Jackie's Natural Nail Rescue Routine | Question #1 How Do I Keep My Nails Long and Strong?

I'm finally writing up and sharing my most-asked nail questions in a new series on the blog called Jackie's Natural Nail Rescue Routine! 

First up is my most asked question: how do I get my natural nails to be as long and strong as I do? Well follow my rescue routine detailed below and you can start your journey to long and strong nails! 

Jackie's Natural Nail Rescue Routine 

So, you want to start your natural nail journey? I am so happy for you! Below is my first installment of "Jackie's Natural Nail Rescue Routine" a series I am starting to share the tips and tricks that I use to achieve my perfect mani and I hope it is helpful for you! 

A few things just out of the gate -- this is what works best for me. Nails and nail growth is very a personal experience, and body chemistry plays a big role in how certain nail polishes stay on the nails, and how fast you'll see results. I have found, generally, it takes 3 months of dedication to doing the below for people to see a major difference and stronger nails, patience is key! 

And P.S. I have to say this high up.... your nails do not need to "breathe" in-between manis - the cells are dead already and you can not repair or "fix" your visible nails below are my tips to promote healthy new nail growth so that what grows in is super strong -- which is why this can be a months-long journey! 

Now let's get into the most asked question and my tips:

Question #1: How do you get your nails so strong? 

This is probably THE most asked question, and it is the reason behind of this whole series. The three main things you need to always do are: 
  1. File your nails - do NOT clip them with a nail clipper! 
  2. Always have nail polish on -- and not gels or dip which can damage your nails (more on that below) 
  3. Oil your cuticles at least once daily but preferred 2-3 times a day
With these three things, you will fix almost all of the common complaints I hear -- "my nails are soo thin/weak/flimsy", "my nails peel", "my nails always break", "my nails are always chipping when I have regular nail polish on"...

When I first started doing my nails I didn't know why these steps were so important so they were hard to maintain. But knowing the "how" and the "why" we do these things will help all of us stick to this simple routine and make the biggest difference in our natural nails.

So why do you need to file your nails? Well first you need to understand how nails are formed: Just like the rest of our skin, our nails have layers -- but for our nails, the cells that make them are already dead. Those dead keratin cells form the dorsal, intermediate, and ventral layers of your nail plate. And each of those layers is made up of a few layers of the same type of cell. 

So when you use a nail clipper, most of the time you are slicing into a stack of dead cells, and each end is not perfectly aligned - think cutting into 10 sheets of paper stacked on top of each other...we all know they do NOT come out even - that's what is happening to your nails if you clip them! So please file them! (here is an old video of me filing my nails to show you my process!)

Some files I love: Tweezerman Glass Nail File Tweezerman Piece Neon Hot Nail Files *affiliate links: I make a small commission if you used these links* 

Why do we file? Well, it's much much more gentle on the nails and gives us a lot of control over shape and length. Think about sanding something down with sandpaper vs using an axe to cut chunks out - we want to be slow and gentle with our nails, especially if we have already damaged nails. If you do have really damaged nails to start with, but a good glass file (like this one: Tweezerman Glass Nail File *) can help you start to smooth out those edges and prevent any further splitting or thinning. (PS do NOT buff your nails! Just don't do it, you're making the dorsal layer thinner and opening up more and more opportunities for damage!

Ok now that you know you need to file them, why do I always need nail polish on? Well, as we've talked about already your nails are layers on layers -- and water will get in between those layers when you are washing your hands, doing the dishes, taking a shower etc. and when there is water in your nails, they are at their most vulnerable to bending, breaking and splitting! 

But having a layer of nail polish, a hard outer shell as I like to think of it, helps protect your nails while they are in that state and while they are drying. When you get a chip? Re-do the polish to keep that hard outer shell intact - a missing piece of that armor is just asking for broken nails! 

Some of you might be thinking -- well why can't I just have gels or dip on for this? You totally can IF you know for sure you will be taking care of your nails and the gels how they are supposed to be: i.e. having them applied correctly and removed correctly, BUT from what I have heard from most of my girlies out there - y'all are not doing that so I would say stick with nail polish so you can do this at home! 

Last step - why do I need to oil my nails? Well, that one is easy! Applying cuticle oil can increase circulation around your nails and stimulate nail growth. (Fun fact: the more movement and circulation around your nails = faster growth. So you might see the nails on your dominant hand grow faster than your other hand) 

And just like water -- oil will get in between the layers of your nails, but this is a GREAT thing! By adding oils to your nails, you are giving them the ability to bend but not break. By keeping your hands and your nails hydrated and by locking in all the good oils (just like our hair!) we are creating a healthy base that will keep regular nail polish on for weeks.

Pro Tip: I do a deep/overnight oil soak at least once a month - if you want to give this a try it really saturates your nails and gives them the oils they need for days and days! View pt 1 and pt 2 of my tutorial to learn how I do it!

My favorite cuticle oil of all time is the Cuticle Buddy by Shop NBM -- a hand-mixed oil made in Brooklyn New York! I do have a discount code with them from which I do make a small commission, but I swear by this oil and give it to everyone as gifts! 

If you do not want to buy this oil -- just make sure the one you are purchasing has one of these main oils: jojoba oil, flaxseed oil, or safflower oil -- jojoba is my favorite. 

And that's it to get started! I hope you find this helpful and that it can be a springboard for your own nail care routine. Do you still have questions about nails and nail growth? Leave them down below or shoot me a DM on Instagram @jackiemonttnails and I can answer it there and make many more blog posts for this series! 

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