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How to treat dry, dull and brittle toenails

How to treat dry, dull and brittle toenails

Feeling like your toenails are in need of some serious TLC? Here is my practical guide to beautiful nails that will transform your toes.

Painted toenails look great. Not many people would disagree with this fact. Who doesn’t love adding their favourite colour to their toes? The problem is having your toenails permanently painted can cause them to become dry, lacklustre and brittle.

When your toenails are looking less than their best, it is important to identify any causes affecting their health. For example, discoloured, breakable toenails can be due to dietary deficiency, overuse of nail varnish, nail damage, hypothyroidism, or occupational disease (conditions or disorders that result from the nature of your work.)

Sure, you may think having your toenails look less than desirable is not a big deal. They always look fine after slapping on a few coats of polish. However, this quick and easy fix is only a way to exacerbate the problem. If your toenails are unhealthy because of any of the causes listed above, you want to seek professional help immediately. With the appropriate treatment in place, you can prevent your toenails from worsening and restore their health.

How to restore your toenails’ health

  1. Give them some breathing space

For a start, you need to stop overusing nail polish. Most nail polishes, whether traditional, gel or shellac, don’t do much to help your toenail health. More so, they can actually be making your toenails weaker and prone to infections, especially if you have been applying your favourite shades directly on the nail without a good base coat.

The thing is, your toenails are not impermeable — quite the opposite. Nails are actually more porous than the skin, so anything you put on them will go through and straight into your bloodstream. So chemicals that are found in nail polishes, your toenails absorb.

If you leave your toenails permanently painted, they have no way to breathe. As a result, they develop a yellowed, chalky, stained appearance and become brittle and dry. What’s more, the nail plate can trap yeast, bacteria, and mould, leading to an infection underneath the nail.

Allowing your toenails to breathe in between pedicures is essential to restore their health. And this includes not putting on a clear top coat of polish. Instead, you should keep them bare, which will allow them to get oxygen to the nail bed.

Once they’re ready to wear nail varnish again, make sure you always use a base coat before applying the colour and opt for vegan toxic / formaldehyde-free nail polish to avoid further drying of the toenails and cuticles. And never re-apply varnish on top of old varnish as it’s not only gross but will damage your nails.

In addition, if your toenails have started to thicken and even crumble, you likely have a fungal nail infection. In this instance, you should seek help from your podiatrist straight away to prevent it from spreading to other nails. At my clinic, Callen Olive Podiatry, we treat nail fungus with a Lunula laser treatment. It is very effective, and most of my clients walk away with healthy toenails after a few sessions.

  1. Keep them in good shape

Toenails should be kept short to avoid getting infections. When trimming them, ensure you keep their natural shape, and the edge reaches the tip of your toe. If you cut them too short, you run the risk of getting ingrowing toenails. I also recommend giving them a good buff to exfoliate the nail plate. Buffing brings instant brightening to the nails and removes any stains.

  1. Show them love

Giving your feet some daily TLC is an excellent way to unwind and dedicate time to yourself. After applying a good foot moisturiser like Callen Olive Foot Sole & Heel Saviour, use a nail and cuticle oil on your toenails. Callen Olive Bare To Impress Nail & Cuticle Oil contains a super blend of 99% naturally derived, high-grade oils and vitamins, including Kukui Nut Oil and Papaya Oil, to hydrate dull, damaged / brittle nails and restore their healthy glow. Massage both products well into the skin and nails for at least five minutes, allowing them to be absorbed. By the time you finish, you’ll feel like walking on air and totally energised for the day.

For in-depth nourishment, you can repeat the process at night and cover your feet with socks made of cotton or other natural material. During the colder months, you can sleep with the socks for maximum hydration, when in the summer, 15-20 minutes is all you need.

When your toenails are discoloured or look unsightly, it’s tempting to cover them up with nail polish to hide the embarrassing concern. You may also prefer the look of your feet with perfectly coloured toenails. However, having natural toenails doesn’t mean your feet are less attractive. To me, it’s a matter of preference, and I believe bare toenails are equally beautiful, if not sexier.

And remember, a little bit of air exposure is all they need to stay healthy.

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