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Things You Never Knew About Your Nails

Increase your nail knowledge for prettier, healthier-looking tips.

You actually should let your nails "breathe" between manicures.
You might want to reschedule that weekly mani appointment -- according to Krant, it's best to reduce the amount of time your nails are polished to keep them at their healthiest. "Believe it or not, that hard thing on the tip of your finger is living tissue, and oxygen does penetrate through the nail plate to the nail bed," she says. "When you smother the nail and the nail bed beneath it, the nail has a harder time fighting off infections like the wart virus or a nail fungus. 
Also, nail polish is quite drying to the nail, so keeping them polished all the time (and re-doing the manicure repeatedly, with the drying chemicals used to remove polish) can eventually dry them out and make them less flexible and strong."

They Also Grow Faster in Warmer Climates
People who live in areas with higher temps tend to have nails that grow faster, says Shel Pink, founder of the company SpaRitual. (So a tropical vacation might be just what you need to get your nails growing!) Why does this happen? The sun helps your body create the vitamin D your nails need to grow quickly, says Pink.

Stress can take a toll on your nails.
In addition to stress-related picking and biting, chronic stress can inhibit nail growth, HuffPost previously reported. It's important to manage stress and get plenty of sleep for optimal nail health (and for a whole bunch of other reasons), according to Krant. "Chronic stress and fatigue divert the body's energy and nutrients away from growing healthy nails and hair," she says.

Cuticles have a purpose.
And that's why many experts recommend against removing them for aesthetic purposes. "The cuticle is there to seal moisture and environmental germs out of the body, which is why it's very important not to pick at the cuticle or to let manicurists cut it off," Krant says. "It must be treated gently and left in place as much as possible."

The hardness of your nails is mostly genetic.
Not much can be done about nail shape or how quickly they grow in, Krant explains, but nails that constantly break or peel could signal being dried out. "Hand washing, doing dishes without thick rubber gloves, house cleaning, working with paper, getting frequent manicures, and using a lot of hand sanitizer are all culprits that contribute," she says. To protect your hands, use a thick hand and nail cream that you use regularly (not just once a day): "If you get into the habit of reapplying frequently, you keep your cuticles smooth and unclipped, and you gently file off rough nail edges instead of picking at them, your nails will start to peel and break less."

Nails Grow Faster on Your Dominant Hand
That's why, if you're right-handed, you may have noticed that you have to trim the nails on your right hand more often, says Adrienne Blanks, a licensed nail technician and esthetician and creator of the eco-friendly nail polish line D.I.D Nail Paint. The theory behind this is that nails that are used more often and exposed to the elements grow faster, says Blanks.

What You Eat Can Impact How Your Nails Look
Nails grow an average of two to three millimeters a month, and it only takes six months for healthy lifestyle changes you to show up in your nails, says Rose. She recommends boosting your keratin production—essential for healthy nails by eating lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and foods rich in vitamin C.

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