wikiHow to Groom Long Nails

Three Methods:Keeping Long Nails CleanShaping Long NailsMaintaining Long Nails

Long nails look great, but many women avoid them because of the rigorous grooming involved. Maintaining well-groomed nails does take a bit of work, but that work quickly becomes second nature. Keeping your long nails groomed properly will look fantastic and keep you healthy.

Method 1
Keeping Long Nails Clean

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    Wash your hands diligently. Long nails can harbor dangerous infections, making meticulous hand-washing a must.[1] Centers of Disease Control and Protection recommend a particular way to wash your hands that is the most effective at killing germs and microbes.[2] Use clean, running water. Apply soap and lather for 20 seconds, making sure to scrub the backsides of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse your hands well and dry them on a clean towel.[3]
    • Keeping nails dry is as important as keeping them clean, since moisture can encourage bacteria to grow. Carefully dry your hands on a clean towel every time you get them wet.[4]
    • Carry antibacterial hand sanitizer with you for times when soap and water aren’t available. Make sure the sanitizer is a gel and contains at least 60% alcohol – most commercially available sanitizers meet this criteria.[5]
    • Using a hand sanitizer is not as effective as washing your hands with soap and water, but it will do in a pinch. Don't replace regular hand washing with sanitizer.
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    Scrub underneath your nails daily. Nail brushes are available for use during nail care, but you can also try using an old toothbrush to clean underneath your nails with soap and water.[6] After washing, use an orange stick to clean beneath the nail. For stubborn debris, soak a Q-tip or small piece of cotton with nail polish remover (preferably an acetone-free version) and wrap it around the end of the orange stick before swabbing beneath the nail.[7]
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    Avoid biting your nails, picking at cuticles and pulling off hangnails. Not only does it damage the nail bed, but even a minor cut or abrasion can harbor bacteria and fungi.[8] Carefully clip off any hangnails with nail clippers.
    • Also avoid trimming your cuticles. Instead, use an orange stick to push them back.[9] There are also cuticle-removing products available on the market, which are safe to use for this purpose.
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    Sterilize nail care tools before using them. Use a cotton ball soaked with alcohol to thoroughly wipe off all of your nail tools before and after every use to avoid spreading infection. Make sure all of your tools are sharp and functioning along with being clean.

Method 2
Shaping Long Nails

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    Soak your hands in warm water before grooming. Use a small, clean bowl filled with warm water and soak each hand for 3-5 minutes. This will soften your nail bed and make clipping and filing easier for you.[10]
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    Decide on a nail shape. The most common nail shapes are square, oval and squoval (a combination of a square and oval – essentially a square shape with rounded edges), but choose the shape that works best for you. If you aren’t sure which shape to choose, check out the shape of your cuticles and then shape your nails similarly.[11]
    • Square nail shapes are the most durable because they span the entire width of the nail bed.[12] Aesthetically they look best on long fingers with wide nail beds, but this shape is popular in general.
    • The next best option is squoval, as far as sturdiness is concerned. This shape looks great on any hand.[13]
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    Use a nail file to shape your nails. There are many types of nail files, including glass files, emery boards and metals files. For shaping the nails, opt for a glass file.[14] The coarser grit allows for more control when shaping.
    • If you need to remove a significant amount of length before you shape your nails, use nail clippers to carefully clip your nails to be slightly longer than your desired length and use a file to eliminate the rest while shaping.[15]
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    File in one direction instead of back and forth. Filing back and forth can weaken your nails. Instead use smooth strokes in one direction when filing, starting with one side and then moving on to the other.
    • Be sure to use your file to smooth away any rough edges after shaping your nails. Rough edges can cause snags and leaving behind any sharp points can be dangerous.
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    Use a nail buffer after you file your nails. This will smooth away any dents, ridges and leftover nail polish from your nail. Buff the entire nail but also the tips of your nails, which will smooth away any residual ridges after filing.[16]

Method 3
Maintaining Long Nails

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    Trim your nails regularly. Having long nails doesn’t mean never cutting them! Once you’ve decided on a desired length, groom your nails often to maintain that length. The length you choose is completely up to you, but remember that the longer your nails are, the more bacteria they can harbor. Diligently keep your nails and hands clean.
    • Trim your nails straight across, then trim the sides as rounded edges.[17] Doing this will avoid breakage and since you'll be shaping them with a file later, don't worry about trimming them to the desired shape now.
    • Everyone’s nails having a breaking point after reaching a certain length, no matter how strong your nails are. The longer the nail, the more easily it can break. Experiment a little to find out what length works best for you.
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    Apply protective layers of topcoat and nail hardeners to your nails. Apply the nail hardener first and then add a fresh layer of topcoat every 1 to 2 days to keep your nails looking great and to help prevent chipping and breakage. If you polish your nails with color, do that first and then apply the additional products.
    • There is a wide variety of nail polish, nail strengtheners, topcoat and nail hardeners on the market, which you can find in the same section as nail polish when shopping. Experiment with different kinds and discover which products work best for you.
    • Avoid changing your polish frequently, because nail polish itself and removing the polish can both be hard on your nails.[18]
    • Decals are popular nail adornments and there are tons of designs available. The best ones to use are the kind you peel off paper and apply to your nail like stickers. Do this after you apply nail color, and then do your topcoat on top of the decals to seal them in.
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    Avoid using harsh nail care products.[19] These can weaken your nails. The worst culprit is nail polisher remover, which is particularly harsh because many removers contain acetone, which is a very aggressive solvent.
    • Limit your use of nail polish remover and choose a brand that is acetone-free.
    • Many nail polish brands use harsh and even toxic chemicals in their formulas. These chemicals can make your nails brittle.[20] If this concerns you, there are nontoxic brands out there that you can use instead.
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    Wear gloves when washing dishes or using household cleaners. Not only are these things harsh on your nails and cuticles, they can also cause nails to become brittle and discolored. Wearing gloves also prevents additional grime from getting underneath your nails, which will reduce bacteria growth and the spread of infection.
    • Try applying a thin coat of petroleum jelly over the entire nail bed of each finger before you put your gloves on. The petroleum jelly will protect your nail and help prevent cuticle irritation and dryness.[21]
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    Use moisturizer to keep your nails hydrated. Doing so will help to strengthen your nails and keep them looking their best. It also prevents your cuticles from getting dry. Use a good hand lotion and rub it into your cuticles and fingernails when applying it.
    • Try rubbing a bit of Vaseline or moisturizer over your cuticles before you go to bed for additional protection and strengthening.[22]
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    Maintain a healthy diet. Be sure to get enough calcium and zinc every day. Calcium plays a large role in keeping your nails strong and zinc deficiency is what causes those pesky little white spots on your nails.
    • Take a daily vitamin supplement in addition to eating well.
    • Consider biotin supplements. Biotin is a nutritional supplement that might be able help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.[23] Always ask your doctor before adding any new vitamins or supplements to your regimen.

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Categories: Nail Care