Experts answer your nail-care questions

    What’s the best way to care for your nails? Sister 2 Sister asked clinical professor and dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara some of the hard-hitting questions that deal with the health of your nails. For some of the more cosmetic questions, we went to manicurists Lisa Logan and Terrance Terry. Find out what they said about how to keep your nails pretty.



    S2S: Are there any legit remedies to stop biting nails/hangnails?
    Mona: There are bitter formulas made to apply to and around the nails so people stop biting them—they are non-toxic, and very effective. Apply liberally and daily to break the habit.

    S2S: Do hair, skin, nails vitamins really work? What do they do?
    Mona: Yes, multivitamins are essential to strong hair and nails. Iron deficiency or diets low in folate, or B complex vitamins, can cause hair/nail thinning. A daily dose of biotin is really important, as this has been proven to help strengthen weak hair [and] nails.

    S2S: Is there anything that can be done to prevent those dark lines that sometimes appear on nails?
    Mona: No, longitudinal melanonychia cannot be avoided. It can be caused by genetics or medicines. It often times can represent a mole or even skin cancer under the nail, so it must be checked out by a dermatologist.

    S2S: I’m a new devotee of Ultra-Violet (UV) gel polish manicures and have had good experiences so 
far. Are there any long-term issues associated with gel polish that I need to 
be aware of, or is it magic in a bottle as I suspect?
    Mona: UV light treatments are not really recommended. UV light is a known carcinogen, (cancer causing agent) so unfortunately these lights are exposing the hands to harmful energy.

    S2S: What about long-term issues associated with Minx?
    Mona: Any artificial nail treatment can contribute to brittle nails.

    S2S: Is it better to have your nails rounded or square-shaped?
    Mona: Everyone is different. There is no science to this; it is just important to ensure that the nail edges do not curl in as this can result in painful ingrown nails.

    S2S: What are the most common reasons for nail breakage?
    Mona: Oftentimes, dryness or aging can cause nail breakage. Make sure the nails are well-moisturized with essential oils and drink plenty of water to ensure hydration. Also vitamin deficiency can cause brittle nails, so make sure you are taking a multivitamin, especially one with plenty of biotin. Lastly, over-processing of the nails with acrylics can cause nail breakage.

    S2S: Are there foods I can eat to help my nails grow faster?
    Mona: Eat food rich in biotins like whole grains. Also, food rich in zinc and vitamin B will strengthen your nails.

    S2S: How can I repair my natural nails after removing acrylic nails?
    Mona: Take a little Vaseline to the nails every night, this helps to moisturize and repair damaged nails or cuticles.

    S2S: How can I keep my cuticles clean and healthy?
    Mona: Take a Q-tip, gently dampen it with some warm water and a little soap. Then swipe the Q-tip along the free edge of the nail. This helps to get dirt out.

    S2S: What is the best nail-care advice for in between manicure and pedicure appointments?
    Terrance: Apply a top coat every two days and it will help your polish last longer. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Make sure you always have a good moisturizer to keep your hands and the bottom of your feet smooth. Use an exfoliant, like a sugar scrub, and keep a bottle of cuticle oil in your purse and apply a little after you wash your hands.

    S2S: How do you keep darker nail polish colors from staining your nails?

    Terrance: With any type of polish you should always apply a good base coat before you apply any enamel or lacquer. That will keep your nail color from staining, whether it’s [a] light or dark color. Always use a base coat.

    S2S: How can you maintain naturally white nail tips?

    Terrance: Use a top coat that has a UV inhibitor which will keep it from yellowing. Yellowing is usually caused by the pigments of different hair creams and lotions, or if you’re a smoker. So a good top coat can help keep the white from turning yellow.

    S2S: What are the best ways to prevent my polish from peeling?

    Terrence: There are a couple of different things that cause polish to peel: … using a cheap polish, very hot temperatures and sometimes it’s because oil excretes from the hair, skin and nails. Before you apply nail polish, make sure the nail is dehydrated by spraying nails with 70 percent Isopropyl alcohol and removing it with a lint-free paper towel.

    S2SWhy won’t my polish stay on?

    Lisa: The cocktail of the base and top coat that you use will determine the life of your polish. Let’s not forget that everyone’s nails are different. If you have a thinner nail bed that breaks, have nails filed smooth before applying color, because if not, as the nail flakes or chips, your polish will come off with it in chunks.

    S2S: How are the new nail polish trends factoring into the work place? People are wearing crazy colors and prints these days. Is bright red or bright pink appropriate for work now?

    Lisa: Sometimes girls just want to have fun, but your boss might freak out about it. Have fun with your feet and accent your nails by taking a subtle approach, like having four fingers in one shade and painting the thumb, pinky or ring finger with a neon color or design.

    S2S: How should I best store my polish collection?
    Lisa: You always have to keep it at least at room temperature. Always make sure that the tops of the polish are tightly sealed, because any air that gets into the bottle can cause drying, especially if it’s a quick-dry product. Just imagine how much drying is taking place internally with constant opening and closing of the bottle, so make sure it’s sealed tight.

    S2S: How much money should I tip my manicurist?

It’s all about customer service and the experience. Each experience is individual, and I won’t put a price on what to give, but if I work hard and give you excellent service, your tip should reflect that.


    —Margaret Francois


    For more on the season’s hottest nail colors, pick up the August 2011 issue of Sister 2 Sister.







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