Having healthy, smooth skin and nails during the winter season requires proper care and attention. It’s about striking the right balance between necessary moisture and keeping areas like toes clean and dry.
Lead chemist Frank Busch at Cutex Brands invented the first nail polish remover formula to receive a US patent in more than 15 years and knows the science of your nails’ needs. As an expert on taking care of nails, Busch shares the basics of winter nail care with Nail It!:
As the seasons change from summer to fall and from fall to winter, the days become shorter, colder and all humidity depletes. Indoor heaters create dry, desert-like conditions. We wash our hands more frequently to avoid colds and flu, and our skin is constantly shocked by the rapid temperature differences between the outdoors and indoors. Nothing about cold weather helps skin retain the moisture it needs to stay hydrated, leaving hands cracked and dry.
What do healthy nails look like?
Healthy nails are smooth, without pits or grooves, and are uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Vertical ridges on nails are perfectly normal and tend to be more prominent with age. Fingernails can develop white spots or lines due to an injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail.
What are the warning signs of unhealthy nails?
+ Changes in nail color, such as discoloration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail
+ Changes in nail shape, such as curled nail
+ Thinning or thickening of the nails
+ Separation of the nail from the surrounding skin
+ Bleeding around the nails
+ Redness, swelling or pain around the nails
The good news is there are simple steps you can take to keep your digits in tip-top condition throughout the cold season:
1. Keep Your Hands and Feet Dry. Because mold and fungus thrives in dark, wet places, be sure to dry between your toes after you shower. Make sure to change your socks right after you exercise, and be sure to alternate days wearing tights, pantyhose or gloves and let them air out overnight.
2. Water Transfer is Crucial for Nail Care. When trapped under your nail bed, water can soften your nails and make it difficult for the polish to adhere to the nail. Make sure nails are as dry as possible before applying new polish, gel polish, or acrylics. Otherwise, fungal infections can occur.
3. Preserve Moisture. Skip long, hot showers. Instead, take 10-minute warm showers and use an oil-based moisturizer, which helps preserve moisture better when the humidity is low. Moisturized nails will not become dry, brittle and break easily. Nails chip because they get too dry, just like they get soft when you’re out of the shower. Nail polish helps prevent that by protecting the nail from drying out too quickly. Putting oils on nails can also help prevent moisture loss and chipping. Consider a portable humidifier for your home or work, which puts moisture in the air that will be absorbed by your skin and hair.
4. Go easy on your nails. After removing your old polish and applying your new one, make sure to hydrate. Acetone can dry out your skin and nails, and excessive picking and pulling of either polish or gel polish can damage your nail and cause it to peel. If you have a hard time getting stubborn polish or glitters off without scraping and you’re finding 100% acetone is too rough on your nails and fingers, opt for Cutex SPA Formula Nail Polish Remover which removes the toughest polishes.
5. Massage regularly. Increase blood circulation by lightly massaging your nails for 5 minutes. This will strengthen nails and encourage growth.
6. Practice Safe Mani-Pedis. Be salon smart and ask if your local nail place opens up a new set of tools for every customer and lines their pedicure tubs with a new plastic protector each time. Consider bringing in your own polish or use Cutex nail polish removers when wiping away your manicure and pedicure. One hundred percent acetone can dry and damage nails, but the patented formula in Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover and Cutex SPA Formula for hard-to-remove polish not only removes color but also strengthens and conditions nails.
7. Say no to cuticle cutting. Stray away from cutting cuticles as this opens up your skin to infections. The best thing to do to keep cuticles healthy is moisturize them and push them back, especially in cold weather. Using hand cream or petrol oil like Vaseline can help prevent cracking during the winter months.
Tips by Frank Busch; Images: Cutex