Rehab Your Nails: Stress Breaks


Today we're talking about STRESS breaks. Stress breaks are pretty common and they are called that, not because your nail is stressed out, but because the nail tends to break at the stress points. A lot of things can cause stress breaks so if you fall into this category of nail types it's likely that a few changes may eliminate this issue for you. Of course, it can also be hereditary and it can also be a cause of damage to your matrix, which we'll talk about further down in this blog. But let's start with how to identify a stress break.  If you look at your nails, do you see that point where they start to turn white?  That's where your free edge starts and your nail bed ends. That may be basic information to most of you but did you know that that area and a few millimeters below it is the stress point of your nail? This is where all the pressure gets absorbed and it's why your nail is most likely to break on the free edge or just below it. A stress break commonly occurs on the side of the nail and typically below the free edge. That's important! A break above the free edge is usually either a brittle nail or just a typical break which can happen to anyone. A break BELOW the free edge is going to either be from serious trauma or stress. If your stress breaks are caused by usage (ie opening cans with that nail, using it to pry things, repeated pressure on the nail in that area which can come from typing or other types of work...) then you can simply baby your nails with lots of oil and lotion and stop using your nails as tools. ;P  If your stress breaks are hereditary, you can help improve them by using oils and lotions daily, limiting the amount of daily wear on them by, again, not using your nails as tools, avoiding water (yeah, again.), and if they're really bad, using a layer of gel polish to strengthen nails. DO NOT use strengthener. This can actually make stress breaks MORE likely. Nail strengtheners are for thin nails and nails with too much flex. They are not meant for normal nails. If your stress breaks are caused by permanent matrix damage then that's going to make things a little more difficult for you. In my case, my nails have a specific growth pattern to them. Your nails do too and everyone's nails are a little different. Some grow straight, some curve gently, some curve a lot. As they start to come off the free edge, take a look at your c-curve.  If it's extra curvy or bends under on one side or the other this can also cause stress breaks since part of your nail takes more pressure than the rest. You can help fix this by changing the shape of your nails. And rounded nails will almost ALWAYS benefit a person suffering from stress nails. But in some cases the matrix damage may be causing part of your nail to grow thinner than another. Again this creates a constant area of breakage. So what can you do? Stick to a solid routine of oil, massage and lotion daily, and again...DON'T USE YOUR NAILS AS TOOLS! Stress breaks are my biggest issue and unfortunately, one of the best ways to avoid them is to skip regular nail polish changes. The more you expose these nails to remover, the more you dry them out and leave them prone to breaks. But since I don't plan to stop polishing anytime soon, I make sure to oil throughout the day and to only do waterless manicures. Unless I'm on a vacation or in the summer when I'm in water a lot, I generally see really good results from this routine and you will too! Always keep in mind that nails grow from the base not the tip. Any new routine should be followed for a minimum of four to six weeks to see results. :)


Rehab Your Nails: Brittle Nails


Today we're going to talk about brittle nails. First I want to talk a little bit about how to recognize that you have brittle nails. A lot of times people with this nail type will think,

 "My nails are so strong, why do they keep breaking?"

That's because brittle nails do usually appear to be hard and strong. They are typically thick and by all accounts seem to be the picture of a healthy nail...until they break. People with brittle nails will usually find that the corners or edges of their nails are always snapping off. It's best for them to be kept shorter and rounded to prevent this. But what's going to set brittle nails apart from stressed nails and other types is HOW they break. They should snap off cleanly, possibly even making a sound when they do so. 

Try this: choose a nail on your hand which is at least 1/4" past the free edge. Slowly -- SLOWLY push the corner up against a hard surface at an angle. If your nail has give --even a little--then you don't have brittle nails. If, however, your nail does not start to flex a little, then you'll be in this category. So what can you do?

That's going to depend on some factors. Brittle nails are topically caused by diet, outside additions of product, or medications. They can be genetic and people often see this happen as they get older but for the most part brittle nails have a definite cause. You don't have to know the cause to improve their health but know that if you're on a medication or you are genetically blessed with them that you won't be able to fully change them to normal nails. 

