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Advice on natural hand, foot and nail care. 

Here are some questions often asked by my clients. I hope you find the advice helpful, if you follow the pink links you'll be able to find out even more, plus you if you don't find what you are looking for you are always welcome to get in touch to ask me something yourself... just click here.

Can nails that flake or split be fixed?

The answer is usually YES and you'll be amazed by the results, it's possible to invisibly reinforce the Keratin structure that forms your nails from within! Far more effective than any nail strengtheners you may have tried, the unique UV gel based IBX delivers micro amounts of a special gel that bonds around your nail Keratin to stabilise it and help you increase your natural nail strength on the sneaky!

If you have a persistent split in a nail then you might need to consider a different option. These splits can be caused by damage to the Matrix of your nail... the part it actually grows from. The resulting weak point in the nail will not become apparent until it grows out to the tip... where it then splits. In this case overlays will help keep things together.

Deep nail ridges and splitting can be a sign of an Iron or Vitamin B12 deficiency, also an underactive thyroid can be the underlying cause. It might be worth getting checked out for these issues.

In all cases you should consider investing in a good quality cuticle oil. Check the ingredients and look out for Jojoba oil in particular, this is the best as it has a very tiny molecular structure and can easily penetrate into your nails to hydrate and protect them. Avoid anything that contains Mineral oil because that won't do the job.

Use your oil at least three times a day, apply it to cuticle and nail, including the underside of the nail. Keeping your nails hydrated is crucial; water will strip your nails of natural lipid hydration making them dry and brittle but the oil will replace it and also help to repel the pesky water. Even so, using gloves to do washing up and cleaning will be a good plan too!

I want to grow my nails but they always break. What can I do?

For some the problem is that their nails are thin and bendy with little resilience against day to day wear and tear. This type of nail problem needs some reinforcement, but ideally something that has the ability to flex a little too. My suggestion would be to try a gel polish that has a Rubber basecoat. The word 'Rubber' simply describes the flexibility of the base, it's not an actual ingredient! Also it can be more successful to keep the nail enhancements thin rather than build up bulk that would be less likely to cope with the nails bending, if the gel is too rigid it will be more likely to lift or chip.

If this doesn't work another option would be to build the gel polish up with a lot of bulk using Builder gel but this can look heavy and not so attractive. In this case it might be worth considering a hard gel that can provide a high level of resistance with less bulk.

 

Another very common problem is that as we age nails can become dry and brittle and the tips tend to break easily, bending is less of a problem here so I would recommend trying a gel polish with a Builder base as a first option. You need to take good care of them and keep them maintained in good condition because that way the enhancements can be infilled and reshaped which means no soak-off is carried out. Soak-off solutions dehydrate nails so are best avoided as much as possible. 

For generally weak nails and for those who don't want to wear enhancements, the slow-and-steady route of regular IBX applications should help you to grow some extra length.

Hard-working hands may need robust support. In this case Hard gels or Acry-gels such as Polytek are going to be the better choice. These options are non-soak products and also need regular maintenance with infills.

With the right support you should be able to grow your nails longer without losing nail condition.

I bite my nails, can they be sorted out?

I've seen a lot of success with the use of full cover gel nail extensions. I apply them to your nails using gel polish base coat and do my best to make sure the back of the enhancements are tailored to sit flush with your cuticle area to remove any temptation to find an edge for a nibble.

 

As the nails grow I add gel to the back of the enhancements so there is always maximum coverage and adhesion. For a short while this might need to be done between one and two weeks but as your nails grow we should be able to increase the time between visits to the usual two to three weeks. When your natural nails have grown past your fingertips we can remove the gel extensions and switch to overlays and continue back-filling as before. 

My heels are callused, no matter what I try  they never go. Is there something to fix this?

There are a number of things that can be done here. A plan of action for severely callused heels would be as follows;

Callus remover - not my favourite option but a good way to get a head-start on the problem. Professional callus removers are more potent than products sold for home use. Be aware that these use harsh chemicals to get the job done. The active ingredient is applied to the callus for a set amount of time to eat into it and then the dissolved dead tissue can be removed.  The issue with this as a stand alone treatment is that the same chemical will also dehydrate the newly exposed underlying skin tissue.. drying it out to form new layers of callus. This means that without ultimate TLC your heels will be back to square one in short time.... therefore I only recommend this to be done once and follow it up with daily moisturising.

A different approach to the problem is to use exfoliating products that are natural, gentle and ADD moisture to the heels and soles. I favour Footlogix products for this. Callus softener that is moisturising rather than dehydrating, manual exfoliation where needed with follow-up targeted moisturing. This is a much gentler way of doing things which may take longer to get dramatic results but they will be longer lasting. 

Above all, moisturise daily! I am happy to purchase Footlogix products for you to take home. Also, something in another range worth noting that you can purchase online is KERASAL Intensive Foot Repair Ointment. It contains 10% Urea to soften and moisturise but it also contains Salicylic Acid to exfoliate dead skin cells. I use this on my dry cuticles and the results are pretty impressive.

Finally... ditch the flip flops and fit-flops. The worst calluses I see are on those who favour these types of footwear. They seem to wreak havoc on your heels and the soles of your feet!

Can supplements help me grow my nails stronger?

BIOTIN.

Also called Vitamin H or Vitamin B7. This has been found to be beneficial to healthy nail growth in a recent study with 91% participants reporting improvement in their nail condition. Also apparently great for hair growth but be sure to research your supplier and the purity and strength of their product.

Biotin enables the creation of certain Amino Acids in the body that are ultimately crucial to the production of Keratin, which is what your nails are made of. Look for a dose of between 5000 and 10000mcg with good bioavailability.

Natural Biotin can be found in eggs yolks, legumes, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, mushrooms, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, liver & kidney, salmon, avocado, whole grains, bananas and nutritional yeast.

Raw is best as heat reduces natural Biotin content.

CYNATINE HNS

Sounds like a deadly poison! In plain English it's a soluble Keratin protein that your body is much more able to absorb than other Keratin based products. In a 90 day clinical trial it produced measurable improvement to hair and nails. Foods that are protein rich can help to boost natural Keratin production. 

The best quality supplements of the above will be expensive - but on a positive note your hair, skin, digestive system, liver function, metabolism, cognitive function, cholesterol balance, wound healing ability, cell growth and natural resistance to inflammation will thank you!

Let us not forget the basics;

IRON ensures adequate blood oxygenation to nail growth cells.

ZINC supports the reproduction of cells that produce Keratin.

VITAMIN C helps with the formation of those cells.

VITAMIN A plays a part in the development of those cells.

L-CYSTEINE is an Amino Acid central to the process of creating Keratin.

Adding these foods into your diet will ensure you are making the most of these:

Eggs, salmon, sweet potato, sunflower seeds and beef liver show up again in this list but let's add onions (raw is best), garlic, kale, carrots and mango.

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