Natroma Natural Nail Care
How to care for the nails naturally
In our shop we're always receiving enquiries about how to grow long nails. Most people are looking for something to paint onto the nails to strengthen them. Quite often these customers have false nails, and admit there's a lot of upkeep (and cost) involved. Most people look a little aghast when I suggest the fake nails should removed, if they want to have naturally long nails. But it's the only way for the nails to recover from the acrylic coating and harsh chemicals that are used whenever false nails are applied, infilled and removed.
During the coronavirus pandemic my usual nail care has changed - for the first time in years I have been able to grow my nails. Usually I have to keep them extremely short because I'm a massage therapist, so they're cut every week.
The image shows what my nails looked like around 4-5 weeks after we closed our treatment room. The nails were incredibly hard, very smooth and despite me running around like crazy trying to keep the business going, not one had broken. So what's my secret?
Growing my nails hasn't always been easy. When I was younger, I bit my nails and my hands looked horrible. My nails were weak, the edges regularly flaked and tore off and my cuticles and fingers were sore most of the time. Over the years I discovered that nail polish didn't really help. I spent a small fortune in nail polish, primers, base coats, top coats, nail strengthening coatings etc, and while these seemed to help the nails for a while, they always broke, flaked or splintered once the artificial layer was removed.
In the end I stopped applying the polishes and started rubbing vaseline into my nails when they flaked. (I know, I know......but I didn't know any better when I was younger! ) . Slowly, my nails grew a little but they were still soft and snapped off very easily. I noticed they seemed to improve after I began using hot oil treatments on my hair, so I began to research natural oils...and immediately stopped using the vaseline once I found out what it contained! I switched to using only botanical oils, and my nails began to strengthen and stopped flaking at the edges. I let them grow with only minimal manicuring. They kept breaking, but they'd grow back slightly longer each time. If you've ever grown long nails, you'll know that they begin to ache once they reach a certain length. So I'd cut them once I noticed the ache, and slowly over the years I strengthened each nail by regularly massaging in natural oils.
When I began making natural skin care at home, one of the first products I developed would later became Natroma Nail Silk. Oils work fine on the nails, but they're pretty messy to apply. I wanted a solid balm that could be carried anywhere, and used when I was out and about. Nail Silk contains organic butters and oils with Vitamin E, and is designed to be heavy enough to condition the nail surface and cuticles, but it has a formulation that sinks in within a few minutes. Nail Silk contains anti-fungal essential oils, to try to prevent nail infections, and was a game changer for me. My nails began to grow like weeds once I started using it regularly, and I'm sure it's why after all these years they are now so strong and healthy. Nail Silk won a natural beauty award in 2018 and continues to be one of our most popular Natroma products. I'm really glad it's helping so many people to grow their nails!
So my tips for healthy natural nails are as follows:
1. Allow the nails to breathe - it's time to take off those false nails and polish! The nails are more permeable than the skin, so this is why they flake when they become dehydrated. Nail polishes and fake nails smother the nails, and over time will weaken them. Try to leave them natural if you can. Eventually they will strengthen and grow, so there won't be any need to glue on false nails. Occasionally apply nail polish for special occasions rather than leaving it on all the time.
2. Avoid using harsh chemicals on the nails - acetone nail polish remover is damaging, but so is bleach and other household cleaners, so try to wear gloves when you handle chemicals.
3. Condition the nails and fingers regularly with a botanical oil or nail balm. Massage it over the surface of the nail, around the edges and into the cuticles every day.
4. Gently ease back the cuticles while the hands are oily - do not trim them with scissors or nail clippers since this can cause injury and infection.
5. If your nails are flaky use a heavier balm product (like Nail Silk) regularly, massaging the nail surface and base of each nail. Massage stimulates the blood flow in the nail plate and encourages nail growth.
6. Trim the nails regularly - this probably sounds counter intuitive when you're trying to grow your nails, but it actually encourages stronger growth.
7. When manicuring the nails, glide the nail file in one direction at a time to smooth the nail edge (do not saw at the nail from side to side, this will weaken it).
8. Try to keep the nails dry as much as possible, using gloves when you wash up.
9. Gently clean under the nails if your hands get dirty, to prevent any build up of debris or dead skin. Do not poke at the growing point just under the nail, but try to keep things clean to reduce the possibility of nail infections.
10. Watch your diet, since vitamin deficiencies (such as A, D and B12) will have a big impact on nail health and lead to flaking, breakage, discolouration and nail ridges.
Take care, and I hope these tips have helped!