The first thing you should do is STOP ALL NAIL TREATMENTS. Seriously. Stop. Your biggest enemy is nail strengthener. These work to make nails stronger and what you want to do is make them more flexible. So if you're using a nail strengthener discontinue use immediately.  If your nails are square, adopt a more rounded shape for awhile to prevent corner breaks. You're in the lucky category of people who don't NEED to avoid water manicures (although I typically recommended that everyone avoid them as much as is possible) but do make sure to use a really great oil after your manicure followed by a thick, nutrient rich lotion. Since brittle nails are usually dry you'll want to avoid harsh soaps and detergents as much as is possible (so wear gloves when doing cleaning!) and a daily oil massage is imperative. I love to use CND Solar Oil and I find that it's great for keeping my nails strong and healthy but don't feel like you need to invest in a fancy or expensive oil. Jojoba, avocado and olive oil are cheap and wonderful for nails. You can do a paraffin dip once a week in the beginning OR if you'd rather you can do a hot oil treatment. All you need to do is remove all your polish, generously apply oil on your cuticles (optionally cover this with a moisture mask) and then put your hands in a bag or in cling wrap and cover with a heating pad or warm towels for about five minutes. Once the treatment is done you can cover hands with your lotion (I love this set from Zoya and also the CND almond lotion) and do a little massage. 

Remember to give any treatments 4-6 weeks to see results. Healthy nails start at the BASE of your nail not the tip and it can take a bit to grow out. ;) A great way to remember to oil nails daily is to make it a part of your routine. Keep it beside your bed and use it as you read at night, or pop a bottle near the shower and do a quick massage as you get out. It's a few minutes a day that will make a HUGE difference! :)

Rehab Your Nails: Peeling Nails



OK so hopefully last week you found out what your nail type is. Remember you can go between types so don't get TOO stuck on the type you currently have because unless it's caused by genetics or a medical condition it probably can be changed. Even if it is permanent you can still help improve your nails by following some simple care routines and avoiding your nails biggest enemies. Today we're talking about peeling nails and even though I wrote a blog about this recently that talks about ALL nail types, you can guess what's the worst thing for peeling nails. Water. In fact, overuse of water or oversaturation of the nails is often a huge cause of peeling nails. So if you're nails are in the peeling category the first thing I'd do is try to figure out ways to minimize the time your nails spend in water. This means waterless manicures (which we'll go into detail about in another blog!) and  gloves while you wash the dishes or clean (or maybe convince your housemates to clean up for you :P). Some people are not going to be able to avoid it. If you're in a profession where you need to wash your hands frequently or are dealing with aquatic animals or maybe even a stylist who is washing hair often, you're unlikely to be able to keep your hands out of water but where you can you should still minimize it. 

So what else can you do for peeling nails?


In the short term you can use a gel polish, even if it's just clear (you can layer other polishes over it if you want to!) to strengthen the layers. Be sure to brush the gel polish OVER the tip of the nail to help hold the layers together. You can also brush nail glue over the tips if you don't have access to gel but be aware that constant water will break down glue and gel so be sure to reapply as needed. The third option you have is a tip wrap but I tend to avoid adding things like that to nails that are already in a weakened state. If you do want to use a tip wrap, I recommend having it professionally done so you don't accidently cause more damage. This will help the layers that have already separated stay together as they grow off the nail plate. You'll also want to use a nail strengthener on your nails. OPI Nail Envy, Duri Rejuvacote, and Butter London Horse Power are all great options, if you want to avoid nasty ingredients choose Rejuvacote 2 or Butter London Horsepower which are free of formaldehyde. You can brush these on over the gel polish if needed, or just brush and cure the tips with gel and use the strengthener on the nail. Totally up to you! The other thing will be moisture. Your nails will need an oil massage everyday until they get stronger and every other day is a great option after the peeling has grown out. You can even do a little matrix massage (massage the base of your nail and the skin just at the base) to encourage growth while you massage the oil in. The extra oil will help nails grow strong and add flexibility. 


