Self-care tips often focus on skin care with a few tips thrown in for keeping your locks healthy and shiny. But, what about your nails? They can easily become weakened, chipped, and flaky from stress, poor diet, and lack of general care as well as from the constant use of our hands—even when we don’t realize it.

Biotin supplements are often the first thing to pop up when searching for nail care tips or ways to strengthen your nails but isn’t there more you could be doing to take care of your nails; something that could be simply added to your regular self-care routine with minimal effort?

We’ve asked our skilled manicurists what they do and recommend to their clients. Here are some of the tips they have for our readers.

Supplements

Yes, Biotin is one; however, it is more of a supplement for hair, skin, and nails. Look for something more targeted, with a high dose of protein—which is used to replenish and nurish your nail plate. Also, some of our manicurists prefer something that is applied directly to your nail, ensuring the nail reaps the benefits. Consuming a supplement can be beneficial but the nutrients may be applied to other areas in your body.

Actual Foods

Sure, supplements are great but they are best to supplement what you are already taking in. Foods naturally rich in biotin and protein—like eggs, beans, avocado, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and almonds—are great for nail health. Walnuts and fish, foods that are rich in Omega-3s and vitamin E are also beneficial for nail health.

Chill on the Nail Appointments

Your paint may have chipped, but don’t come rushing right back in. Keep your manicures about 2 weeks apart and your pedicures every 2-3 weeks. We do love seeing you, but our goal is to help promote nail health as much as nail beauty. You can reapply regular (non-toxic) polish at home but if you have gel polish, this too requires some time before reapplying to help keep your nail plate healthy. Gel manicures can dehydrate your nails if the proper care isn’t taken, especially during at home removal. We’ve drawn up a separate list of tips to address that issue.

Shop Products Wisely

Opt for products that clearly state they are non-toxic. Those that also help with addressing specific issues such as nail breakage or peeling should be chosen over similar colors that don’t. One of our favorite products to implement in routine nail care is apply a natural nail oil to our nails—you essentially apply it like lotion, so its not difficult to make it a part of your beauty habits. As for polish removers, transfer to using non-acetone nail polish removers. Acetone is harsh on nails and greatly dries out anything organic (nails and skin) it touches.

Exfoliate

Nope, we are not talking about your face, we really do mean exfoliate your nails. Read up here to see just how beneficial it can be.

Do Not Touch Your Cuticles

Unless a cuticle has torn or is loose, do not cut it. If you have to, use the right tool for the job to reduce the trauma to the surrounding cuticle and nail bed.  The cuticle is an important feature of your nail—it is a waterproof and bacteria resistant seal, keeping your nail matrix healthy. You can use a wooden cuticle or manicure stick to gently push them back and should apply a cuticle oil to keep them hydrated. This reduces the likelihood of tears, breakage, or looseness that drive you to wanting to cut your cuticles. Plus, when your cuticle is healthy, it helps promote overall nail health.

Now you know a few things you can do and products to try to keep your nails strong and healthy!