When was the last time you saw your nails in their natural, un-polished, bare-naked glory? If you have to think long and hard about that answer, then it’s likely you’re like most women in the region and treat yourself to regular mani-pedis without giving your nail health a second thought. Although it’s important to invest in professional treatments, it’s also important to let nails “breathe” and to give them a break from brightly colored nail polishes, because the effects of keeping them colored can be pretty ugly – literally.
“Discolored nails can be caused by many things like fungus, lack of calcium or zinc, or trauma, but above all it’s caused by nail polish,” says Jeremy Jeune, Manager of the Bastian Gonzalez nail studios in Dubai. “Nail polish is like makeup, like plastic, and when you wear certain polishes the nail cannot breathe. The nail is like a sponge, and after three days it absorbs all the chemical products and pigments from polish and this can burn the nail bed.”
“The pigments used in nail polish, particularly darker shades, can stain your nails over time,” agrees Negin Fattahi-Dasmal, Founder and CEO of N.Bar. “The best way to prevent this from happening is to always use a clear base coat before applying your favorite shade of polish,” she adds.
To find out more about the different ways you can treat discoloration or avoid nail staining, Savoir Flair asked Dubai’s nail experts for their top DIY remedies to keep your nails looking their best when left au naturel.
“The bleaching and exfoliating properties of baking soda can remove stains from the nails,” says Negin Fattahi-Dasmal. “Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, half a teaspoon of olive oil, and one teaspoon of lemon juice to make a thick paste. Rub the mixture onto your nails using a soft toothbrush and leave on for about five minutes before rinsing off with warm water. Repeat this remedy every two weeks.”
“Just as it removes stains from your teeth, whitening toothpaste can be used to brighten yellowed nails,” reveals Ruby Jane Basilonia, Nail Technician and Team Leader at Tips & Toes. “Simply apply a bit of whitening toothpaste to each nail and rub it in. Let it sit for a few minutes then wash off with water and moisturize well afterwards.”
Tea Tree Oil
“Products that contain tea tree oil are hugely beneficial to helping protect nails against infection. Also, products with emu oil are great as it has natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties,” renowned celebrity nail guru Margaret Dabbs tells us.
“Real lemon juice can be used to whiten yellowed nails. Simply slice a lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl you can fit your fingertips into. Let your nails soak for around ten minutes and repeat when necessary,” advises Basilonia.
Apple Cider Vinegar
“The malic and acetic acids present in apple cider vinegar help reduce discoloration of nails. It also has anti-fungal properties that will treat any kind of nail infection that can cause discoloration,” Negin Fattahi-Dasmal tells us. “Mix half a cup of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of lukewarm water, and soak your nails in the mixture for about 20 minutes. Pat your nails dry with a soft towel and do this three times daily for a month to treat infection and reduce discoloration. This remedy will also help strengthen and stimulate nail growth!”
There are, of course, other reasons why your nails might be yellow or discolored, so if in doubt always go and check with an expert to see if there’s a bigger underlying issue. It could be a sign of a fungal infection, overgrowth of bacteria, malnutrition, or even diabetes. If you’re a smoker, it’s also likely that your nails are subject to stains. Pay attention to how your nails look and feel, leave them to be as natural as possible whenever you can, and use good quality products free from nasty chemicals when you want to dress them up.