How to have happy nails.
A few readers made the interesting assumption after reading this article that I don’t paint my toenails. Um, no.
I love painting my nails.
It feels like a way to zone out and relax (reminding me of meditation), and I’m not the kind of lady who sticks to neutral, ordinary colors either.
I donned black polish with huge silver glitter to my husband’s holiday festivities at work. I love blue and green and likely any other color you can think of.
Still, I do love my bare nails.
They feel natural and beautiful and feminine and I absolutely adore practicing yoga with clean, fresh nails as a drishti point (both hands and feet).
Having shared that, when you switch back and forth between polish and no-polish, your nails can become dry or, worse, discolored. (And I’ve found this to be true even when using “natural” alternatives.)
Trust me, too, that I fully understand never caring if your toenails, especially, see the light of day—but it’s good for them and for you to let them breathe from time to time.
So if you’re feeling adventurous and ready to try a real experiment—and have bare piggies and fingertips—then try these tips.
1. Soak your nails in denture cleaner.
My husband will forever make fun of me for buying large quantities of denture cleaner—and I don’t care.
I’ve tried all of the other suggestions out there (like lemon juice, for one) and none of them work, not like this does.
Also, call me loopy, but I love the ones with tingly mint scents. Moving on.
Unfortunately, this won’t take away all of the discoloration—primarily if it’s from wearing polish without those aforementioned breathing breaks—but it will help whiten your nail tips and take some of the yellow out.
And it’s simple and quick.
I usually just fill my sink of with enough warm water to soak my fingers or toes in (thanks to yoga, it’s not a problem to stand on one leg with the other in the sink, but you could, of course, use a small dish). Then I drop one or two of the denture cleaner tablets in and let them dissolve. I typically only soak for three to five minutes or, honestly, as long as a song or two plays in the background.
2. Buff and shine.
This really does help make discoloration less obvious.
A buffer/shiner can be purchased almost anywhere, but consider that buffing—like the denture cleaner step—won’t take away severe yellowing—but it will help, and the shining step helps a lot as well.
3. Make your own cuticle oil.
This step is crucial.
I’ve used purchased cuticle oil (a few brands) and I much prefer my own.
While you don’t need to get fancy and you could simply just dab on olive oil, for example, I happen to personally enjoy making my own blend. (And I’m not someone who’s generally crafty, so keep that in mind.)
My favorite thing is to buy empty glass nail polish bottles. You can buy these either online (Amazon sells them) or have your local store order them for you. (Many retailers that sell base oils and essential oils also offer the containers needed for custom blends.)
I have several blends that I use, depending, frankly, on my mood, and I’ve never made one that I haven’t fallen in love with instantly.
I’ll share with you my current recipe of choice:
Fill the glass bottle with equal parts of apricot kernal oil, almond oil, argan oil, and tamanu oil.
Add 5 drops of rose essential oil.
Store in a cool, dark place.
Apply it with a dropper or, my preference, the nail brush that comes with the polish bottle; working the blend into the nail and surrounding skin.
Ideally, use your mixture once a day or more.
I definitely believe in never saying never, but at this point, I would say that I’m a happy flip-flopper between bare and painted nails—on the other hand, I just finished my daily yoga practice and it sure was fun to hang in my forward fold with naked toenails contentedly peeking back.
Photos: Author’s own.
This article was first published on elephant journal.