1. File & Shape
Filing nails can be somewhat of a chore, but if you keep your talons trimmed and of a reasonable length it's far easier to maintain them in the long term. I have a habit of getting a bit over excited when I grow a nail longer than two millimeters, but my overall manicure looks a lot more polished if I keep all ten nails of an equal length and filed to perfection. Longer nails have a tendency to become weak and break easily, so you're lowering the chances of a talon emergency if you regularly file down and shape your nails. The Stylfile files are great at helping to shape, as they've been designed to perfectly fit the natural curve of nails.
2. Cuticle Oil
One of the best tips a manicurist gave me was to use cuticle oil at least once a day; she admitted she's got timers on her phone that remind her three times a day to apply a small amount. Since I've been embracing this idea I've definitely noticed a difference - my nails are stronger, longer, split less and are easier to maintain. The oil nourishes the nail bed to ensure nails grow nourished and healthy looking, whilst hydrating around the nail to prevent messy cuticles. My current favourite is from Mavala (£11.50) as it's non-greasy and hard working, while being small enough to pop in my bag.
3. Hardening Base Coat
A secret weapon for anyone that suffers from splitting nails, hardening base coats help strengthen the nail and prevent breaking both in the short and long term. I'm forever applying strengthening treatments, both under colour and on naked nails, to help replenish and harden the surface; not only do they protect the nail surface from staining (no yellowing nails for me!) but they help prevent overly bendy talons that only cause more problems down the line. Ciate, Sally Hansen and Mavala all do great products that meet specific needs; you should see a difference in around six weeks.
4. Overnight Hand Cream
Utilise the power of your beauty sleep and apply a rich, nourishing hand cream before you slip between the sheets. You can opt for a specific treatment such as E45's Overnight Hand Cream (£5.19) or a hardworking formula such as KIKO's Intensive Hand Balm (£5.90) that can also be used in the day. Alternatively, lathering up your usual favourite hand product and applying cotton gloves really helps the product to penetrate skin and get to work; the cream will nourish as you sleep and leave you with baby soft hands the next day. Healthy nails stem from healthy hands, so hand cream is an essential part of the nail growth process.
5. Rubber Gloves
For years I've avoided wearing rubber gloves while cleaning (the smell is somewhat unappealing!) but I've finally given in, in the knowledge it will be good for my hands. Water is actually incredibly drying as essential natural oils are also lost when it evaporates; washing up regularly, or using chemical cleaning products which can severley irritate skin, will damage the overall condition of hands and leave nails even more prone to breaking. Spending a couple of quid on a pair of rubber gloves will be the best thing you can do for your hands in the long term - even if they're unglamorous at the time, the result will be much nicer nails in the future!
Do you have any top tips for helping your nails to grow longer and remain healthy?