• The nail matrix is where nails are formed. You can see the white, crescent-shaped edge of the matrix, called the lunula, through the base of the nail.
  • The nail bed is the pink area under the nail. It contains blood vessels and nerves.
  • The nail plate is the actual fingernail and is made of hardened keratin protein.
  • The cuticle is the dead skin that overlaps your nail plate at the base to form a waterproof seal.
10 Natural Nail "Dos" & "Don’ts"
Follow these tips to keep your fingertips strong and beautiful.

Keeping your fingernails looking their best doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does require some regular care. Cuticles should be moisturized and groomed, nails should be properly trimmed, filed and protected. Just follow these common-sense tips.

1) DO moisturize your cuticles daily to prevent hangnails, cracking and peeling. Just before bed is a perfect time. Massaging the cuticle area also stimulates blood circulation, which helps nail growth. When applying hand cream or sunscreen during the day, take an extra few seconds to rub a little on the cuticle area of each finger.
try: Haken Cuticle Oil is an essential fragrance cuticle oil that softens, conditions and moisturizes dry cuticles and nails. Available in six fragrances, including Vanilla Almond.
2) DON’T cut your cuticles. Unless you’re a trained nail tech, you can cause more harm than good because cuticles form barrier that protects the nail. Instead, apply a cuticle remover to soften and dissolve dry, overgrown cuticles. Then use a soft-tipped cuticle pusher to gently push back the cuticles.
try: SuperNail Alpha Hydroxy Cuticle Remover contains natural fruit acids that dissolve dead skin cells. The YCC Clear Plastic Cuticle Pusher is made of hard clear plastic with a soft red tip and can be used at both ends.
3) DO shape your nails with a fine-grit cushion file. Coarse-grit files are designed for use on artificial nails, and are too harsh for natural nails. Avoid metal files; cushion files are gentler on the skin around your nails.
try: Tropical Shine Cushion File in fine-grit pink.
4) DON’T saw your nails back and forth with a nail file; it can weaken the nail’s free edge. Instead, file nails from the corners towards the center in one direction.
try: Suitable for all nails, the Swissco Emery Glass Nail File is a long-lasting, ecological, washable file with rounded and polished edges, smooth-as-glass filing action.
5) DO try buffing natural nails for a healthy shine that won’t chip off! Use a four-way buffer to shape nails, remove ridges, smooth the nail surface and give nails a super shine without polish.
try: The Tropical Shine Four-Way Colossal Nail Buffer is oversized for easy use.
6) DON’T over-buff. Too much buffing can cause friction, build up heat and weaken nails. Always use a super-fine-grit nail buffer to lightly smooth ridges. Buff in an X pattern, lifting the buffer between strokes. If you wear polish, apply a ridge-filler base coat first.
try: The super fine (220 grit) Star Nail Softie Yellow Sanding Block is durable, but won’t scratch natural nails. The “original” Orly Ridgefiller Primer Basecoat fills in nails for a smoother, more polished look.
7) DO revitalize fragile nails with a nail strengthening treatment. Apply daily or as directed for best results.
try: Nail Life Nail Revitalizer Treatment regularly to turn weak, soft or brittle nails into strong, healthy, beautiful nails. This product gets rave reviews!
8) DON’T bite your nails or use them as tools. Both of these activities will, obviously, weaken or break nails. If you get a deep nail tear, mend it temporarily with a clear adhesive tape until it has a chance to grow out.
try: SuperNail Nail Bandage Instant Nail Repair is a hypo-allergenic, high gloss invisible bandage backed with a medical adhesive that lasts for days, even in water. SuperNail Bite No More is formulated to prevent casual biting by producing a mild, unpleasant taste that reminds you not to bite.
9) DO wear nail polish; it can help protect nails and prevent breakage. For a no-fuss natural look, simply apply a topcoat. Make sure your nails are clean and your tips look nice and white before applying any clear or sheer polish.
try: Originails Bubble White 5-Minute Effervescent Nail Cleaner bubbles away stains and discolorations from natural nails in five minutes, as it moisturizes cuticles. Quick-drying, chip-resistant FingerPaints Top Coat contains sunscreen and gives nails a high-gloss shine.
10) DON’T expose nails to household cleansers or harsh chemicals. Even prolonged exposure to fresh water can dry out nails and hands. Wear gloves when cleaning, and apply hand lotion after every time you wash or wet your hands.
try: Multi-purpose Aloe Flex Vinyl Disposable Gloves have an invisible aloe coating on the inside surface that helps to prevent chapped and dry hands. Creative Scentsations Lotion, from Creative Nail Design, contains vitamins A, E, and aloe vera, and comes in six delicious scents, including Wildflower/Chamomile.