertone, and my main concern is hyperpigmentation. Keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. We are all different and products can have different results on your skin. Want to talk? Email me at contact@irenebeautyandmore.com

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