One of my favorite ways to give nails a quick pick me up is a paraffin dip. You can use a gentle exfoliator first, then add oil, then a moisture mask (I love this one from Zoya!) and then once the wax has been removed give your hands and cuticles a little massage. A paraffin dip is optional but especially in colder months it really gives your nails a nice boost! (Pro tip: Zoya also sells Smart Pod packs for pedicures and manicures. You get a soak, which you can skip for hands if your in the peeling category, a scrub, a mask, and a lotion for $9 ;P)

Thanks for reading along! Stay tuned to learn how to care for all the nail types! :)

Rehab Your Nails: Enemy Number One



Yesterday we talked about nail types and hopefully you were able to find yours because as I continue this series knowing your type will give you a lot of helpful information about getting them their healthiest.  Today I want to talk to you about one of your nails BIGGEST enemies; water. We don't typically think of water as being bad for us and many of us probably even use it for our regular manicures, but that's actually NOT the best idea. Why?

Well remember those layers we talked about yesterday?  You probably remember (especially if your nail type is peeling) me mentioning that your nail layers are held together with "adhesive".  Well those layers are constructed horizontally. So the water you soak your nails in makes it's way between those layers of adhesive holding your nail together and begins to break them down. Even worse, when you add soap to your manicure soak (or your sink while you wash those dishes!) you break down even more of those adhesives and oils that keep your nails healthy and strong. You probably notice how weak your nails are after you soak them and even though they do eventually go back to "normal" over time use of water breaks them down and depletes their health. People in professions where hands are washed frequently or where they're often in water more often than not will have short nails that peel or bend because of the constant breakdown of those oils and adhesives. 

One other way water in your manicure routine can be a bad thing is that it can shorten the wear time of your polish. When you soak your nail before you polish it your nail absorbs all that water. You'll likely notice they even change shape, becoming wider and flatter. That might make them easier to polish or make for a great picture but what happens when all that water evaporates and your nail returns to it's normal shape? That's right...the polish also moves and the stress weakens it and can even cause cracks and chips.  

So the moral of the story? The next time you do a manicure, skip the water! There are SO many products out there today that can dissolve and soften cuticles and if you're looking for a warm, relaxing spa treatment I highly recommend a paraffin bath. Not only do they keep skin soft but they'll also help strengthen your nails instead of breaking them down! I'll talk about some of my favorite waterless manicure products later in this series and give you some tips for how to keep your polish on longer, so keep checking back as the week goes on! ;P


Rehab your nails: what's my nail type?


If you're a long time follower of this blog then you'll probably remember that a few years back I had a two part series dedicated to getting to know your nails and taking care of them. Mostly it covered basic things like paraffin dips, nail wraps, choosing the right lotions and oils, and similar things. I even tested out some of the most popular nail strengtheners for you. Today I'm bringing the series back for a few short posts intended once again to help you embrace the nails you have and care for them in the most effective way.  You see...we're all different. Besides having different skin types and hair types, did you know that we all have different NAIL types? Most of us, myself included, can tell you if we have dry hair or oily hair. We know if our skin is combination skin or sensitive skin. But I bet most of you have no idea what your nail type is, and just like you'd buy specific skin care or hair care to meet your personal needs, you need to be thinking about your nail type when you choose products too.  Today we're going to discuss what those types are and how to identify which type you have. Next week I'll lay out some treatment plans for each type and teach you how to take care of YOUR nails. No matter what your type is!   Let's start with what the basic nail types are:

  • Normal Nails
  • Peeling/layering nails
  • Brittle Nails
  • Eggshell Nails
  • Lacy Nails
  • Stress Breaks
  • After -enhancement nails
Your nails may fall into multiple categories OR they may change between categories. If you've recently stopped wearing acrylics, for example, you're probably in the after enhancements category. Six months from now, though, you may find your nails are in the brittle category or in the normal category again.  Each of these types presents it's own challenges and even though they seem obvious, often people are unsure what's really going on with their nails or they're making assumptions which are incorrect.  If your nails break easily, for example, you might choose a nail strengthener to try to help. But if your breakage is cased by stress then your strengthener can actually be making them WORSE.

So which type is yours?  Well let's go through them, shall we?

Normal Nails:  A normal nail will be the most common type of nail.  They should be strong but also flexible so they're able to withstand normal traumas. The edges will be white and uniform and the nail bed should be healthy and not discolored. Normal nails can still break and be weak but they shouldn't snap or bend excessively. 

