6 Tips For Pretty, Nekkid Nails

Because who can keep up a perfect manicure ALL the time? Not me, I'll tell you that much.

I’m a lady who likes to keep her nails polished, but sometimes life’s demands take over and my nails are not really at the top of my priority list. So when I absolutely don’t have time for a fresh mani or I'm just bored with my color choices and want to give my nails a break, I ditch the polish altogether.

I’m usually pretty obsessive about my nails and in my mind, there’s no excuse for me to have raggedy nails when it's so easy to make them look beautiful even if they're completely bare.

These are my go-to tips:

1. Give them a good shape.

This is one of those times when uniformity is encouraged. Nails that are equal length and shape look the best and there are a number of styles to choose from. Short and square is my go-to style when I’m super busy and don’t have time to fuss with my nails, but when they start growing longer, I like to switch to an almond shape. Until one breaks. Then I have to break out the clippers and show the rest what happens to traitors. I figure it’s better to cut my losses early because the chances are at that point they’re all going to break off anyhow. Clip-clip.

2. Make them shine like the Chrysler building.

A good multi-sided buffer is the au natural nail’s best friend. A good buffing enhances natural nail shine and discourages splitting and peeling. Coconut oil also serves as an excellent alternative to clear polish for a little added sparkle. It not only absorbs rapidly, but it also nourishes nails and cuticles.

3. Never leave home without an emory board.

This is probably the most important tip when it comes to maintenance of nekkid nails. At the first sign of a break, I can do damage controlright away. Plus, if I don’t have time to go through all of the steps of a proper manicure, a few swipes here and there on the elevator, waiting in the car, or in the grocery line holds me over just fine. When I kept my infant niece over the summer this was pretty much the only nail maintenance thing that I could keep up with.

4. Moisturize and push back your cuticles every time you wash your hands.

I’m not big on trimming my cuticles because it tends to make the surrounding skin look rough and flaky, kind of like an aligator hide. I’ve found that gently pushing my cuticles back is much easier and more effective. I try to remember to do this whenever I wash my hands and reapply my moisturizer. However, if they’re already sufficiently pushed back,I’ll just massage them with the lotion or coconut oil (whichever is around) to keep them supple. I keep a small bottle of one or the other on hand at all times -- pushed back, moisturized cuticles give the appearance of a longer nail bed, and healthier looking nails.

5. Learn to love gloves.

Cleaning agents are often abrasive and tend to dry out the skin and weaken nails -- nobody wants that. That's why I (try to) wear a cute pair of rubber gloves when it's time to scrub-a-dub my place. Dirty dishes are my pet peeve; I like to wash out my dishes as soon as I’m done. The problem is that sometimes I lazily ignore the gloves that are right at the sink. Torn and snagged nails can happen easily when nails are damaged by chemicals and water exposure. Don’t be like me, wear your gloves.

6. Take vitamins. For me, having well-balanced, healthy eating habits is one of the best ways to get my vitamins and nutrients. However, since I’m getting older and have somewhat of a dairy restricted diet, getting enough calcium is a concern for me. I mostly eat right, but to make sure my body gets all of its essentials I pop a multivitamin daily along with vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fish oil. I definitely notice a difference in my nail growth and retention when I slack on taking my vitamins. Of course, consult with your doctor to discuss your specific needs.

Keeping my nails in good shape by incorporating these habits makes me feel like I kind of have my life together even when the proverbial house is on fire. Hey, sometimes it’s about the small victories. I’ll take my wins where I can.

What tips do you have for preserving your natural nekkid nails when your life is totally busy?