6 things your manicurist wants you to stop doing to your nails

There’s nothing like a perfect manicure to complete a flawless look. If you’re treating yourself to a professional mani-pedi at the salon, you obviously want to maintain it for as long as possible. “We use our hands and feet the most, so taking care of your nails is super important. Well-groomed hands and feet are the sign of a professional individual,” says Tina Talwar, owner of 1010 The Nail Spa, which has spaces in Mumbai and Delhi. We spoke to her about all the manicure blunders our manicurists are annoyed we’re still making, and found out more about what they wish we’d do instead.

1) You’re picking off your gel polish

Absentmindedly picking off your nail polish (especially if it’s a gel polish) may feel extremely satisfying, but it can really damage your nail bed below. “Never try to peel your polish off at home,” says Talwar. It strips the nails off the top layer of cells (called onychocytes), which can lead to thinning and eventually breakage. Brittle nails with ridges are prone to even more chipping once the polish is applied, resulting in a messy manicure. Talwar also suggests only choosing manicures that your nails can handle. “We have a number of clients that come to us for gel colour or extensions, but if we think it should not be done on their existing nails, we let them know,” she says.

2) You’re waiting months between appointments

“Three weeks is the upper limit for keeping gel polish on,” says Talwar. If you absolutely have to take your gel polish off before making it to the salon, there’s a less harmful way to do it. Buff the top layer of polish off (particularly if it is a glitter one), and apply cuticle oil to the corner of the finger to protect it. Then, soak a cotton piece with remover, and use it on each nail to loosen and swipe the polish off. “At the salon, we use an acetone-free remover to do this. We then apply OPI cuticle cream on to the client’s cuticles and then soak them for a while,” Talwar explains. If you are taking a break between salon visits, Talwar advises that you give your nails a breather. “Let them be natural for a while,” she recommends.

3) You’re biting your nails

Nail biting is a hard habit to break if you already do it, but it’s definitely worth working on. Biting can lead to permanent damage to the skin around the nails, causing hangnails and bleeding skin. This can make it harder to paint the nails, as well as cause divots and ridges on the surface.

4) You’re cutting your cuticles

“We push back cuticles and try not to cut them if we don’t have to,” says Talwar. Cuticles actually protect the nails from bacteria and fungi, so cutting them off may do more harm than good. Do not insist on clipping them; instead, use a cuticle remover to soften them, and have your nail tech push them back with an orange stick.

5) You’re going to salons that use harsh treatments

“Using metal tools or foot files is a complete no-no. I feel that a big misconception in India is that the more dead skin one sees coming off the foot, the better the pedicure is. This is most definitely not the case and can actually be majorly damaging. Another scary thing that some people do is that they dig the nails with a metal tool. This can cause a division between the nail plate and skin. Over buffing is also not required as it makes your nails weak and brittle. It’s done a lot to remove gel polish in India, but I think it is completely unnecessary,” says Talwar.

6) You’re not letting your nails dry

Flipping through a magazine, rooting through your bag for your wallet, or swiping on your phone while your nail polish is still wet will ruin your manicure before you even leave the salon. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the treatment without messing it up in the middle—your manicurist will thank you for it.

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