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Nail health and care 101: Perfection at your fingertips


From whether buffing nails and cutting cuticles is a good idea or not, to how to give them lasting nourishment, here’s all you need to know.

Our hands, especially nails, take a beating as we go about our daily lives and chores, leaving the nails brittle, discoloured and unhealthy.If you think monthly mani-pedi visits to the salon can reverse the damage, then you’re only partly right, since rituals like these, too, can bring harm.



“Healthy nails are uniform and consistent in colour and strength, smooth in texture, without any pits or discolouration. Along with the nail plate, the nail fold skin which does not have any inflammation or scaling also contributes to health of a nail unit,” says Dr Nirupama Parwanda, dermatologist.

For instance, a common practice during nail grooming sessions is cutting of cuticles. Bad idea, say experts.

“Nail cuticle is the transparent skin located above and around the nail base. It protects your nail and the surrounding skin from infection. Cutting them makes it easier for bacteria and fungal elements to get inside. So it’s best to just push back the cuticle and trim loose skin and hangnails,” says dermatologist Dr Nirupama Parwanda.

Nail buffing, too, needs caution — if you do it too often and too aggressively, it can damage the nail plate and lead to splitting of nails.


Opt for foods rich in zinc, protein and vitamin A. Eggs, apples and apricots are great source of vitamin A, and increase nail strength. Sunflower seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients which are known to be great for one’s nails. They are packed with selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin E and thiamine, all of which are essential for formation and maintenance of nails.

Coming to habits that need alteration, and beauty expert Bharti Taneja reminds to not bite your nails. “It’s constant damage that people cause to their nails.Also, a cracked nail demands immediate filing or trimming or it might get stuck into something and break further,” she says.



Warm half a teaspoon each of olive oil and almond oil. Add fine sugar or common salt and your scrub is ready.

Use a mix of petroleum jelly and almond powder to get rid of yellow tinge on nails.

Grind half an egg shell, 4-5 almonds and a spoonful of flax seeds. Add milk to smoothen the mix. Scrub nails with it to get rid of ridges on the nail plate.


Mix equal portions of beer and apple cider vinegar. Dip nails in it for 10 minutes, and massage for shining nails. — Inputs by beauty expert Bharti Taneja

Nail products and polishes , too, aren’t always free of harsh chemicals. Apart from opting for acetone-free nail polish remover, pick polishes free of the following toxic chemicals, advises Dr. Parwanda.

DBP (Dibutyl phthalate): It’s used in nail polish to reduce chipping, but has been linked with reproductive issues.

Toluene: Keeps the polish application smooth; has been linked to causing decreased brain function, impaired breathing, headache, nausea and dizziness.

Formaldehyde: Helps harden nails and polishes. However, exposure to larger doses of formaldehyde can lead to throat, lung and blood cancer.