How Getting A Manicure Really Affects Your Nails & Hands

When you're painting your nails or getting a manicure, you're probably pondering which sparkly metallic or bright neon shade would look most dramatic with your favorite Instagram filter. What you're probably not thinking about is how nail polish or a manicure affects your nails. But according to essie Celebrity Manicurist Michelle Saunders, it's all about maintenance and care once you coat your nails in varnish.

I spoke with Saunders, who is a regular on both editorial photo shoots and backstage at NYFW shows, over email to ask what exactly happens to our nails when we decide to get a manicure. She began by saying that a good manicure is "necessary for proper grooming to promote health (hangnails) and beauty (nail polish)," and that a good manicure is easy to achieve, whether you're going to a professional or doing it at home. But that it's all about how you care for your nails that makes the difference.

I hate to break it to all the nail polish lovers out there, but Saunders explained that manicures and nail polish can dry your nails of their natural oils, and if they're too dry, your nails can even split or peel (yikes!). She compared it to damaged hair, which has the same keratin protein as nails.

"Nails need moisture and nourishment from the inside (vitamins) and the outside (oils)," Saunders says. "Nails are constantly regenerating from a root, just as hair [does], so if your nails are dry, brittle or damaged. trim them (as you would split-ends) and add a treatment of oil daily."

So not all hope is lost, as Saunders recommends taking close care of your nails to ensure they remain strong and healthy even after a manicure. And even better? Saunders says nails are never ruined or permanently damaged from gel or polish because "because they are constantly being regenerated from a root." So, even if you do go to a salon that doesn't properly remove your gel manicure, or you do it at home (tsk, tsk), Saunders says to remember that your nails will go back to their natural state with care and nourishment.

Ultimately, according to Saunders, take care of your nails by finding a manicure you know and love, who can cater to your specific nail needs on a regular basis. If you're a DIY kind of person, make sure to groom cuticles gently, keep your hands moisturized, and use a quality base coat, varnish, and top coat. Oh, and as Saunders advises, "Always apply cuticle oil!"

So whether you're sworn off nail polishes and manicures forever, or if you just love them too much to say goodbye, it's probably worth looking into different products that can help keep your nails healthy and happy. Check out these nine products that can help maintain the health of your nails and keep them pretty. Yes, even without varnish!

1. Hand Cream

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, $28,

Your nails need to be hydrated just like your skin, as Good Housekeeping points out, so using a hand cream and rubbing it into your nails will help keep them both moisturized.

2. Cuticle Cream

Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Nail & Cuticle Therapy Cream, $16,

Or, you can focus just on your nails and use a cream that's geared towards just your nails and cuticles.

3. Cuticle Oil

Jason Natural Tea Tree Nail Saver, $6.51,

Oils might be a little messy to work with, especially when you're required to rub some on the tips of your fingers. But cuticle oils are known to keep nails and cuticles hydrated so that they don't create hangnails or get dry and brittle. Nail professional Deborah Lippmann told The Huffington Post that she recommends using cuticle oil every time you wash your hands.

4. Nail Strengthener

Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Nail Strengthener, $5.02,

A product like this can help with brittle thin nails that are prone to breaking. Apply it in between manicures, and it will gives your nails that strength and care it needs to make them healthy.

5. Quality Nail Clippers

Powergrip Fingernail Clipper, $10,

Because the dull nail clippers you've had since the beginning of time just aren't going to cut it any longer. Get it?

6. A Strong Nail File

Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator Buffer File, $12,

No more slinky, thin nail files for you. Invest in a strong, quality one to keep your nails filed and clean.

7. A Cuticle Pusher

ULTA Professional Cuticle Pusher, $12,

If you have been cutting your cuticles, it's time to kick the habit. Cutting your cuticle actually opens doors to infections and unwanted bacteria, so avoid cutting them. Although, pushing them back with a cuticle pusher will safely remove some extra cuticle to make your nails look pretty, as well as keep away any bad germs, celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik told Harper's Bazaar.

8. Base Coat

First Base Base Coat, $8.50,

Start off any manicure with a base coat that will not only keep your nails protected but also provide a perfect foundation for your varnish.

9. Top Coat

Good To Go Top Coat, $8.50,

And the last step? A top coat that will speed up your manicure and make it as shiny as ever.

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Images: Courtesy Brands