They’re the one simple thing that can say so much about us to the world, and one area that many of us still neglect. Our nails are so small in terms of the rest of our body but they can tell the outside world a lot about our beauty standards, personal style, and health and hygiene values.
The world of nail care far extends beyond just nail polish or trimming your nails, which is where so many of us tend to stop. There are countless accessories you can use to give your nails the perfect look that will also improve their health as well, and these days nail care isn’t just directed at women as men everywhere are benefiting from using nail care essentials, too.
This history of nail care has certainly come a long way, as it didn’t start out like we know it today with professional salons everywhere and professional quality accessories available to use at home.
Whether you like to follow the hottest trends in nail art and glossy colors or keep them natural and healthy looking, there’s sure to be a tool and tip out there that can help you achieve the best appearance possible for your nails.
While you’re sitting at the nail salon or filing away on your own nails at home, you probably don’t think back to where it all started. The history of the manicure actually began thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt and has adapted and evolved to the styles, colors, and types that we know and love today.
The very first form of nail care and manicures ever recorded occurred around 5000 – 3000 BC in Ancient Egypt where women used to dip their nails into henna. These dyed nails were seen as a status symbol and a show of wealth and style considered to have great sex appeal.
Moving forward a while to China’s Chou Dynasty around 600BC and both noblemen and women were known to sparkle gold and silver on their nails.
As we move into more modern times within the last century, we can see the modern manicure as we know it today start to emerge. Around the early 1900s, women had started to experiment with colors, piercings, and other nail art, matching their outfits to their nails and using them as a way to show off their personal style to the world.
In 1955, the fake nail was inadvertently invented by a dentist and his brother as they were trying to fix a broken fingernail with acrylic. From here on out, celebrities and everyday people alike were seen with dramatic, bold, and long nails, which has only continued to evolve with the changes in fashion.
The rise of the nail salon really began to take off in the 1990s, as women were happy to pay money to have their nails professionally done and receive pedicures and manicures regularly.
In the last 10 years or so, though, the range of home nail care products has exploded and there seems to be a trend now towards caring for your own nails to make the practice more personalized, safe, and affordable.
Nails are often overlooked and underappreciated by those who don’t understand the complex anatomy of them.
For anyone who cares about looking their best and giving their nails the treatment they deserve, though, it’s essential to learn a bit about a nail’s anatomy so that you can fully understand them.
This is where the new nail plate cells form and where your nail plate begins to form.
The front part of the matrix that we can actually see, the lunula looks like a bluish white or opaque area and can sometimes be shaped like a moon. Because this is the exposed part of the matrix, it can be sensitive and will bruise easily.
This area is commonly confused with the cuticle but it is actually living skin that can be found covering the matrix area.
The fold is another area that many people confuse with the cuticle, but this refers to the tight fold of skin found at the bottom of your nail. People often cut this thinking it’s their cuticle when it’s actually preventing your nail from getting infected and keeping dirt and bacteria out.
This is a thin area of dead nail tissue that sits on the nail plate, making a seal between the eponychium and the nail plate. This seal helps to prevent bacteria from entering and should only be removed by scraping and not cutting or pulling off.
The most popular area of the nail anatomy as this is where we apply our nail polish and file away to create the perfect shape, the nail plate is a hardened flat surface of nonliving keratin cells. The purpose of the plate is to protect the soft tissue underneath and the average person has about 50 layers of this nonliving keratin which makes up the plate.
This is the soft pink tissue underneath your nail plate but is often misunderstood and confused with the plate itself.
A soft tissue seal that sits underneath the free edge of the nail plate that extends beyond your finger. The purpose of the hyponychium is to stop bacteria and pathogens from entering the nail bed.
This is a group of tissue that sits behind the hyponychium and can be seen when looking at your nails. This is a darker band of tissue that begins right before the nail plate leaves the nail bed.
This is another type of cuticle found on your nail and its job is to also stop pathogens from entering and infecting your nail bed. The solehorn cuticle comes away from the underside of the hyponychium and attaches to the nail plate.
