Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Styling Your Nails – Nail Polish, Manicures, and More

There’s nothing like glancing down and seeing your newly buffed, shined, and polished nails. While a nail technician’s services can surely enhance the appearance of your nails, a beautiful manicure begins with proper nail care.

Maintaining healthy and well-groomed nails makes the job of a nail technician much easier. If you prefer keeping things simple, you won’t even need the help of a professional if you take care of your nails daily.

Read on for our ultimate guide to nail care and styling if you take pride in having healthy nails and fancy trying out the latest nail art trends. And speaking of nail art, we think youโ€™ll enjoy trying metallic foil nail polish on your nails!

What Are Nails Made Of?

Keratin layers, a protein comparable to hair, sprout from our cuticle base and make up our nails. The nails you see are fully “dead,” consisting of dead cells that have pushed their way through your epidermis. If they weren’t, cutting your nails would be painful!

They do, however, have a blood supply that helps them thrive. Capillaries (tiny blood vessels) sit beneath the nail bed and aid in the growth of your nails.

Signs of Unhealthy Nails

fingers of a woman touching her leg

Nails are an excellent sign of other disorders going on in your body, so keep an eye out for any noticeable changes. Consult a doctor if you have any nail concerns. The following are some signs of unhealthy nails:

  • Swelling, pain, or redness around nails
  • Changes in nail shape
  • Changes in nail coloring
  • Pitting in the nails or horizontal ridges
  • Brittle, crumbling nails
  • Nails detaching from the skin (nail bed)
  • White marks on nails

What Causes Nail Ridges?

Vertical ridges, which might be unsightly, are usually caused by dehydration and are harmless. Vertical ridges, on the other hand, can be a sign of trachyonychia if they are accompanied by textural changes or discoloration. If your nails are spoon-shaped and ridged, you can detect anemia (iron deficiency).

Get medical attention right once if you notice ridges (Beau’s lines) or horizontal grooves in your nails. Syphilis, mumps, diabetes, thyroid disease, or acute kidney disease are all causes of Beau’s lines.

What Is Nail Discoloration and What Does It Mean?

Do your nails have any discoloration, such as white, orange, yellow, or green? You could have a fungal infection in your fingers or toenails, which is very common. Trichophyton rubrum is the most prevalent nail fungus, which infects the skin and causes your nails to turn yellow or green.

Nail discoloration, whether red or black, is usually a sign of a hematoma, which occurs due to an impact. Some people are born with “yellow nail syndrome,” which causes slow-growing yellow nails and is linked to respiratory illnesses. Consult the doctor if you worry about your discolored nails.

What Do Your Nail Marks Indicate?

a man presenting his fingers

Many people get little white markings on their nails, and it’s a popular misconception that they’re caused by a lack of Vitamin E. Minor trauma throughout the growth and forming stage causes these spots, known as punctate leukonychia.

They will, thankfully, fade away as your nails develop. It takes about six months to replace an entire fingernail, so you’ll be able to wave goodbye to the spots shortly.

Keeping Your Nails Healthy

Nails in good health should be smooth (no ridges or pits) and uniform in color. The following are signs that your nails are in good shape:

  • A pink or mauve color
  • No horizontal ridges
  • You have cuticles
  • They don’t easily break

You must consider your overall health and well-being and physically maintain your nails to keep them looking excellent.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet enriched in Vitamin A and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids is the greatest thing to do for your nails. Include fruits, eggs, salmon, and oily fish in your diet, along with lean protein, leafy greens, whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts.

It’s also an excellent idea to intake a supplement made specifically for strong nails. Biotin (a B vitamin), silica, Vitamin A, and iron are common ingredients in these supplements, which give your diet a boost.

How to Avoid Nail Biting

Do you nibble on your nails aimlessly when you’re trying to concentrate? This unhealthy behavior, which promotes fungal and bacterial growth, can be broken. The American Academy of Dermatologists Association recommends that you identify your triggers, put bitter-tasting nail polish, develop a new behavior (such as squeezing a stress ball), and keep your nails clipped short.

