Guest Author - April Alisa Marquette
Whether or not we consciously think of it, our fingernails can add to, or diminish from, our appearance. The way they look says something about us, to others. Our nails can say that we are either clean or slovenly. As quiet as it is kept, our fingernails can also alert others about our attention to detail, or not. The appearance of our fingernails can also lead others to believe that we take time for ourselves, or not.
Now there is no law that says Ethnic Beauties must purchase or have artificial nails applied to look pulled together, because the truth is natural nails are often most beautiful. They need care however, for their primary function is protection. Our fingernails not only cover the tips of our fingers which may be sensitive, but because our fingernails are firm, they also aid us to do many things. Like our hair and skin, our natural nails are made up of a protein called keratin and are comprised of different parts. There is the nail bed, which is the soft tissue that lies beneath the fingernail. The nail plate is the hard part that is readily seen. Then there are our cuticles, the clear membrane that overlaps a portion of our nail plate. Our fingernails also have what is called a matrix (and you thought that was only a movie) which manufactures the cells that form the nail plate.
In order to keep all the components of our nails healthy, we need protein and zinc in our diet. Our nails also need water, as does every other system in or bodies. Iron keeps our nails from becoming brittle, calcium is necessary, and the B vitamins are also great nail boosters, because they promote cell growth and aid our body’s circulatory system. Most of these necessary vitamins are found in a lot of the yummy foods that we eat.
Now to protect our natural nails...We should avoid biting, pulling, or nibbling at our cuticles. Our hands should also not be immersed in chemical solutions, because harsh agents have drying effects which can often weaken our natural nails. Wearing rubber gloves while doing household chores, or even while puttering in the garden is a good idea, and will provide much needed protection. We should also trim our fingernails, not when they are dry, but after a bath or shower because then they are soft and less likely to crack. After being immersed in water, we should not only moisturize our hands, but our natural nails as well as our cuticles. Before we sleep, moisturizer is recommended. Don't forget, when manicuring natural nails, we should be mindful of our cuticles. If pushed back too far, the cuticle, the protective membrane, can no longer keep us from contracting infection. When we file our natural nails it is advisable to do so in one direction. This may take some getting used to, because many of us -- myself included -- have an ingrained tendency to saw back and forth. However, doing so can cause the fingernails to become splintered or to unbecomingly split.
Natural nails have a luster all their own, but for added shine, try a coat or two of clear polish. Either you or a professional can apply. Polish with a rosy tint can mimic the look of healthy fingernails. One thing to remember though is that nail polish remover containing acetone is harsh, and can dry out natural nails. Therefore, acetone-free remover is a good way to go. Natural nails may occasionally need shaping. Make sure you follow the basic shape of the finger, and don't work too much on the sides, or the nail may weaken and easily but painfully break. No opening beverage or catfood cans using the fingernails -- a great way to also break them. Keeping natural nails clean, and following these simple easy tips will yield rewards. Doing so will also show you, and others, that there is nothing so lovely as a hand with uniformed, tapered, clean, natural nails -- fingernails that say you actually do care...about quite a few things -- one of them being you!