Although not visible the eye, your bones have a huge role in your nails. The bone supports the matrix and nail bed and actually determines the natural, curved shape of your nails.
You might not realize it, but learning a little more about the nail’s anatomy can help you take better care of them. If you’re seeing a professional manicurist you should choose one that understands the complexity of the nail so that they can work on these delicate parts of your body without doing any damage.
There are two key phrases you’ve probably heard of when talking about nail care, the manicure, and the pedicure.
Although these used to be considered something luxurious and for a special treat, everyday people now get regular pedicures and manicures to keep themselves well presented and their hands and feet in the healthiest state.
A manicure is a cosmetic treatment that focuses on the hands and nails. The purpose of a manicure is to clean your nails, treat and moisturize your hands, and buff, shape and trim your nails down to your desired size and style. Manicures can be done at home or at a nail salon or spa, and there are quite a few different styles available.
This is the most common type of manicure enjoyed by men and women, and the base for where all other manicures lead from. The process of a basic manicure involves soaking hands, removing polish, pushing back cuticles, trimming and filing nails, massaging and moisturizing hands, and then applying a polish if you choose.
Although somewhat similar to a basic manicure, the French manicure is defined by how the nail polish is painted on. The French manicure features a white tip with a pale pink or beige polish over the rest of the nail, resulting in a clean and healthy look.
These feature a special gel polish that has been designed not to chip or break, and won’t come off with regular nail polish. This type of manicure follows all of the same steps as a basic manicure but when the polish is applied it’s set under a UV light. When it’s time to take the polish off, this needs to be done at a salon.
Somewhat similar to the French manicure, this features a range of different colors and styles such as glitter to give a more dramatic look.
This has more of a healing and hydrating effect on your hands compared to manicures that focus on making your hands look better. The hands are soaked in paraffin wax so that it infuses them with moisture so that they can be smooth.
A stimulating massage is then done to aid circulation and give your hands a refreshing boost, followed by the standard steps for a manicure.
This style of manicure uses heated stones to provide your hands with extra comfort, and they are used while massaging your hands and arms. After the massage, a basic manicure follows and your nails are cleaned and trimmed.
Moving down to your feet, the pedicure is another popular cosmetic treatment that people indulge in. A pedicure focuses on your toenails, feet, and calves, and encompasses a wide range of treatments including exfoliating, massage, buffing, trimming, and more.
Once the process is done, you can follow up with the nail polish of your choice or leave them nude and natural.
Pedicures can do so much more than just add cosmetic appeal as they can be altered to focus on one or more key areas. A pedicure can remove callouses, dead skin, cuticles, ingrown toenails and more, but they’re also a great way to relax and unwind, whether you do them yourself or visit a nail salon for the experience.
There are a few different types of pedicures around, just the same as manicures, including:
The most common type of pedicure that features as few frills as possible, the classic pedicure works on smoothing out feet, providing a relaxing massage, and trimming and filing your nails.
Similar to a classic pedicure, this also uses a spa for you to soak your feet in and features other upgrades like hot towels, exfoliating scrubs, and ingrown toenail removal.
These are favored by athletes or those who do a lot of physical activity, and they incorporate the use of cooling aromatics like peppermint oil. This type of pedicure is ideal for people who have serious issues such as ingrown toenails and are great for both sexes.
Just like the paraffin manicure, these encapsulate your feet in paraffin wax for added moisture and hydration. Once done, it’s easier to remove the dead skin and callouses, followed by a restorative massage.
These are common in Asian countries and have you place your feet in a large tank. As they soak, small carp fish nibble away at callouses and dead skin to leave them restored and soft.
There’s no doubt that the number one reason people enjoy manicures and pedicures is that they make their feet look good, but there are actually a few other benefits that you can get from regularly treating yourself at home to this important nail care.
