Five ways to ruin your fingernails

Debby’s in Digit Danger: My fingernails go through seasonal cycles. Sometimes they are long, strong and healthy. At other times, like right now, they split and bend and look ragged. I’ve used Sally Hansen’s Maximum Growth, but it doesn’t seem to do much. Got any ideas? Also, why does Sally Hansen have so many products that all seem to do the same thing (i.e., Hard As Nails, Maximum Growth, etc.)?

The Right Brain Hammers Out A Reply For Her Nails:

It’s hard to say for sure what the seasonal changes are that you’re experiencing, but many things can affect the condition of your nails. Here’s our top 5 finger factors to avoid when your nails look hammered.

1. Excessive environmental dryness

Are your nails worse in the winter? If your nail condition is literally changing with the seasons, it may be due to humidity. Nails, like skin, are subject to the drying effects of the environment. Solution: If your nails are dry and raggedy in the winter use more lotion.

2. Hyper hand washing

Does your job (or hobby or home life) cause you to wash your hands on some occasions more than others? Washing your hands with soap and water can dry out nails. That could be causing an apparent seasonal change. Solution: Use a mild hand wash instead of bar soap and don’t skimp on the lotion.

3. Damage from drying solvents

Are you engaged in any activities that would expose your nails to solvents? For example, home repair projects (like painting a room or varnishing wood trim) could be seasonal activites that negatively impact the condition of your nails. Solution: make your husband do it. (That’s a suggestion from Sarah.)

4. Negative nail product usage

Do you occasionally use nail hardening products? Since you asked about several Sally Hansen products, I’m guessing you do. Those products do make nails harder but they can also make them brittle and more prone to breaking. That`s because they use a chemical called formaldehyde to cross link the keratin protein in nails. Solution: Skip the hardeners and see if it helps. (And to answer your question about why they have so many products that seem to do the same thing, we have one word: Capitalism.)

5. The horrible heartbreak of psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disease that causes your skin to become red and scaly. About half the people who suffer from this condition also have nail problems, particularly pitting, rippling, and/or splitting of the nail. Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis, so you’ll have to amputate the affected fingers. (Just kidding; I wanted to see if you were still reading.) Solution: If you think psoriasis might be responsible for your nail problems, check with a dermatologist for treatment options.