Nail Hydration: What, Why, and How to Do It?

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Beautiful nails are always a work in progress. Much like your skin, your nails go through many phases.

During cooler months, you might experience waves of dryness that can be quickly resolved with increasing hydration. Nail hydration can happen both inside and outside the body.

Take a look at this overview of the why’s and how’s of nail hydration.

How to Hydrate Nails

When you get a manicure, it’s usually finished off with a quick rub of oil over your cuticles to keep your nail beds healthy between treatments. This act helps protect your cuticles from potential infection if they’ve been cut back farther than usual.

But cuticle oil is a great start to hydrating your nails. Nails absorb the oil applied to provide you with an instant boost of moisture.

The trouble with cuticle oil is that it tends to be single-minded. It’ll focus on keeping your cuticles soft but won’t necessarily penetrate deep within your nailbed.

To properly hydrate your nails, you’ll need deep penetration techniques. Here are a few strategies to help you upgrade your nail hydration routine.

Creams and Salves

When you apply lotion to your hands, you have to be intentional to ensure you hydrate your nails as well. Your nails need a combination of massage and circular stimulation to ensure a cream properly penetrates the nail bed.

Be sure to use creams on both hands and feet before you need to put your socks on. One of the biggest issues with moisturizing your nails is rubbing off the moisture before it has a chance to set in.

You’ll need to spend at least a minute rubbing in your creams to ensure proper penetration. Wait a minimum of five minutes before putting on socks or shoes.

Soak in Oil

Another great way to hydrate your nails is to soak them in oil. You don’t necessarily need a cuticle oil for soaking but these oils already have a blend that supports nail care.

Try soaking your nails in oil at least once per month to help reduce brittle cracks or peeling skin. If your nails are damaged, it might be a good idea to reduce the soaking time to 5 minutes or less.

You don’t want the nails to get softer after sitting in oil for a prolonged period of time. Yes, your nails will be more hydrated but they’ll also be more subject to breakage. 

To soak properly, fill a small bowl with one-quarter cup of cuticle oil and one-quarter cup of water. Rest your fingertips inside the bowl until your timer goes off.

Once you’re done soaking, wash your hands with a gentle soap. 

Increase Water Intake

Your skin and fingernails both need hydration from water. Make sure you’re drinking at least two liters of filtered water each day.

Many people recommend adding vitamin C in the form of lemon or lime wedges to increase absorption. But you can benefit from simply increasing your water intake if it’s not practical to add ingredients to your water throughout the day.

Try drinking room temperature water as it’s much easier for the body to digest than cold water. 

Dangers of Dry Nails

Dry, brittle nails can lead to much larger health issues. Doing things like breaking or allowing nails to peel beyond a safe level could lead to serious infection.

Moisturized nails lessen the chances that your nails will split or become unhealthy. Nail hydration alone won’t keep your nails in top shape. Here are a few things you should do to protect your nails on a daily basis.

Upgrade Your Nail Polish Remover

Acetone works great in science experiments. Try adding a styrofoam plate to a cup of acetone-based nail polish and watch it dissolve into putty.

But this isn’t the kind of chemical that should come anywhere near your skin, let alone your delicate nail beds. Upgrade your nail polish remover to include a blend free of acetone. 

Yes, it does mean taking longer to remove nail polish but you’ll avoid the risks associated with putting corrosives on your body. 

Clean with Gloved Hands

You might think it fancy to wash dishes or clean the house with gloves. But many household cleaners include ingredients that can dissolve the top layers of your skin.

There are warning labels all across cleaning products that ask you to limit contact with the skin. Make sure you keep quality gloves on hand to protect your nails and hands while cleaning. 

Use Mild Soap

Hand soaps aren’t all the same. Some soaps are far too abrasive to be used throughout the day.

Opt for a mild hand soap to keep your nails properly hydrated. Keep lotion next to your handwashing station to replace any moisture stripped away during the hand washing process. 

Don’t Take Hot Baths

When the water in your bath or shower is too hot, it dries out your skin. Try to keep the temperature between lukewarm and hot during your baths. 

Moisturize your skin and nails as soon as you get out of the shower to get the most out of your hydration routine. 

Hydrating Nail Polish

Never use nail polish with formaldehyde. It’s not common in nail polish ingredients, but it’s always a good idea to check to ensure proper skin safety.

How to Improve Nail Hydration

Nail hydration is easy to improve when you have a regular skincare routine. Make sure you’re treating your nails to lotion daily after you wash your hands.

Plan to soak your nails once each month to give your cuticles a little extra love. You’ll see cracks and splitting reduce if you keep up the routine over time.

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