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Signs you need nail rehab ASAP, plus what the spots, ridges and lines really mean

9 October 2018

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand

Addicted to salon polish or tips but nails looking raggedy when the colour comes off? It’s time for rehab!

Acrylics don’t ruin your nails, bad nail technicians do.” That’s according to nail expert and owner of Auckland nail salon Verdo, Amber McIver, who says gel polish gets a bad rap for causing fragile, flaky nail beds.

“Overzealous nail prep will cause damage. Both acrylic and gel polishes can leave nails a little dehydrated. However, it’s more prominent for those of us who suffer from a little more dehydration than others.”

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So how do you prevent them from looking all dry and withered when the colour comes off? Firstly, don’t let the manicurist rough up your natural nail bed under the guise of making the gel adhere better. Also, never pick off your acrylic or gel polish, warns Amber. “This will take layers off with it, causing your nails to weaken.” Instead, soak them to encourage colour to lift off gently.

“don’t let the manicurist rough up your natural nail bed under the guise of making the gel adhere better”

The good news is, like hair, nails replenish constantly. To rehab damaged ones, Amber recommends a good gentle manicure (home or salon) after colour comes off, and applying cuticle oil religiously — think in your car, at your desk and before bed. “Caring for nails is the best way to get your gel polish to last, and to maintain natural nail health. Applying oil is the best thing you can do, as it promotes strength and flexibility. I also take a silica supplement, however, this isn’t a quick fix — it’s an investment of time to get your silica levels to a therapeutic level in your system, where you see results.”

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Don’t feel you need to go nude, either. “Your nails don’t need to ‘breathe’, this is an old wives’ tale,” confirms Amber. Just make sure you use a good base coat to protect them before applying colour.

One more nail myth crushed for the road: “Tiny round white spots are a sign of dehydration, not a vitamin deficiency. Bigger ones with no consistency in shape and size tend to be nail bruises or injury to the nail bed. They will just grow out as your nail does. The lines on your nails are usually a telltale sign you’ve picked off your gel polish. This is where you have pulled off some of your nail with it, causing ridge-like lines on your nail plate.”

Words: Megan Bedford
Photos: Getty Images

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