How to Make Your Nails Stronger

a hand of a person holding a mango

You should apply nail oil daily in addition to enhancing your diet. You can maintain your fingers, cuticles, and nails firm and supple by putting some oil on them. There are many cuticle and nail oils on the market, and the smells and little bottles may appeal to you.

However, you won’t have to spend any money because you may utilize the oils you already have on hand. One of the greatest oils for nail health is olive oil.

How to Quickly Grow Nails

If you want strong, long, and healthy nails, follow the nutritional recommendations above and use a nail supplement. It’s also a fantastic idea to keep from using your hands because it’s easy to break a nail when doing yard work or cleaning.

Finally, rub a cuticle oil into your nails and cuticles daily. This will keep your nails soft and supple, preventing them from breaking.

Taking Care of Your Nails

Examine your nails regularly, and set aside a few minutes each week to clip, shape, and moisturize them. You should include a few things in every nail care kit, including:

  • A nail file
  • Nail clippers or scissors
  • A nail buffer
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Moisturizing cream/oil

Keeping your nails in good shape is simple when you know the basics.


hands with red nail polish

One of the simplest ways to pamper yourself is to get a manicure. They’re quick, cheap, and a wonderful way to experiment with new looks without committing. However, if you’ve never had one before, you might be unsure what to expect and if it’s truly worth it. Maybe this guide can answer all of your questions.

1. What Is a Manicure?

A manicure involves buffing and shaping your fingernails and often include a fresh coat of nail polish. Aestheticians will press back the cuticles and rub down any ridges, making the nails smooth and shiny even before applying the color.

However, this does not imply that all manicures are created equal. Shellac manicures stay significantly longer than regular ones, while paraffin wax manicures leave your skin softer and healthier.

2. Cost of a Manicure

A basic manicure will set you back around $20 on average. Special varieties of manicures, such as acrylic, shellac, gel, and no-chip, can cost anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on the nail salon. Thankfully, a manicure deal near you might help you minimize that cost in half.

3. How Long Does Getting a Manicure Take?

A regular manicure can last anywhere from three to seven days, depending on how well you care for it and how frequently you use your hands. On the other hand, a gel or shellac manicure can last up to two weeks.

4. What Is Nail Art?

Nail art is more than just a great paint job; it takes nails to the next level. Beauticians that specialize in this sort of manicure can paint everything from charming creatures to delicate flowers, among other things. Just be sure to check ahead to see if your preferred salon offers this service (not all of them do).

Seven Types Of Nail Polish You Should Know

Whether you’re stopping by a salon or doing your manicure at home, you’ll notice that there are several different types of nail polish to pick from. Yes, in addition to the traditional formula you have used since you were a kid, there are six different types of nail polish to be aware of.

Some, such as gel polish, may be recognizable to you, while others, such as shellac, may be completely unfamiliar. In any event, consider this your guide to the seven various varieties of nail paint you should be familiar with.

1. Basic

You’ve been using your basic nail polish since before you started wearing makeup. It comes in various colors and finishes, ranging from natural to holographic. This nail polish style isn’t the longest-lastingโ€”you should expect to go a week (or less) without chipping your manicure.

2. Gel

Gel polish is another popular option. This is a firm gel that a nail technician will apply over your bare nail (or you if you’ve perfected an at-home gel mani). It is used in tandem with a UV lamp to cure (or set) the gel polish.

It should remain for two weeks at the most. Like acrylics, you can use them to lengthen your nail shape and offer you a longer length.

3. Acrylic

Acrylic is another popular polish type. This type of polish is composed of a powder and a liquid mixture. This concoction is put directly to your bare fingernail.

Acrylic nail polish hardens while it cures and may be filed to your preferred form. You can utilize it as well to make your natural nail longer. Acrylics also have a two-week lifespan.

