How To Get Natural, Strong, & Beautiful Nails On The Cheap

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embedesPhotographed by Guang Xu.
Sure, everything changes once you become a mom, but that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Elizabeth Street, an international collective of mothers who understand what it’s like to do everything one-handed, is here to help you discover everything from the newest green-friendly beauty products to the chicest home decor ideas — whether you’re raising a little one or not.

As you know, here at Elizabeth Street, we’re fans of the manicure — though we’d skip the gel or shellac ones. However, in the New Year we’ve resolved to be more health-conscious, even when it comes to ostensibly minute details, like how often we polish our nails. Or, speaking to the naturalists among us, how much attention we pay them in general.

The condition of your fingernails and toenails can say a lot about your health and hygiene. Vanity or just cleanliness may have you taking multiple trips to the salon every month. But, no matter how primped and polished your digits may appear, it’s what lies beneath that counts.

Nails, like skin, are made up of epidermal cells. But these particular bundles of cells are tightly packed, considered “dead,” and filled with a protein known as keratin. Like skin, your nails require exposure to oxygen to stay healthy. The keratin in your nails allows water to pass through them. Needless to say, polish prevents all this from happening, which is why chronic salon-goers often notice irregular ridges, peeling, and discoloration on their nails. Yellow staining, while in some cases a sign of infection, is often just the result of contact with pigments and chemicals. Even most water-based nail polishes contain solvents and the film-forming agent nitrocellulose, which is also used in car paints. Additionally, frequent painting can leave nails thinner, brittle, and more susceptible to breakage.

The takeaway? Give your nails some room to breathe, but don’t simply ignore them. In between manis, your fingers and toes should have a week off from polish. Moisturize, strengthen and nourish your nails with treatments full of Vitamin E, coconut and sunflower oils. And, coat on some reinforcing serum for good measure. Click through the slideshow above to check our top five favorite revitalizing products, and get ready for a new you that’s healthier all around, from top to bottom.
1Photo: Courtesy of Dior.
This rich, creamy salve nourishes and conditions cuticles, strengthens nails, and encourages growth. We recommend applying right before bed, since it’s a little on the thicker side.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails, $25, available at Sephora.
2Photo: Courtesy of Burt's Bees.
In our book, Burt’s Bees can do no wrong. This buttery cream, made up of cocoa seed butter, sweet almond oil, and sunflower oil enriches nails with tons of vitamin E. Say goodbye to rough cuticles, hangnails, and dry, brittle nails.

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, $6, available at Drugstore.com.
3Photo: Courtesy of Deborah Lippmann.
This product is great for nails damaged from gel or artificial nail removal. It strengthens and protects nails, plus promotes healthy growth. Most importantly, it’s paraben, formaldehyde, and sulfate-free.

Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock Hydrating Hardener, $20, available at Sephora.
4Photo: Courtesy of Deborah Lippmann.
The intensely hydrating quality of the jojoba and coconut oils in this treatment makes it one of our favorite cuticle fixer-uppers.

Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil, $20, available at Sephora.
5Photo: Courtesy of Nail Tek.
A favorite of nail professionals, Intensive Therapy helps heal weak, thin, soft or peeling nails. In a few weeks you’re guaranteed to notice some serious results.

Nail Tek II Intensive Therapy, $9, available at Drugstore.com.

Sure, everything changes once you become a mom, but that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Elizabeth Street, an international collective of mothers who understand what it’s like to do everything one-handed, is here to help you discover everything from the newest green-friendly beauty products to the chicest home decor ideas — whether you’re raising a little one or not.