Why is it that in summer our nails are long, strong and practically invincible, but as soon as we get the first whiff of winter in the air they start snapping like nobody’s business?
“With winter setting in, nails take a pummelling from the dropping temperature outdoors and the dry atmosphere indoors,” says Pupinder Ghatora, pharmacist and co-founder of Ingenious Beauty. “It is not surprising that they can do with a little extra help.”
It’s not just snap-happy nails we have to contend with; splitting and flakiness also feature high up on the cold weather complaints list, and there’s a scientific explanation for that.
“Onychoschisis is a condition that causes horizontal splits within the nail plate,” explain the founders of Dr.’s Remedy, podiatrists Dr Adam Cirlincione and Dr William Spielfogel. “Nail splitting is often seen together with onychorrhexis – long-wise splitting or ridging of the nail plate – and these two diseases together are called ‘brittle nail syndrome’.”
Exacerbated by frequent exposure to water or chemicals, plus diet or medical issues, the condition has numerous causes, but the good news is, there are lots of ways to prevent it.
Whether you suffer from this unsightly syndrome or just want to improve your nails’ strength, here are the do’s and don’ts you should follow if you want smooth unbroken nails this winter.
Don’t soak your nails in water
“Washing up, having a bath, or even a traditional manicure offering a soak in a bowl are all great big no-nos,” says Georgie Smedley, founder of nail brand All That Jazz.
“Exposing your nails to water makes them swell, with, you guessed it, water, and while you may not think that’s a bad thing, it really is bad for those poor little beauties. Although the water in the nail plate will evaporate in around 30 to 60 minutes, the harmful part is that it will take with it all the good oils that are meant to stay in the nail, therefore stripping the nail plate of all its flexibility, adding to the problem of brittleness.”
Do apply cuticle oil – and lots of it
“You’re obviously not going to avoid having a bath, washing your hair, or showering, but be sure to smother your nails in cuticle oils to re-hydrate and protect from those nasty low-down breaks,” Georgie continues.
Celebrity manicurist Michelle Class agrees: “By using cuticle oil daily you will help to stop flaking, brittleness, and flexibility by hydrating them.”
Try Dadi Oil 95% Organic Nail Treatment Oil, now £3.56 from £3.95, NailPolishDirect.
Don’t forget to wear gloves
“Keep those digits inside gloves where possible,” Georgie says. “The frequent temperature changes from being indoors to outdoors will cause excess dehydration, so wearing gloves will help regulate their temperature. And don’t forget washing up gloves – they count towards great protection too.”
Do keep your nails short
“Keep nails at a reasonable length, and slightly shorter than normal, as they are at a greater risk of breaking during winter months,” Georgie advises. “A good quality file will seal the edges and prevent peeling. Try to use a glass file, such as the All That Jazz Glass Nail File, £8.39, which has a super fine surface and will seal the free edge, leaving it smooth and snag free.”
Don’t be too rough with your nail file
“If your nails need trimming, clip gently or use a file to take the length down,” recommends Alison Dowse, IZ Beauty educator and celebrity nail technician. “Filing the correct way with the right file will help reduce any splitting or damage to the natural nail. File gently across the free edge of the nail in one direction keeping the file flat on the edge of the nails.”
Don’t neglect your hands
“Problem skin causing nail disorders? Psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema can all contribute to a damaged matrix – the nail root where it’s formed,” Georgie says. “Using a wax cream such as the healing Bee Bar, £14.99 from All That Jazz coats the skin and nails with a barrier and helps heal the skin and give day long protection from the elements.”
Do consider a collagen supplement
“We know collagen is so important in keeping our skin, hair and nails healthy and strong,” Pupinder says, but most collagen we ingest, whether from natural sources or supplements, is broken down in the stomach so can’t be absorbed in the small intestine and used in our bodies.
“There is only one product in the world that has been able to achieve this. Ultimate Collagen+ by Ingenious Beauty has actually produced a supplement that delivers collagen in a plant cellulose capsule that is protected from the action of the stomach and breaks down almost immediately in the small intestine delivering a targeted amount of collagen to the blood.”
Don’t use acetone nail varnish remover
“If you’ve got a nail polish on, and it needs removing, avoid using acetone-based removers, unless you’ve got gel polish on, as they can be particularly drying on nails and the skin around it,” Allison says. “Instead, soak a cotton pad in IZ Beauty Cleanse, £3, an acetone-free nail varnish remover enriched with hydrating oils, and gently press onto the nail for a few seconds to loosen the polish, before swiping off the remainder with a new pad.”