4. Breathable

Allow us to lead you in the way of breathable polish if you’re curious about what type is best for your nails. In other words, rather than forming a barrier between your nails and the elements, breathable nail varnish allows water and oxygen to move through your polish and to your nails.

This water-permeable polish allows your nails to breathe, which is crucial if you can’t leave the house without a perfectly painted manicure. The wearability of breathable nail polish is similar to the basic choice we stated earlier, lasting about one week.

5. PolyGel

PolyGel is a nail polish that is a cross between gel and acrylic. This polish was created primarily for nail technicians to use and achieve a flawless manicure.

This nail polish boasts a gel-like consistency and is applied with an acrylic brush to your bare nails. It can then be molded to your preference and cured using UV or LED light.

PolyGel nail polish is among the most long-lasting alternatives available. With adequate care, it can last up to 21 days.

6. Dip Powder

Another type of long-lasting nail lacquer is dip powder nail polish. It can last anytime from three weeks to a month, which is why it’s become such a popular polish option.

To apply dip powder polish, the nail technician will apply a base coat first, followed by a coating of colored powder. This technique will be continued until you have an opaque manicure (with excess powder removed each time). A layer of clear powder and a sealer is added to finish it off.

7. Shellac

Shellac nail lacquer is a combination of basic and gel formulae, just like PoyGel polish is a hybrid of acrylic and gel. It’s painted on bare nails and then exposed to UV light to cure.

You can’t use shellac nail paint to make your nails longer. You should expect this type of polish to last for two weeks on average.

How to Remove Nail Polish

Nail polish removal is straightforward, thanks to various treatments on the market that are designed to be gentle. The days of using harsh acetone as your only alternative are long gone!

Soak a cotton ball or cotton pad in acetone-free nail paint remover and swab it across your nails, taking care to get into the corners. Massage a commercial nail oil or olive oil into your nails and cuticles after removing the lacquer.

Seven Common Nail Shapes

You also have to choose what nail shape you like, as if your manicurist doesn’t place enough pressure on you to select a color when you sit in the chair. You could always leave it to the dealer’s discretion, but getting your nails done amid a blackjack table is a little strange.

So here’s a quick rundown of the seven most common nail shapes.

1. Coffin Nails (or Ballerina Nails)

These long tapered nails resemble coffins or ballet slippers because of their squared-off tips.

2. Almond Nails

Almond nails are named after the nut from which they get their name. They have tapered, slender sides that finish in a rounded point.

3. Oval Nails

The traditionally feminine oval form resembles the shape of the nail’s base at the top. It has tapered sides that curve into a blunt oval shape.

4. Stiletto Nails

With just one glance at these nails, it’s evident that their name refers to the knife rather than the heel. Stilettos taper to a razor-sharp tip that could easily sever someone’s fingerโ€”or at the very least spear through slices of cheese at a cocktail party.

5. Square Nails

Square-shaped fingernails have no rounded, soft points since they look like a square (or even a rectangle, based on their length).

6. Squoval Nails

The sharp corners of the square nail are rounded out in this part-square, part-oval shape, giving it a gentler appearance.

7. Round Nails

Short lengths are combined with curved tips and edges in classic round nails. Round nails resemble oval nails in appearance, especially when long, but they are rounder.

What Is the Best Way to Shape Your Nails?

You might be tempted to reach for the clippers first when it comes to shaping your nails, but resist and pick a buffing block and nail file instead. You can utilize these tools to shape your nails into your desired form carefully.

How to Trim Your Nails Correctly

Isn’t it true that we all know how to trim our nails? Wrong! You could be trimming your nails incorrectly.

To soften your nails, dermatologists recommend soaking them in warm water first. Next, cut your fingernails on a curve with a nail clipper (you must cut toenails straight across).

Cuticles protect you from infection, so resist the desire to clip them too short. Rub oil to your cuticles and hydrate your hands with hand cream once you’re done.

