12 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your Nails Now And Forever

Perhaps you’re determined to stop biting your nails or peeling off your gel polish (it’s a hard habit to break, I get it). Or maybe just want to maintain your nail health (yes, please!) or learn how to fake a just-from-the-salon type of mani (also yes). Whatever the case, you’ll want to put nail pro (and Sally Hansen’s Global Color Ambassador) Madeline Poole’s advice into action asap. Here, 12 things you need to stop doing to your nails now to keep them in tip top shape.

1. Stop… peeling off your gel mani. “The number one thing I tell people not to do is peel off their gel manicure,” Poole says. “Because, as you peel the gel off, you end up peeling away super-thin layers of your nail along with the formula, which can cause divots that linger for months. Doing this can even cause your nail to peel after the fact, which will cause your polish to chip faster; plus, it just won’t look pretty.” Instead, Poole recommends soaking your nails in a bowl of acetone-based polish to loosen the gel from your nail bed. “Put a ton of cuticle oil on and around your nails first (to help hydrate them and the skin surrounding it), and soak your tips in the remover for 10 minutes,” she explains. Then, gently remove it using light pressure and the flat, slanted tip of an orange stick (a long wooden cuticle pusher) that you can pick up at any beauty supply shop or drugstore. ”
2. Stop… cutting your cuticles. If you have a hangnail on the side of your nail bed it can sometimes be painful if you don’t get rid of it. However, if hangnails aren’t trimmed away properly, you can actually cause more to crop up. Poole’s advice: It’s better to never cut your cuticles and instead, apply a cuticle-removing formula over the perimeter of your nail bed, and then push your cuticle back using the flat tip of an orange stick or cuticle pusher. Then, gently remove the free-up dead skin with a tissue or the softest side of a buffing block to reveal a hangnail-free, clean-looking nail bed.
3. Stop… using your other nails as chisels to chip off your nail polish. Anytime you purposely chip the paint off of your nails (whether it’s a nervous habit or you’re just finally over that burgundy lacquer), you chip away microscopic layers from your nail bed. This is bad for two reasons: 1) it gives your nail a rough texture even if you can’t see it with your naked eye, and 2) “you can cause trauma to, and even chip or break the tip, of the nail that you’re using as the ‘chisel,’” Poole adds. So, to keep from hacking away at your nail polish, keep individually wrapped nail polish remover pads in your purse or pick up a nail polish removing formula that takes lacquer off in seconds.
4. Stop… getting water-based manicures. Think of your nail bed as a sponge: dip it in water and it’ll absorb the liquid and expand. Then, as it dries, it shrinks back down to its original size. Now apply that same thinking to getting a water-based manicure. “When you soak your fingertips in water to soften your cuticles, your nail expands,” Poole explains. “This normally wouldn’t be a problem, however, if you’re applying polish before it shrinks back down, your lacquer will likely chip faster.” Rather than soaking your tips in water, Poole recommends applying oil or a cuticle removing formula on the skin around your nail bed, pushing back your cuticles with an orange stick, and then sweeping them away with a tissue.

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