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Nail Polishes and Nail Strengtheners

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Are Your Nail Strengtheners and Polishes Hard on Your Nails?

I couldn’t help but notice her nails. Mine are weak and soft, so naturally I notice the hands of other women. Her nails were truly enviable. She didn’t have a scrap of nail polish on them.

No, these nails were a force of nature all on their own. Long and obviously hard, I commented on them with more than a tinge of envy. “Oh,” she said, positioning her hand in front of her, “I need to cut them.”

She looks them up and down as if a bit annoyed. “I’ve always had hard nails,” she said. “I guess I’m lucky that way.”

Lucky? Lady, you’re the envy of the free world! What woman with soft, weak nails wouldn’t make a deal with the devil to have nails like that?

Nails. They are in the same beauty category as hair and shoes. A must-have. And yet, the large majority of women don’t have, which is why we resort to acrylic or gel nails, nail strengtheners or nail hardeners.

And whether or not you have long nails, let’s face it. Some outfits aren't complete without nail polish.

Nail Hardeners: Good or Bad?

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From Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails to OPI’s Nail Envy, these companies promise us

hard nails. No matter if one product doesn’t work, those of us with weak, soft, brittle nails will try yet another nail hardening product. Why? Because maybe this one WILL work.

The problem is, even if these products do work on your nails, they aren’t solving the problem. In fact, they are creating more problems. Yes, that’s plural.

So, before you try yet another product for those dastardly weak nails, make an informed choice! Because nails companies aren’t going to tell you the whole truth.

As you’ve guessed, not all nail hardeners, strengtheners, and nail polishes are created equally. Some actually do more harm than good.

Let’s take a look.

Not All Nail Hardeners Are Safe

Good nail hardeners will contain proteins to encourage healthy nail growth. These proteins react with the natural protein in your own nails, creating protein bonds that tie the protein chains together. That’s what makes your nails harder.

Ethyl acetate is a prominent ingredient for bonding those agents together, and is generally recognized as safe. What’s not so safe is formaldehyde or formalin. They are so bad that some of the more reputable nail polish companies have removed them.

Formaldehyde or formalin initially hardens the nail. BUT, over time, it does exactly the opposite. Nails become brittle, which makes them susceptible to lifting and separating. Worse, it can cause severe allergic reactions around the nail, causing irritation, swelling and pain.

There is also quite a bit of concern that these two ingredients are also carcinogenic!

Dirty Nail Polishes

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Even many “natural” nail polishes have not been truthful about their ingredients. For example, Treat and AILA nail polishes both contain benzophenone-1, which has been flagged by both the European Union and the Environmental Working Group as a highly likely endocrine disruptor.

So, right about now, you’re probably trembling with fear and anxiety. What’s a beauty diva to do? Obviously, you cannot go without nail polish. That would just be cruel. The world’s a prettier place with painted nails!

Take The Long View on Nail Hardeners and Nail Polish

Let’s face it. Nail polish and hardeners are paint. You’re not going to find any nail product that is absolutely safe. The point is to use hardeners and polishes that are the least toxic to you and the environment.

Buy the safer options, and then try using nail polish ONLY for special occasions. Nails don't like being permanently coated in a synthetic sheet of paint - yellowing and flaking nails are common side effects of daily polish use. Go as long as you can without using polish - and remember - your nails grow out completely every 4 to 6 months! Follow the tips below and you may not feel the need to hide your nails with polish 4 months down the road.

"Can I Ever Use Nail Polish Again?!"

Yes! To help you make the safer choice for those special events and occasional use, we’ve rounded up 6 brands that have eliminated five of the most toxic ingredients in nail polish. And you can even get some of them at Wal-Mart and Costco!

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Is There A Truly Natural Way To Get Stronger Nails?

Yes, there is but it isn’t quick. Mother Nature just doesn’t work that way. When there is a weakness in the body, the best place to begin to strengthen that weakness is through diet. Your nails are no exception!

If your diet consists of mostly processed foods and sugar, then you’ll need to consider a diet overhaul. Remember, these aren’t foods you’re eating, they are chemicals contributing to the breakdown of your immune system. It takes Mother Nature time to repair!

Healthy eating for natural nails

There are four vitamins and minerals that really help to improve or avoid brittle nails. And if you’re menopausal, take special note, because brittle nails can show up after menopause.

Zinc—Responsible for nail and hair growth. It makes sense that a zinc deficiency can cause dry, brittle nails. Eat more seafood and grassfed meat. However, too much zinc will cause stomach upset and diarrhea. A little bit goes a long way.

Iron—If you have concave-shaped and brittle nails, you may well have an iron deficiency. Over half of your body’s supply of iron is found in your blood. It’s necessary to produce red blood cells and good fingernails! Eat more dried fruits and dark, leafy green vegetables. Red meat, turkey and eggs are also helpful.

Vitamin C—Your body can’t produce vitamin C on its own. You have to get it through food. Without an adequate amount, nails become brittle. Worse, it can cause your nail growth to slow down. Eat berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables.

B-Group Vitamins—Biotin, also known as vitamin H, is part of the B vitamin family. It’s critical for maintaining healthy nails. Biotin helps all of the B-complex vitamins to work together for strong nails. Eat liver, cauliflower, carrots and salmon.

If you know you’re sensitive to certain foods, don’t eat them! This, too, contributes to poor nails. Food intolerances irritate and weaken the gut and prevent your intestines from absorbing and using the minerals and vitamins your body needs to build strong healthy nails.

Once you eliminate these foods, take supplements that help you build up depleted bodily reserves. Consider zinc, biotin, horsetail, iron and an omega-3. Or you can simply use a quality multi-vitamin such as those made by Thorne Research.

Keep your nails looking great!

  • Trimming - When you’re cutting your nails, a natural rounded shape is best, not too long or too short. If you must file, remember to file them in ONE direction. That seesawing motion weakens nails! Take care to file in one direction, then reverse it, and file the other way.

  • Cuticle Care - don't push back your cuticles, just keep them healthy by moisturizing with a natural oil or hand cream.

  • Washing - Avoid antibacterial soap. It disrupts the healthy balance of good bacteria on your skin and nails. In fact, the FDA announced that there was really no added benefit to these soaps. Just wash your hands with natural soap and water.

  • Moisturizing - Be sure to use a simple natural moisturizer for your hands. Many traditional hand creams and lotions contain alcohol, which dries out your nails and cuticles, as well as parabens, which should always be avoided for healthy hormonal balance.

To Sum Up

Please don’t resort to acrylic or gel nails to get the strong, healthy nails you really want! These will only cause more health problems for you. Avoid nail polishes that have toxic chemicals that are suspected or known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

Build strong nails from within! Weak nails are your body’s way of telling you there’s an imbalance in your body.

Beauty divas, don’t despair! Enjoy your nail polishes. Simply make wiser choices, and opt to have nail polish for special occasions. You don’t really need polish while you’re gardening, do you?

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