Get Stronger, Prettier Nails

A good manicure or pedicure in a bold color can make hands and feet appear instantly younger.

stronger nails

Photo by: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Painting your nails? It’s actually the perfect way to distract from aging hands, says celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann. But when your nails are weak and brittle, you can’t just throw on polish then scrub it off. You have to add a few strategic steps to the process—and know exactly how to file and coat.

Moisturize nails first Cover nails and the skin surrounding them with a good cuticle cream first.

Pick a pretty shape The most flattering one mimics the arc of your cuticle bed. If it’s round or oval, don’t make your nails square or pointed. And file smoothly in one direction. Sawing back and forth shreds the multiple layers of protein and keratin that make up the nail, leading to peeling and breakage. (Note: For a pedi, you can simply clip!)

Lay a good foundation A base coat doesn’t just fill in ridges to make color go on more smoothly and last longer—it also helps prevent future staining. If your nails are weak, choose one that also doubles as a conditioning treatment (look for strengthening ingredients like gelatin and keratin protein).

Apply polish Put it on vertically up the nail to the free edge first, then paint horizontally right along the tip to seal color where it’s most likely to chip. Add a second coat.

Finish with a topcoat It seals in color and adds extra sheen.

Make your mani last longer Swipe on cuticle oil five minutes after your topcoat. It makes the top layer slick and can help minimize nicks as your mani dries. (You should also apply it daily to keep nails flexible, which helps prevent chips and breaks!)


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