Peeling/layered nails:  Peeling nails or layered nails are pretty obvious. These nails will be thin and weak and peel at the tips or edges. This can be caused by product or genetics and happens when the nail loses it's natural adhesive and the layers begin to separate and peel off. Short term peeling is usually due to a trauma, a product, or poor nutrition. Long term or chronic peeling is likely to be genetic. Remember that nails can change as we age too, so don't assume that it can't happen later in life and still be genetics!

Brittle Nails:  Brittle nails seem strong but will break with very little pressure. The nail does not flex and will crack off in a chunk. You may even hear a snapping sound when your nail breaks. If your corners chip off frequently you may be in this category. Breaks should be clean with brittle nails since there is little to no give in the nail.

Eggshell Nails: Eggshell nails are likely to be genetic. These nails are very thin and weak and almost appear to be flat from the side.  They will bend with very little effort and often appear to curl forward as they come off the free edge.

Lacy Nails: Lacy nails are also weak and tear easily. The free edge will be extremely thin and areas of it will appear translucent, hence the name, lacy. They snag clothing and are difficult to grow to any length at all.

Stress Breaks:  These nails will seem to be VERY strong. They are thick and healthy but tend to break on the sides or at stress points. Unlike brittle nails, which we discussed above, these nails will not break off in chunks at the tip but rather, will tear at the sides as they grow, sometimes below the free edge.

After-enhancement nails: These nails are any nails that have recently had enhancements removed. That could mean acrylics, gels, or even gel polish. They are going to be varying degrees of healthy since enhancements can be damaging in different ways. They may feel thin, the beds may be inflamed and in severe cases they may have rings or divots if a drill was improperly used by a tech for removal or application of the enhancement. 


So did you find your type? Were you surprised by what it is? Maybe you've even been in a few categories over the years.  Later on we'll be talking about what your type means and how to care for it without further damaging it! :)


Swatch of the Day Round Up Week Three


It's time for the weekly Swatch of the Day round up! This week I managed to stick to all China Glaze and even mostly stuck to the Capitol Colors collection. Overall though, the swatch of the day isn't about swatching specific colors or collections and I don't want to get too stuck into doing it that way but this one was just too gorgeous to not. Here we go with the colors!


 Monday I showed you another from The Giver collection. This one is Five Rules. It's a grungy grey reminiscent of OPI Skull and Glossbones. I think S&G has a little more of a greenish lean to it but I haven't swatched them side by side yet. Based solely on memory and online swatches from other bloggers I think they're pretty close!


Tuesday I went with this bright pastel magenta from the Electropop collection. This one is Sweet Hook. It's a purple/pink pastel with a bright punch to it. I loved this collection too. It was so vibrant but not super in your face. 


I went back to the Capitol Colors on Wednesday and showed you Dress Me Up. Meant to be a nod to the textile district from The Hunger Games, this one is a nice dusty rose color. It's pretty unique even if it's not spectacularly exciting and it looks great on my skin tone. I had forgotten how much I like this one!


Thursday we kept going with the Capitol Colors and I swatched Hook and Line. This is my absolute least favorite in the collection. I HATE frosty finishes on polish and they can be so finicky and streaky looking. I actually think they aren't THAT bad but the pearly streaks just look unfinished to me. I never liked this one for the district either. I mean sure it looks a little like a gross fish but I'd have loved to see something more blue toned for this district.


Friday I showed you Agro, which is a gorgeous shimmery olive green. This one has a very metallic type finish to it and it's ridiculously sparkly and shimmery. When you matte it you get a very velvety metallic finish. 


And finally on Saturday I swatched another metallic, shimmery Capitol Colors polish; Harvest Moon. I had to laugh a little when I picked this one up because I got Harvest Moon: Light Of Hope for my Switch for Christmas. I don't get a ton of time to play games but I've been squeezing it into my free time recently and it's tons of fun. So that's all I could think about when I swatched this! At any rate its a coppery foil polish and even though I don't typically dig orangey ones this one is another real stunner in person. 

I hope you enjoyed all the swatches this week! Which one was your favorite?

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