Detox Challenge: How to Go From Short, Brittle Nails to Strong

As girly girls, we LOVE getting our nails done, but there are certain times where we take a look at our dolled-up nails and notice that they still need some serious TLC. If your fingernails are sadly peeling away like the layers of an onion, or if you’ve chewed them down to a stub, it’s time you join us in the Detox Challenge! As hard as it may be to take a break from the polish (we’re having withdrawals) your poor nails will be forever grateful. Here to help us on the nail road to recovery are three supreme experts — NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Bruce Katz, LA-based cosmetologist Linda Tran of Zenii Skin & Nails and our go-to gal pal, nail expert Kait Mosh. Follow along as we tell you all you need to know about getting your nails in tip-top shape in about 10 days!

nail detox
Remove and Replenish
First thing’s first, time to remove that chipped and flaking polish! What women may not realize is that many nail polish removers are acetone-based, which can dehydrate nails and cause them to be brittle. “The first thing I do is tell my patients to stop using acetone-based removers,” says Dr. Katz.

Now that your first step in the polish detox challenge is up, it’s time to soak! “Once your nails are clean, it’s time to restore moisture by soaking your fingers in warm water for 10-15 minutes every night,” says Dr. Katz Did you read that? EVERY night — 10 days, OK?! MDC Quick Tip: Add slices of lemon or a few drops of The Body Shop Sweet Lemon Beautifying Oil to the lukewarm water for extra hydration and brightening power!

Care for Those Cuticles
“A lot of us tend to forget this, but moisturizing our cuticles is extremely important to our nail health,” says Tran. Dry off hands after your daily soak and massage essie Apricot Cuticle Oil into your nails and around your cuticle area each day. Once the oil has fully absorbed, you need to seal in the moisture! “Apply a thick moisturizing cream to your nails and leave it on overnight — this will allow the moisturizer to get into the nail and keep it hydrated,” says Dr. Katz. We suggest using Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve to form a glove-like protective barrier around your hands and nails while you sleep.

Extra Strength Solution
By morning, your nails should be dry and refreshed. Give them a quick wash and in place of colored polish, you’ll be using a strengthening treatment. Don’t fret, friends — you can still achieve shine by using a clear nail strengthener, says Tran!

Apply essie Millionails to your nails, avoiding the cuticle area, every other day for one week. Once the week is up, remove the treatment with a non-acetone–based polish remover and start the regimen again! This is something you can definitely do for more than just 10 days.

Protect Your Progress.
Now that your nails are on the path to recovery, it’s more important than ever to steer clear of stripping agents. “Keep hands out of water as much as possible. When doing dishes, gardening, and similar activities — use gloves!!” says Kait. As we manicurists like to say: Treat your nails like jewels, not tools! Since this is something we’d prefer you do forever —instead of 10 days — may we suggest making him do all the cleaning?!

Remove any polish with an acetone-free remover and be sure to soak hands in lukewarm water each day. Apply a cuticle oil nightly and seal in moisture with a thick cream before bed! Keep hands out of water and according to Mosh, it’s also important to keep the edges of your nails smooth with a good file to help them grow long and strong (no snags here)! Do this for 10 days and then you can reward yourself!

Nail Polish Haven 
It’s been a long journey (or so it seemed!), but now your nails are strong and ready for a treat. Your favorite polish! Just be sure to use a quality base and top coat like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche NailPolish and integrate the nail care challenge into your routine every so often to keep those nails pretty!

How do you keep your nails strong and healthy? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: thinkstock

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