Our feet can be especially prone to picking up fungal infections, especially when they’re exposed to moist conditions. Keeping your feet clean with a pedicure can be one way to prevent it, and paying close attention to any changes in your feet mean that you’ll be able to get on top of fungal infections before they get any worse.
The best way to balance your mental health is to treat yourself to a relaxing manicure and pedicure, and even doing them at home can have the same effect.
Just spending half an hour doing something for yourself can have a huge impact on your mood and happiness, and the improvement in your self-confidence when you see how good your nails look will give you another boost.
Any good manicure or pedicure will feature an invigorating massage that can have great effects on your circulation. Manicures and pedicures can also relieve pressure on your extremities, improve blood flow, and help your body to distribute heat more evenly which can be particularly helpful during winter.
Every day, our hands are exposed to various grime, dirt, and bacteria, so spending a little time each week on pedicures and manicures can keep them clean and hygienic. These processes can remove dead skin cells that trap dirt and give you a fresh and clean surface to start the week with.
Our nails are an important part of our body as they’re there to support our fingers and keep them protected, so it’s no surprise that there are a number of issues and problems that can occur.
Nails on our feet and hands are exposed to a variety of things through the day that can damage them, lead to infection, and make them vulnerable, so it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the potential issues so you can get on top of them before they worsen.
Our nails can be prone to various fungal infections, and this is often made worse when we visit nail salons and spas as there’s a greater exposure to bacteria and fungi.
A fungal infection can get into your nail and make it discolored, weak, and brittle, and it can take years for the treatment to work. Due to the high rate of bacteria found in most nail salons, many people now prefer to do their own nail care at home to avoid the risk.
An ingrown toenail can be extremely painful and occurs when the corner of your nail grows into the skin beside it.
Sometimes, these can be caused by improper trimming so it’s always best to trim with a straight angle on the top of your toenail and then file the edges to make them into your desired shape. Remedies for ingrown toenails include removing or lifting the toenail if it’s gotten too ingrown.
These are common foot and hand issues that can easily be remedied by nail care, including pedicures and manicures. Usually occurring from abrasions or everyday use of our feet and hands, callouses and corns are rough patches of skin that can be filed away so that the dead skin is removed and new skin cells can emerge.
Chipped nails are an annoyance for those who take pride in how their hands looked, and a chip in your nail can occur whether you have natural nails or artificial ones. Usually, you can file down the chipped area and trim the rest of your nails to match their length, and it’s best to use a strengthening polish and keep them at a reasonable level to prevent it occurring in the future.
If you find that your nails regularly split on your hands or feet, this could be the sign of a number of other issues. Weak and brittle nails can be caused by everything from autoimmune disease to dietary issues, so anyone who suffers from them should be speaking with a medical professional to determine the possible cause.
Sometimes, nail discoloration can occur on the hands and feet of someone who uses too much nail polish without giving their nails a chance to breathe. A healthy nail should be pink and pale, so if you’re noticing yellow or darker nails then it could be an indication of a nail infection.
This can be extremely painful to deal with and it can happen from trauma or an accident which snagged your nail. The best thing to do for a lifted nail plate is to keep it bandaged and covered up, allowing it time to heal on its own.
If you’ve suffered from a lifted nail plate and regularly enjoy manicures, it’s wisest to let that particular nail heal before you do any buffing or trimming that could damage it further.
Taking care of your nails is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be a lot of hard work.
Although the nail salon boomed in popularity in recent years, people simply don’t have the time or money to spend there each week and so many men and women are now choosing to invest in a few key pieces of nail care equipment to do their own routine at home.
Here are the nail care essentials you’ll need to keep yourself looking great.
This is the most common instrument owned by almost everyone, regardless of how much other nail care you indulge in.
A nail clipper is a small stainless steel device that allows you to place the blades on the end of your nail and then push down to trim them off.
For the best results, it’s recommended that you trim in a straight line on the end of the nail so that you can avoid ingrown toes. Some nail clippers come with a metal file attached but it’s best to avoid this kind of abrasive material on your nails.
