As we head into flip-flop season, it’s time to talk some nail care 101 to ensure we’re putting our best foot forward – literally – while also considering our fingertips.  How can you ensure your nails aren’t neglected before you slip on a pair of summer shoes?

If there’s some serious repair work to do and you have some extra cash to spend, a professional manicure and pedicure could be well worth it.  The equipment and expertise available at the salon will leave you with a shiny new set in no time flat.  However, there’s also a few things we can remember to do at home to keep our nails looking their best.

One of the most common nail ‘no-nos’ is leaving polish on far too long.  This stains nails, and the yellowed or cloudy gray surface left behind is far from desirable.  It can also take a significant amount of time for nail growth to appear, so any surface staining is eliminated.  Experts recommend switching out polish every three weeks, tops.

And, speaking of polish, the top ingredients to avoid include formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, camphor, parabens, sulfates, lead, and acetone.  Another one to hit the news in more recent years is something called Triphenol Phosphate (TPHP).  A study performed in late 2015 showed that TPHP is absorbed into our skin at high rates through the nails and this toxic ingredient can disrupt the cell messaging, telling them to change or behave in ways abnormal to the body.  TPHP can also cause skin irritation.

Gel, although all the rage during the summer months for its ability to adhere to nails and withstand the elements without chipping, can also lead to significant, long-lasting damage.  Gel is traditionally removed by soaking nails in acetone until the coating weakens, then prying it off.  Doing this repeatedly strips nails, which could take up to twelve months – longer if not left untouched – to heal.

Improperly sized shoes, especially those that are too small and hug the toes, lead to toenail damage, too.  This damage looks just like nail fungus, although it’s not.  Only a biopsy can signal the difference.  In any case, the damage, actually, eventually leads to fungus, which is very difficult to get rid of for good when it’s latched on to nails.

The best trick for flawless nails is leaving them natural or coating them with a protein-builder for extra strength.  File and clip away any chips as needed and remember to apply lotion to keep surrounding skin soft.

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