All Your Worst Nail Issues Solved

We'd argue that we take pretty good care of our nails — we certainly love a manicure around these parts. But proper hand-maintenance should go way beyond the salon chair. In reality, plenty of us tend to gloss over our worst nail issues — textured, yellowing, and brittle nails to name a few — with a swipe of our favorite pigment.

So, how to take our hands from decent to mad decent? We chatted with two nail techs to get the low-down on how to fix the most common undercover problems.

Yellow Tinted Nails
Your nails can go yellow for a few different reasons, such as smoking or cooking with certain spices, but both techs say that the main culprit is most likely that you aren't using a good base coat. You want to make sure the polish is not expired and of salon-quality. Top brands like Zoya, OPI, and Essie are usually a safe bet. "I love Essie First Base, it's green-tinted, which helps counteract a yellow tinge," says Gina Eppolito, a NYC-licensed nail technician.

"This especially happens with dark colors, red, purples, or anything super deep," says Elissa Schell, manicurist and member of the education team at Paintbox Salon in NYC. But don't worry, she has a pretty stealthy DIY to get your nails back to white with a baking soda and water mix. Simply let the paste sit on your nails for a few minutes, and you'll see instant results. Eppolito says soaking your fingers in lemon water can also help.

Finger Fungus
If your yellow nails are also thick, brittle, and slightly lifted at the your nail bed, this is much more serious and points to a possible fungal infection. Drop everything and go to a doctor, says Schell. "That isn't something you want to bring into the nail salon," she says. "I'm not a doctor. There isn't anything I can do to help you." If you've recently given yourself a manicure at home, Eppolito says to toss any tools that may have come into contact with the fungus, and stop manicuring until its cleared up. "If you want to go a more natural route, try dabbing some tea tree oil on the fungus twice a day," she suggests. But you really want to make sure it doesn't spread, so if it looks like its getting worse, make that appointment!

Hang Nails And Split Tips
Hang nails (those annoying pieces of skin that are on the side of your nail) and split tips (when your nails peel off at the top) are actually caused by the same thing — lack of moisture. But strangely, if you're slathering on lotion to try and combat the problem, you're going about it wrong. "Lotion particles aren't small enough to penetrate your nail plate, but that's why we have cuticle oil," Schell explains. She suggests rubbing cuticle oil around your nails before bed (you'll wash it off if you do it during the day), to keep these little annoyances at bay. For an instant fix, Eppolito says to clip your hang nails and buff your split tips. "But don't pick at the hang nails, or else they'll tear or bleed." Ouch.

White Spots
Sorry guys — there isn't much you can do about a white spot on your nails. "A lot of people think this has to do with a calcium deficiency, which it can," Eppolito says. "But more often than not, it's just a bump or a bruise." Since these bruises happen below the surface of the nail, you can't actually do anything about it except let them grow out, or yes, paint over them. Bummer, man.

Brittle Talons
Just like some people are born with brittle hair, others are born with brittle nails. It's an unfortunate part of the genetic lotto. Eppolito suggests using a protein-rich base coat like Duri Rejuvacote, but the best course of action is to just work with what your mamma gave ya."You probably can't keep them too long," Schell says. "But that doesn't mean you can't get your nails done! You just need to stick to a shorter length [to prevent breakage]."

Textured Paws
As you get older, your nails can get a little lumpier and more ridged. It's just a fact 'o life. Luckily, there are a wide variety of ridge filler base coats that can help keep your digits looking in tip-top shape, no matter the damage. Schell suggests this on one by Deborah Lippmann. Eppolito co-signs for ridge fillers, but she recommends some light buffing or a gel mani as well. "I also think that gel manicures are a good option for women with textured nails," she says. "Since the polish is thicker, it helps to even the nail out."
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