Nail problem: Thickening, hard cuticles, which leads to hangnails.
Solution: “Using cuticle oil on a daily basis helps prevent this from occurring,” says Laura Merzetti, owner of Scratch My Back Nail Studio in Ajax, Ont. Look for one that contains almond or jojoba oil. “The small molecules can penetrate the cuticle and soften the skin,” she says.
Try: CND Solar Oil. As for how to deal with the hangnails you have? Using sharp cuticle nippers, snip the hangnail off cleanly and then treat with cuticle oil. Do not pull or bite it off, and by all means, do not clip any living tissue as this will allow bacteria to enter and may lead to infection.
Try: Sally Hansen Cuticle Tamer.
Nail problem: You got impatient and peeled off your soak-off gel
manicure and now your nails are thin, weak and are painful to the touch.
Solution: “Don’t rush to get another
soak-off gel manicure—this product needs a good foundation,” says Laura, and if you’ve messed up your natural nail by peeling off layers, subsequent applications will not last. “It’s the keratin in the top layer of nail that these nail enhancement products stick to,” she explains. Also, avoid the temptation to buff your nails as you’ll only be removing even more of your nail bed. Apply a nail hardener and leave your nails alone until they’re back to a normal healthy state. How long will it take? “It’s different for everyone, but at least a few weeks,” says Laura.
Try: Sally Hansen VitaSurge Strength Gel.
Nail problem: Hardening skin underneath the tip of your nail. “Never ever cut this,” says Laura. Doing so would be like asking for an infection given how dirt and bacteria can easily get underneath your nails.
Solution: Cuticle oil will help soften and reduce this common problem.
Nail problem: Splitting, weak, bendable nails. “This is a sign your nails have too much moisture,” says Laura.
Solution: Use a product such as Essie Rock Solid Ultimate Strength Treatment. “But only use a strengthener for the period of time recommended on the product directions, and then switch to a maintenance product.” Otherwise your nails will have so much moisture removed and they’ll become brittle.
Nail problem: Yellowed nails. This occurs when you haven’t used a base coat, says Laura. “Don’t use clear nail polish and avoid duo products that function as both a topcoat and a base coat.”
Solution: Use a separate top coat and base coat as they do different jobs—a product that aims to do both won’t do either well, says Laura. A base coat is your primer for your manicure and it adheres to the keratin in your nail. Your topcoats job is to protect your nail colour. As for the yellowing, gently buffing will help alleviate the discolouration.
Try: Revlon Crazy Shine Nail Buffer.
Tip: Clean your at-home manicure tools regularly, even if you’re the only one using them. Wash in warm, soapy water using a brush to gently scrub them and pat dry. Then soak them in some 70-percent alcohol (available in drugstores) for 10 minutes, rinse and wipe dry.