5 Healthy Nail Habits To Adopt ASAP, According To A Nail Expert — PHOTOS

As a grown-up, there is a certain expectation of how our nails should look. They don't necessarily need to be perfectly polished at every moment, but they do need to look clean, presentable, and healthy — especially if you're in the workforce. The best way to make this happen is to treat your nails the right way, and there are certain easy habits you can adopt ASAP to keep your nails healthy.

I was a chronic nail biter for most of my life, but quit cold turkey shortly after I graduated college and realized that I was regularly going to have to shake people's hands upon introduction (instead of giving them a one-armed hug and cheers-ing them with a solo cup). Having gross looking nails started to embarrass me, even though it wasn't something I had ever worried about before — another fun perk of growing up. Soon, I realized that it wasn't only important to keep my nails looking good, I needed to keep them feeling good to.

Who's with me, ladies?

In my quest for healthy, adorable nails, I spoke to Rita Pinto, the founder of the uber-fab NYC nail salon Vanity Projects that's famous for it's to-die-for nail art (check out some of the pictures below). She gave me some advice about habits I could introduce into my routine for the best feeling and best looking results — crazy-colored nail polish, optional.

1. Keep Your Nails Hydrated

Burt's Bee's Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, $6 , BurtsBees.com

Like your skin, hair and body, your nails need hydration too. Pinto suggests regularly using cuticle cream to keep your nails from drying out. This one from Burt's Bees is all natural and smells like fresh lemons.

2. Get Manicures Every Two Weeks

Sally Hansen Fabulous Fingernails Cosmetics Set, $8.31, BeautySpin.com

If you're anything like me, your polish is chipped after five minutes, so two weeks sounds like a fairly generous estimate. Even if you're not polishing your nails, Pinto says its important to get bi-weekly manicures to maintain cuticle health and remove hangnails. (And to catch up on your favorite celebrity gossip magazines, too.) If you can't make it to a salon, clip your cuticles at home with a manicure kit.

3. Be Careful With Gel

We have all heard the horror stories about gel ruining people's nails, but there are certain habits you can get into that can help you avoid doing any serious damage. Pinto advises to make sure you go to a reputable place, and make sure the removal process is done gently (as in, don't peel them off yourself while you're watching The Bachelorette). If the technician is using a metal pusher have them take extra care as the top layer of the nail can be damaged.

4. Don't Bite Them!

Not only does it ruin your nails and make your hands look gnarly, it's actually bad for you too. Do you know where those fingers have been?!

5. Eat More Greens & Protein

Country Life High Potency Biotin, $7.19, drugstore.com

The way you eat effects your entire body, and your nails are no exception. According to Pinto, eating right will also affect your nails, so maintain a balanced diet and take biotin supplements. The best thing for hardening your nails is protein, so make sure you're eating enough meat and/or leafy green vegetables.

Images: VanityProjects/Instagram; Courtesy of Brands