Personal Grooming: How to Grow Your Nails

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Ladies, let’s face it, seeing other dancers with beautifully long and manicured talons is both breathtaking and raging at once. Breathtaking because they give the fingers an extra length to work on for beautiful hands, raging because they are a terrible nightmare to maintain.

While some methods of solving the long nail/short nail problem are to make use of nail accessories available in today’s market, such acrylic and gel nails, another option is to grow them out naturally. However, for most of us, the longer the nails, the harder they are to maintain, and they’re easier to break once they reach past a certain length.

But fear not, growing nails does not need to be so distressful! With a few essential tips to remember and a little patience, you’ll be able to at least gain a few extra millimetres worth of natural nails.

How to Grow Your Nails: A Semi-Low Maintenance Guide

1. Keep nails at a squoval shape at all times. (Squoval is manicure term for a the nail shape that is a cross between “square” and “oval”.)

While there are other nail shapes that are popular in today’s manicure trends, squoval nails are the most practical shape while at the same time suits most people’s fingers and professions without going overboard in the shock factor. Also, because of the way squovals are shaped, they are the easiest to maintain without having to worry that they may break or snag (more on nail breakage reasons in tips 2 and 3).

2. Clip hangnails as soon as you see them.

Hangnails are the bane of long nails. Not only do they easily snag your clothes and stockings, they can also easily cause nail breakage as the snag pressure affects the rest of your nail, resulting in a possible loss of at least 2 weeks worth of hard work growing them. Be extra vigilant during the winter time (or if you have extremely dry hands) by clipping them off as the drier weather causes hangnails to appear more often.

3. File your nails once every 1-1.5 weeks.

Just as a bush needs to be maintained with a pair of shears to make sure its branches don’t grow wildly, filing your nails is just as essential when growing them out to keep them in shape. I find that fingernails have a funny way of growing like a Chinese fan, where the sides of the nails are not growing in a straight line, but rather, fanning outwards ever so slightly, looking like it’s got a tiny dent on the side of the nail. When this happens, as the nails grow longer, these fan dents will behave similar to hangnails, causing more stress to your nail with higher chances of breakage. The best way to combat this is to give the sides of your nails a few light files to smoothen them. (Be extra careful not to over file the sides as you do not want to damage the nail bed and cause nasty infections!)

4. Use nail strengthening polish.

Ever since I’ve started using OPI’s Original Nail Envy, I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in the condition of my nails, resulting in fewer breakages. It’s a product that I highly recommend, and while it’s slightly on the pricier side, the 15ml bottle lasts for a long time. Once you have gotten to the point where the nails are strong enough not to chip or bend, you can get away with only having to applying 2 coats of Nail Envy once a week or just before applying nail polish when doing a DIY manicure.

5. Determine your daily manageable length.

As much as keeping nails over 5mm past the fingertips is fanciful, maintaining hand functionality becomes harder as the nails get in the way of many actions. If you are not used to having long nails, try keeping them just slightly longer than you’re normally accustomed to for a while. For example, if you’re used to clipping them all off, try maintaining nails at a 0.5-1mm range for 3 weeks before attempting to grow them longer. Personally, maintaining nail length within the range of 3-4mm past the tips on average is manageable when going about my daily business and it is only at times when I know I have competition or performance when I let them grow up to within a 6mm range. Should they grow a little too long for your liking but don’t want to risk losing too much nail from clipping,  simply file them back to your desired length.

Here are some reference photos of my hand and nails in various angles during my daily life. Note that I’ve shaped the nails into squovals and maintained the edges to be straight (despite my somewhat dry skin at the time of taking these shots).
imageA moment of confession: I used to be an obsessive nail biter throughout my life until the time I discovered professional manicures back in late 2007. Learning to have better groomed hands has certainly killed my habit!

While there is always a chance of nail breakages at the most inopportune moments, knowing how to maintain them is the key to keeping a set of fully grown nails in your daily life.

Have you ever tried growing your nails? Tell us about your experiences in the comments! Share this with someone who’s struggling to have long and natural nails!

Image source: JustCurious

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