Always seeing yellow-stained nails post-manicure might leave you questioning: Is it time to take a break from nail polish? The short answer is no — at least if yellow is your only concern. According to Anastasiia Morozova, an educator at LeChat Nails, nail polish is not the problem — it is improper nail care that requires you to take a breather.
“Many people argue that nails need a break from polishes. However, when you treat your nails [to] a manicure, you don’t disturb the living cells of the nails … as they are located under the cuticle in the nail matrix, where they are supplied with blood-enriched oxygen,” explains Morozova. “The nail itself is dead cells composed of protein and keratin, and the nail plate does not ‘breathe’ the air — so it is possible to cover our nails with nail polish and not harm them,” she adds.
So unless you had high hopes of bare, naturally nude nails, sallow nails are nothing to panic over. Instead, yellow nails are a surefire sign that your nails are stained by the lacquer’s pigments, which can happen with darker shades. To combat this manicure woe, make it a habit to layer on a base coat before going full force with the plums, forest greens and other deep hues that might leave behind a stain. (Does your polish not require a base? The formula should protect from staining, however, it is better to be safe with a swipe of base coat than sorry.)
That being said, harsh ingredients such as toluene, formaldehyde and DBP in some nail polish formulas can cause your nails to become weak, which can turn your nails from long and strong to dry and prone to breakage.
But there are some situations that might require a break from nail polish.
Here is how to tell if you need a break from your manicurist:
If you have dry, brittle nails
From harsh nail polish chemicals to the removal process, we can be pretty rough on our nails. And, while they might seem like little shields of armor, our nails can fall victim to the wear and tear of our manicures. “If you notice your nails are dry and brittle or prone to breakage, taking a break to moisturize (see tips below) might be a good idea,” says Adina Mahalli, a hair and skincare expert at Maple Holistics.
If you have thin nails
“If your nails are thin to the point that you can bend them easily, it’s time to take a break from nail polish,” says Mahalli. And to help, add a natural nail strengthening polish, she says. However, traditional nail strengtheners “can sometimes do more harm than good” because of the harsh chemicals found in their formulas. Natural nail strengtheners, like Jason Purifying Tea Tree Nail Saver, are harder to come by but are your best option.
If you have white spots on your nails
“If you consistently wear nail polish, your nails may become susceptible to what’s known as keratin granulation,” Mahalli notes. Keratin granulation is caused by nail polish drying out the nail beds, which can lead to keratin clumping together and forming white spots or stains on your nails. “If this is the case, it’s time to take a break from polish for a while until your nails return to their normal color,” she adds. “Depending on how quickly your nails regenerate and the severity of the discoloration, your nails can take anywhere from one week to a few months to return to a healthy color,” she notes. “If the discoloration is particularly severe, you might have to wait until the nail fully grows out, which can take up to half a year.”
If your nails are peeling
Peeling nails can happen for a few reasons, but one of the main causes is dehydration. If you are experiencing peeling nails, Mahalli says to take a break from the polish and focus on moisturizing with cuticle oils like Jurlique Nail and Cuticle Treatment Oil. Peeling nails are also a sign of weak nails. Skipping a manicure or two — and using a nail strengthener instead — can allow them to regain their strength.
Here is how to treat your nail plate before dipping your brush in the paint again:
Moisturize with a natural oil
If you experience dry, brittle nails, it is probably a good idea to sit this #MondayMani out and use an oil, like vitamin E, to add moisture back to your nails, says Mahalli. “When using vitamin E oil for your nails, you can just apply the oil topically to each nail individually and rub it in. It won’t dissolve completely but just leaving it to soak in can strengthen your nails from within,” she says. “Vitamin E is rich in collagen, which means it can fortify your nails and its antioxidant properties can prevent them from further damage.” Similar to skincare, antioxidants can protect and help promote healthier-looking nails all around. If you do not have vitamin E oil on hand, Morozova says to reach for jojoba oil, as it “penetrates deeply and feeds the root of the nail directly, which affects the overall condition of the nail.”
In addition to using an oil, hand sheet masks might also benefit the nail bed. However, its effect “will largely depend on the ingredients used and how often you use the mask,” notes Mahalli. “The more natural ingredients the better as this really nourishes the nail,” she adds.
Avoid nail files
Filing the tips of your nails with a less abrasive file such as a fine-grit cushion file is OK, as long as you do so in a gentle manner. However, if you have a habit of filing the tops of your nails before applying nail polish, Morozova warns against filing the nail bed, as it can thin the nail plate and lead to a damaged nail bed.
Ditch the acetone
“Do not use clear acetone for dissolving the product from the nails as it makes the upper layers of natural nails very dry and they will begin to exfoliate,” says Morozova. Instead of exposing your nails to the harshness of acetone, reach for an acetone-free nail polish remover, which often uses hydrating ingredients like oils (soybean and vitamin E) to nourish and protect while lifting away nail lacquer. And remember, not all nail salons offer acetone-free polish remover. So, if you get your manicures professionally done, consider calling ahead to find out what they use or bring a small bottle of your own.
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