How to Do a Nail Detox for Healthier Nails

March 23, 2020
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary
Don’t get us wrong, we love getting our nails done, but constantly getting either an acrylic, gel or even regular manicure can cause our nails to become weak and brittle after a while. If your fingernails are in serious need of some TLC, now is the perfect time for a nail detox. (Consider it a silver lining of not being able to go to the salon for your manicure appointment thanks to social distancing.) Here to help us on the nail road to recovery are three experts — NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Bruce Katz, LA-based cosmetologist Linda Tran of Zenii Skin & Nails and nail expert Kait Mosh. Ahead, we break down exactly how to detox your nails in just ten days.

STEP 1: Remove and Replenish
First thing’s first, time to remove that chipped and flaking polish. 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. After removing your polish, 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. 

STEP 2: 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 Olive & June Cuticle Serum 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 protective barrier around your hands and nails while you sleep.
 

 

 

STEP 3: Apply an 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. 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 ten days.
 
STEP 4: Protect Your Progress
Now that your nails are on the path to recovery, it’s important to steer clear of stripping agents. “Keep hands out of water as much as possible. When doing dishes, gardening and other similar activities, use gloves!” says Kait. “As we manicurists like to say: Treat your nails like jewels, not tools.” Note: You should still practice good hand-washing hygiene!
 
TLDR? Here’s What to Do
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 whenever possible, 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. Do this for ten days.
 
It’s been a long journey (or so it seemed!), but now your nails are strong and ready for a treat — your favorite polish. Be sure to use a quality base and top coat like Essie All in One Base Top Coat and integrate the nail-care challenge into your routine every so often to keep those nails strong.
 
Photo: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Design: Hannah Packer