Some people confuse this with a nail clipper, however, a nail nipper is actually designed to work with ingrown nails and the loose bits of skin that you find around your nail. This looks like a small set of scissors but with a gripped handle to keep from slipping. As the skin and nails on your feet is generally tougher, many people prefer to use their nipper for pedicures only.
As we now know, cuticles require delicacy when working with them to ensure that we don’t cut them or do damage to them. A cuticle tool is the best way to get rid of them as it allows you to gently push back the skin and then scrape away the dead cells that are found on your nail. These are usually made of stainless steel and should only be used with a little bit of pressure.
For those with extra tough skin, corns, and callouses, you might need to invest in a peeling knife. These are small handheld instruments with a sharp blade on the end that allows you to peel away at dead skin without a fuss.
Commonly used in pedicures for those with more dead skin than usual, they painlessly remove the extra skin before moving onto the next stage of your pedicure.
There are a few different types of nail file available but all of them have the same purpose: to shape and fill back your nail and remove tears and sharp edges. Emery boards and metal nail files have been popular for years, however, many people are now looking to glass and crystal nail files for a smoother finish.
This is one part of your nail care essentials that will be completely dependent on your personal taste. Some people prefer to have a range of colors and styles of varnish where others will prefer transparent polishes made to strengthen nails or prevent you from biting them.
There’s no need to actually use nail polish after a pedicure or manicure, which is the option that most men go for.
There are literally thousands of unique ways that you can go that extra mile for your nails, and many that you’ll find passed down from friends, family, and manicurists along the way. We’ve compiled some of the best nail care tips and tricks for you to try out at home:
Gloves can be used a couple of ways in nail care, and both are equally important. Firstly, you should always wear gloves while you’re washing up or doing anything that involves a drying agent.
Secondly, before you go to bed you can lather up with a moisturizer, place the gloves on, and sleep with them. This offers complete hydration and you’ll wake up to new nails and hands in the morning.
Too many people ignore the cuticles or treat them improperly, but you’re never going to get a clear and clean surface with your manicure if you leave it out. Cuticles are the dead skin on your nails which can be scraped off with ease, leaving a smooth base to paint your nails.
We often forget how important sunscreen is for our hands as we focus on other areas, but our hands get quite a lot of exposure to harmful UV rays all through the day. Before you leave the house, apply a quick SPF30+ sunscreen to your hands to keep them and your nails healthy and strong.
The days of the tough emery board are over, with people now looking to crystal and nail files to help them shape their nail. These are affordable and durable, lasting well beyond a standard emery board and never losing their sharpness. A glass file is easier to use than a metal file and they can even double as a buffer to give your nails a glossy finish.
Although you might want the longest nails in the neighborhood, this usually means they’re the unhealthiest. To keep your nails strong, you’ll want to trim them once a week so that the thinner end of the nail doesn’t get too flimsy. These thinner and longer nails are more prone to chipping and breaking anyway, so you’ll have to cut them down to size eventually.
You probably don’t think that you have to be careful with the polishes and products that you’re putting on your nails, but some of them could be doing more harm than good.
According to the experts, we should be avoiding anything that contains formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. These ingredients are known to cause breakages and chipping, so you should avoid them completely.
There are a few things that you can eat that will help to strengthen your nails from the inside out, so if you feel that your nails can do with some toughness try adding them to your diet. Try supplements including vitamin E and fish oil and eating foods like nuts, beans, and fish.
With all of these tips and tricks around, you might start to wonder why it’s so important that we give so much attention to our nails. Sure, they make up such a small part of our bodies overall, but our nails the reason we need to give them regular loving is due to a few reasons.
Firstly, our nails are on show to the world at all times. You might not realize just how much action your hands get, but take note of it the next time you’re speaking with a coworker, buying something from the store, or even working out in the gym.
Our hands are always on display and when you have dirty nails, chipping nail polish, or fungal infections then you can come across as someone who doesn’t care about their appearance or health.
