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Seven simple ways to keep nails strong and healthy in winter

By Katie Wright
Do you dream of having perfectly-manicured hands all year round, but find that as soon as there’s even a hint of chill in the air, your nails start to chip and flake?

“With the change in weather, the winter season can be harsh on nails,” says Lynn Gray, nail expert from Mavala. “The exposure to cold weather can cause nails to dry out and become brittle.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By looking after your hands during the colder months, you can keep your talons in tip-top condition.

Here, our experts set out seven easy ways to make sure your nails stay long and strong…

1. Give you nails a breather
“Nail varnish applied continuously is not great for the nails, because a lot of varnishes contain a number of toxic chemicals,” says Dr Bharti Rajput, nail expert for Flexitol, who warns: “There are usually between three to eight chemicals in every nail polish that are not good for your nails,” – these include formaldehyde, which is used as a hardening agent.

“But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear nail polish, because there are a lot of good brands out there which are now catching onto this,” she says, just make sure your nails go au naturel every so often: “Wearing nail varnish all the time tends to limit any exposure to good UV light that would be nourishing to our nails.”

2. Use acetone-free nail polish remover
When you are ready to give your nails a break from varnish, be sure to use an acetone-free remover.
“Remover which contains acetone can be harsh on the nails and cause them to dry out,” says Gray. “Instead, a remover which is acetone-free is gentler on the nails and helps to prevent peeling and breakage.”

3. Care for your cuticles
“Invest in a good cuticle oil and use this regularly,” says Daisy Kalnina, founder and CEO of The GelBottle Inc and Peacci.

“With the cold weather, nails need to be kept hydrated, just like our skin – the oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and provide a moisture boost,” says Gray, advising daily application to give the best results. “Not only will the cuticle area look and feel better, but the massage movement will help stimulate nail growth, bringing blood and nutrients to maintain healthy nails.”

4. Hydrate your hands
“What we often forget is that our nail plates are even more prone to dehydration over winter months,” says Kalnina. “This is why we’ll tend to see peeling, splitting nails or fray edges.”

It’s a problem that can be exacerbated by frequent applications of hand sanitiser, so follow up with moisturiser and treat yourself to a weekly hand at-home treatment mask.

Kalnina says: “I keep a hand cream with me when I’m on the go. Investing in a good mask for hands and feet also adds extra protection for nails.”

5. Use a nail strengthener
Fan of Shellac manicures? Then you’ve probably noticed how weak your nails are when the gel polish has been removed.

“You should use a keratin nail hardener, which will penetrate into the nail plate and bond the layers together,” Gray recommends. “Over a short time, this will help to strengthen the nails, helping them to stay strong without breaking.”

6. Be gentle with your nail file
“To lessen the risk of nails breaking during winter months, it is better to keep nails at a reasonable length,” Gray says, but it’s important not to be too heavy-handed. “Use long sweeping strokes from side to centre, then the other side to centre, to lightly shape the nails. Avoid filing deep into the corners, as this tends to weaken the nails.”

7. Wear gloves
One easy to way counteract cold weather? With a nice warm pair of gloves.

“Nails will become brittle and dried out when exposed to the cold, so where possible, wear gloves outdoors,” says Gray. She also recommends popping on a pair of Marigolds when you’re doing chores: “Over-exposure to water can also have a negative effect on nails, so wearing rubber gloves when cleaning or washing-up, will help to protect nails.”

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