Nailing down taking care of yourself!

Let’s start 2012 with more of caring for yourself! We’ll start with your finger nails ( and hope that your will be kind enough to yourself to include your toenails! ).

To understand how to take care of your nails, it helps to know what a nail is. Finger nails and toe nails both are composed of a nail bed and a nail plate. The nail bed is the soft area of skin beneath the nail plate, which is the hard surface of the nail. Cells at the bottom of the nail bed make up the nail matrix and produce layers of a protein called keratin — keratin builds the nail plate and anchors it to the nail bed.
Nails grow at an average rate of about 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) per day or 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2 to 3 millimeters) a month , pretty slow in my opinion!

Seeing your nail technician regularly can help keep your nails healthy and beautiful. Your nail technician can give you advice on things to do at home in between manicures to help you care for your nails and keep them growing and strong. When you are taking care of your fingernails it will contribute to taking care if your hands too.

It’s amazing how good having healthy nails and well manicured nails can make you feel. Not only that, people look at your hands and your hands can say a lot about you. That being said, beautiful, well cared for hands and nails do contribute to your “total image”.

I have a friend who always asked me why I took the time to paint my nails and go to the salon when they ( the nails ) would just get messed up and broken at work. At the time we both worked at a job that was very hard on our hands and nails. I told her she should give it a try and she would discover why in a very short time.
Thus I introduced her to the pleasures of having pretty though hard working hands. I taught her that taking care of her hands and nails gave her a more positive feeling at work and also when not at work and it after she tried it, it proved to her how much confidence it can give you when you have well manicured nails.

There is so much value in the small things we do for ourselves and for me taking care of my hands and nails and getting a manicure was both relaxing and reviving. I appreciated seeing my hands in the best condition possible and I was “perked up” with the pretty colors and designs I could get. If you think about it, your hands are one of the parts of you that are constantly visible to you! Even babies enjoy watching their own hands, our hands and the hands of others! So, if you see your hands as tired and worn and unhealthy, what do you think that is going to project to your subconscious and self image? I don’t imagine it will be positive and inspirational, do you? Not much different really than looking in the mirror and seeing a tired, worn, unhealthy reflection there either. Our hands are in front of us each and every day and night. Our hands can represent so much to others and certainly to ourselves as well.
I learned that having pretty, well cared for nails and hands affected so many aspects of my daily life, my work, my relationships and my overall health. I know that taking care of my hands and nails is a benefit that I should not neglect. My friend now goes to the salon even more than I do and she loves it! She tells me constantly how much it has helped her overall attitude and she can’t believe that such a little thing can make such a big difference to her!
As stated in a previous post, I feel that people should take care of themselves and that it benefits those around us as well. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s selfish, it’s not, it’s just sensible and beneficial to our overall health and happiness to take proper care of ourselves. 

Healthy fingernails are smooth, without pits, indentations or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Sometimes fingernails can develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges tend to become more prominent with age. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail. When I was a young girl we used to say that for each one of those little white marks you got on your nails you had a secret admirer! We checked regularly!

More seriously, your nails can also be a significant indicator of your health. Although typically, they’re not the first symptom you notice when you’ve got something going on but unhealthy nails can signal serious health problems.
Possible signs of an underlying health problem: White nails, Yellow nails, pitting, dark lines on the nail bed, a dark band at the tip of each nail, indentations across the nail, clubbing ( tips of the fingers enlarge and the nail grows down around them ) or spoon nails. Separation that happens without an injury can be a fungus or sometimes it can be caused by a drug or chemical, even some nail products ( this is a good reason to ask your nail technician to help you choose products safe for you and your nails ).
If you have any nail discoloration or abnormal nail growth or damage it would be prudent to talk to your doctor about it. Your nail technician can help you care for your nails but they are not there to diagnose or treat health problems so don’t ask them to or expect them to. ( The Mayo Clinic has a great website that also has photographs of these conditions to help you determine if you may need to seek medical help ).

Although unsanitary, nail biting isn’t likely to cause long-term nail damage. Nail biting isn’t without risks, however. It can contribute to skin infections, aggravate existing conditions of the nail bed and even increase the risk of colds and other infections by encouraging the spread of germs from the nails and fingers to the lips and mouth. Compulsive nail biting can be a sign of an underlying mental health condition, such as anxiety or an impulse control disorder.
There are things you can do to try and alleviate nail biting. Of course you can try to notice what triggers the nail biting and try to avoid those situations, such as boredom or anxiety or stress. Keeping your nails neatly trimmed or manicured and seeing your nail technician regularly can help too. An alternate activity  such as simply chewing gum can possibly help. To prevent nail biting, try having your nail technician apply acrylic nails. Nail biters have a hard time gnawing through tough (and pretty) acrylic nails.

One of the biggest things to do for the care of your nails is to keep your fingernails dry and clean. Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to poor condition. If you can, wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
You can also prevent nail damage if don’t use your fingernails as tools to pick, poke or pry things.

When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too. Avoid harsh nail care products and see your nail technician for care regularly.

On to the subject of acrylic nails. You might ask, are they safe for my nails? Well, yes, they generally are safe if properly applied and taken care of. The biggest risk is that of infection. Sometimes a gap can develop between the acrylic nail and the natural nail. As an example, if the acrylic nail is bumped or jarred, it may separate from the natural nail. This gap provides a moist, warm environment in which bacteria and fungi can grow. An infection may also occur if an acrylic nail is left in place for prolonged periods. ( Rarely, a person can have an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) to components of acrylic nails or the adhesives used to apply them. )

Our nails require us to eat a good diet as does the rest of our body. For healthy hair and nails we need protein, calcium, and B vitamins. Vitamin B is needed for strengthening of hair and nails, while vitamin B12 also strengthens while promoting normal nail growth and healthy coloring. Vitamin C is another necessary vitamin for our health. Adequate intake can help prevent hang nails and swelling of nail tissue. A result of iron or zinc deficiency can be the occurrence of white lines on our nails. Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails. In addition, omega-3 essential fats provide the fatty acids your nails need to stay strong and prevent splitting.

Here’s an important fact: Men get manicures too! The process is the same, shaping, cuticle cleaning and  nail buffing. Many men opt for no polish, while others ask for a clear matte polish or buffing until the nail shines. One manicurist when asked said that men most often get manicures because they like to look well-groomed. Once men are hooked on manicures, she said, they visit more often than women.

Not everyone sees the point of sitting in a salon and devoting an hour or so to their nails, but you and I know it’s worth it for our self esteem, our health, our “total image” and frankly for our pleasure!
Whether you wear them short and unpolished or use them to express your personality by adorning them with color and jewels, your nails and their health are important, so don’t neglect them or yourself!

The nail tech/manicurist at Total Image Design is Ginger. Give her a call for your next manicure, you’ll be glad you did!

( 719 ) 964-7718