Washington: Having beautiful nails is all about caring for them correctly, according to dermatologists. Nails need to be moisturized, especially after removing nail polish, said board-certified dermatologist Phoebe Rich, MD, FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, Portland.

"Always protect your cuticles. Never cut or forcefully push back your cuticles as doing so could lead to an infection. If you must push them back, only do so gently after a shower or bath," she suggested.

Dr. Rich has shared more top manicure and pedicure tips:

While most nail salons follow strict cleanliness and disinfection guidelines, look for the following when visiting a salon:

Check if your nail technician has the necessary experience and/or license, the dermatologist said.

Also check whether the stations is clean, the nail technician wash her hands between clients, are there dirty tools lying around. And do not hesitate to ask how they clean their tools.

Next shave your lower legs after getting a pedicure, not before. That means not shaving your lower legs for at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure, he advised. If you nick yourself while shaving, a pedicure could put you at risk for an infection, she warned.

If you get frequent manicures and pedicures, consider purchasing your own tools to be used at the salon, she suggested.

In addition, she asked to check that the pedicure footbaths and filters are thoroughly disinfected before you use them. If they are improperly cleaned, they can harbor bacteria and fungus, she said.

When opting for a bright red or orange polish, one can prevent discoloration by applying an extra layer of base coat, Dr. Rich said.

If your nails become yellowed and discolored from the polish, your nails should return to normal color over several weeks if the same color is not reapplied, she added.

She said that there is no scientific evidence that immersing nails in gelatin makes them stronger. Polishes that contain strengthening ingredients increase nail stiffness, which may make nails break more frequently, she noted.

Dr. Rich warned against wearing artificial nails to cover up nail problems, as she said they might make them worse.
"If you wear artificial nails, know what products are used as the substances can cause an allergic reaction in some people," said Dr. Rich.


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