Another huge reason why nail care is so important is due to the all the health benefits it can offer us. As we’ve seen, our nails can be prone to a number of infections and diseases, so giving them extra attention can help us to stay on top of problems.
For many of us, we are even guilty of chewing on our nails or putting our fingers in our mouth without even thinking about it, so you don’t want something dirty and full of germs spreading bacteria to your mouth.
The best thing about nail care is that it doesn’t have to be a big process and it can easily be achieved in the comfort of your home. If you’re someone who feels uncomfortable at the nail salon or just don’t have the money to spend, you can invest in a couple of quality nail care essentials and spend a few minutes a week getting your hands and nails looking their best.
There’s quite a lot of misconception about the manicure and with so many different types around, people are unsure about how exactly you do them correctly.
The manicure can have quite a few steps to it, but the best thing about it is you can completely adapt it to whatever you want it to be. Here are a few tips on how to do a proper manicure at home:
If you’re planning on a full treatment of your nails, it’s best to lay out all of the nail care essentials including a bowl to soak your hands before you get started. This way you can stay in the one spot and give yourself a proper manicure without rummaging around finding bits and pieces.
Add to the process the time it takes to dry your nails, as many people try to get back on with their day and end up chipping or smudging the polish. There are some ways you can make it dry faster such as dipping your nails into cold water or using a quick dry polish, so if time is important then you might want to try these.
Always give your tools a quick look over before you use them as working with dull or faulty equipment can actually do more damage than good. Nails files need to be changed more regularly than other equipment but a good pair of stainless steel clippers should last for many years.
While it might be tempting to dig deep and remove callouses, ingrown nails, and cuticles, the best approach is a gentle one. Our skin and nails are very sensitive and you can do a lot of damage if you don’t take care with the process.
There are some people who always change their nail polish to suit the latest trends, and while it’s good to look stylish you need to give your nails a chance to breathe every now and then. Try to give it a week between each application of polish otherwise, you could end up with brittle and discolored nails.
Where once the manicure was seen as something feminine and luxurious, there are now many men who reap the benefits of regular nail care. The men’s manicure is one area that has certainly grown in recent years, with more and more males now not afraid to admit they enjoy a bit of pampering and like to be well presented.
When compared to the women’s manicure, there isn’t too much difference for how the men’s process goes. It’s essential to do keep nails short and clean, buff away any dead skin, and give them a relaxing massage if they choose, however, most men opt for no nail polish at the end.
It is common for a man to have a treatment applied that can help to strengthen their nails, but not a necessity. In general, a man’s manicure follows this process:
As some men are still unsure about stepping foot into a nail salon, it makes sense that they take charge of their own nail care at home. Without the need to purchase too many accessories, the average man can take care of their nails with just some trimmers, a cuticle tool, and a file to give them the masculine shape they desire.
All through history, there have been cases of men enjoying nail care, so there’s no reason that this day and age should be any different.
There’s no limit to who can benefit from caring for their nails; men and women, young and old, those with lavish lifestyles or people who prefer simpler lives. How you care for your nails can be a completely personal experience and it will depend on your comfort, style, and taste, so there are no hard and fast rules for how you have to take care of your nails.
With more and more reports of bacteria and fungi being found in public nail spas and the rising cost of having manicures and pedicures, there’s been no better time than now to invest in some quality and professional grade equipment for home.
This means you can treat yourself to some nail love whenever you feel the need, and make minor fixes and adjustment as required.
Our hands are the most used part of our body and they’re involved in just about everything we do in life, especially when we communicate with others. It’s essential to look well presented and healthy at all times, and that’s exactly what you can achieve when you take a little time to keep your nails in the best condition.
Looking back on all the nail trends of the past, there’s no telling what trends and styles we’ll see in the future, and how many modern trends like the male manicure will evolve. We’re certain that the world of nail care can only get bigger and better, though, and more people realize the huge impact that a well-manicured nail can have on your overall appearance and health.