What to Do If Your Nail Is Broken

a close up of a person clipping their nails

When you break a nail, whether it’s your natural claws or long acrylic extensions, it can be not very pleasant. Breaking a nail isn’t a laughing matter; it can be unsightly and painful. There are a few things you may use to temporarily mend your broken nail until you can go to your nail technician.

1. Teabag

Remove the tea from a teabag and throw it away. Remove a small piece of the paper and put it over the tear. Next, dab some nail glue or crazy glue over the broken nail and let it dry before filing down the lumpy glue and applying a topcoat.

2. Glue

Apply a couple of layers of nail glue to the surface of your broken nail after carefully buffing the area. After everything has dried, apply a thin layer of clear nail polish – base and topcoat paints will suffice.

3. Silk Wrap

For more serious breaks and cracks, use this method. With the nail polish gone, clean the area and buff away any extra polish or snags to achieve a flat surface.

Apply nail adhesive to the crack and let it dry before applying clear polish. Smooth a piece of silk that has been trimmed to size over the area while the polish is still wet. Apply a second coat of gel polish to complete the look.

4. Cut It Off

If the crack is closer to the end of your nail, trimming it and cutting the rest of your nails to about the same length might be your best option. This will keep the breakage from worsening.

Do’s and Don’ts for Healthy Nails

Examine your fingernails closely. Do they appear to be strong and healthy? Do you notice any dents, ridges, or unusually shaped or colored areas?

Proper fingernail care can prevent a variety of less-than-desirable nail problems. Others could be signs of a more serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

1. Do’s in Fingernail Care

To maintain your fingernails looking their best, follow these steps:

Keep your fingernails clean and dry. Bacteria cannot grow under your fingernails as a result of this. Split fingernails can be caused by prolonged or frequent contact with water. Use cotton-lined rubber gloves when cleaning, dishwashing, or working with harsh chemicals.

Maintain proper nail hygiene. Use manicure clippers or scissors that are sharp. Trim your nails evenly across, and then gently curl the tips.

Make use of a moisturizer. Massage the lotion into your cuticles and fingernails when using hand lotion.

Apply a layer of protection. The use of a nail hardener may aid in strengthening your nails.

Inquire with your doctor regarding biotin. According to some research, biotin, a dietary supplement, may help strengthen brittle or weak fingernails.

2. Don’ts in Fingernail Care

To avoid damaging your nails, don’t:

Nab at your cuticles or bite your fingernails. These habits might cause the nail bed to deteriorate. Even a small scratch near your fingernail might allow fungi or bacteria to enter and cause infection.

Remove any hangnails you may have. You could rip live tissue together with the hangnail. Instead, clip hangnails with care.

Make use of abrasive nail care products. Use nail polish remover sparingly. When removing nail polish, choose an acetone-free solution.

Ignore issues. Consult a dermatologist or your doctor if you have a nail condition that doesn’t appear to go away on its own or in conjunction with other signs and symptoms.

A Few Words about Manicures and Pedicures

If you count on beautiful pedicures or manicures for healthy-looking nails, keep a few things in mind:

Stick to salons with a valid state license and only work with likewise state-licensed technicians. Cuticles operate as a seal between the epidermis and the nail plate; hence removing them can lead to nail infection. To avoid illness transmission, ensure the nail technician sterilizes every tool used during your operation.

You could also inquire about how the foot baths are kept clean. Between clients, you should use a bleach solution and clean the filters regularly.

It’s easy to overlook your fingernails, but by following a few simple procedures, you can keep them strong and healthy.

Your Nails Will Stay Healthy and Strong With Simple Nail Care

a personโ€™s hand grabbing a lemon, lemons

Daily nail care will not only keep your nails healthy but will also improve the way they appear and feel with just a few minutes of attention. While admiring your gleaming fingertips, you can find yourself postponing your next manicure.

If you are interested to learn more, you may also check out our article on the Essentials for An Effective Manicure.