Did you know that the appearance of the nails has been used since ancient times as a diagnostic tool? Ever since we started taking the first steps towards understanding our bodies and what makes us healthy or ill, we had the intuition that nails have functions that are more important than how it may seem at first glance and that they can sometimes be good indicators for certain diseases or medical conditions that can put our health to risk.
Now we know for a fact that the fingernails protect the fingertips from injuries and they increase their sensitivity, but also that they enhance the precision grip and function as tools, being used for cutting or scraping. Also, numerous scientific studies and decades of medical experience have shown that any change in the appearance of the fingernails – such as discoloration, thickening or thinning, brittleness, spooning, flatness, splitting, white, black or red spots – can indicate a disease, may be a sign of dehydration, poisoning, nutrient deficiency or a drug reaction. For example, pale nails can be a sign of anemia, malnutrition or a liver disease, yellow nails may be caused by a fungal infection, but they can also be associated with thyroid disease, diabetes or psoriasis, bluish nails may be a sign of a lung or heart problem and dark lines beneath the nails can be caused by melanoma, a dangerous type of cancer.
And though it is always wise to talk to your healthcare provider about any worries you might have regarding the appearance of your nails, at the same time you shouldn’t get so easily scared. Most of the times these changes are associated either with local injury, minor fungal or bacterial infections or a vitamin deficiency. For instance, a lack of vitamin A and vitamin D can cause nail brittleness, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause darkened nails, while fragile nails can be a symptom of vitamin A deficiency. A low protein intake and iron-deficiency anemia can also influence the appearance of your nails.
The shape and structure of your nails are influenced by genetics as well. Your nails may be naturally thicker or thinner and they may be harder or softer. But the good news is that, if you are a healthy individual, you should be able to grow long, beautiful nails, regardless of your genes. For that, start by making sure that you don’t have any vitamin deficiency. Then, take all precautionary measures necessary to protect your nails from any potentially harmful external factors – for example, always wear gloves when washing dishes to put a protective barrier between your nails (and skin, for that matter) and the mix of hot water and chemical substances. And, finally, show your nails a bit more love! They need at least as much attention as to your skin and, of course, a daily routine to keep them healthy and beautiful.
Top 5 essential oils for stronger nails
When it comes to skin, hair and nail care, essential oils are amazing! There are so many out there to choose from and, if you learn how to properly use them, the benefits are uncountable. They nourish and strengthen the nails, they restore moisture and make them more flexible and resilient and they can stimulate nail growth. From our WOW range of organic essential oils, we recommend you the top 5 best essential oils for stronger and healthier nails:
Lavander essential oil nourishes and hydrates the nails and cuticles, it fortifies them and prevents them from breaking and splitting. It is also one of the most used essential oils for nail soaks – usually in combination with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil or argan oil.
Lemon essential oil is a natural nail hardener, but it also works great on damaged and peeling nails. It is rich in antioxidants that nourish and protect the cuticles and can also be used, in combination with a carrier oil, as a moisturising nail soak.
Geranium essential oil prevents the dehydration of the nails. Because it helps retain moisture in the nails, it increases their flexibility and prevents them from becoming brittle, rough and dry.
Eucalyptus essential oil is one of the most powerful natural antifungals. It can be used successfully in treating nail fungus, but it also has antiseptic properties and prevents the cuticles from getting infected.
Rosemary essential oil can help with nail fungus as well, it disinfects the skin, it helps moisturise the nails and cuticles, and it can help restore the natural shape of the nails that have been previously affected by a fungal infection.
There are so many ways to incorporate essential oils into your nail care rituals! Here are just a few ideas you might find helpful:
Top 3 best homemade treatments for exfoliated nails
Hot Oil Nail Treatment
Regardless of whether you’re passionate about cooking or you seldom step into the kitchen, you should always keep olive oil in your home. It is a great choice for a carrier oil whether you’re preparing a hydrating face mask, a nourishing hair mask or, in this case, a hot oil nail treatment.
Hot Oil Treatment Recipe
Put olive oil in a pot and warm it slightly. 10-15 seconds on the stove should be sufficient. Be very careful not to leave it too long! The oil can get very hot very fast and you’ll risk getting burned.
When the oil is warm, remove it from the stove and move it into a ceramic bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil – either Lavender, Lemon, Geranium, Rosemary or Eucalyptus, or a mix of them all – and sink your nails into it. Keep them in for 15-30 minutes. In the meanwhile, the warmth of the oil will help partially diffuse the essential oils, so you’ll also enjoy a well-deserved aromatherapy session. Finally, carefully massage the cuticles and the surface of the nails with circular movements, until all the oil on them gets absorbed.
The heat will help the oils penetrate easier the skin and nails, and will help hydrate and strengthen them. For best results, repeat the treatment at least twice a week.
Homemade Nail Treatment with Olive Oil and Lemon Essential Oil
Fill a ceramic or glass bowl half way with olive oil, then add 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil. Sink your fingertips into it and keep them in for 10-15 minutes. Finally, massage your nails and cuticles, then put on a pair of cotton gloves (do not wash your hands!) and keep them on overnight. Repeat at least twice a week.
Besides strengthening the nails and nourishing the cuticles, the mix of olive oil and lemon essential oil will also help whiten yellow nails back to normal. Yellow nails can be caused by fungal infections, but can also be a side-effect of using nail polish on a daily basis. Also, they are very common in smokers. To enhance the whitening effect of this treatment, you can also add a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Just be careful, in this case, to thoroughly mix all the ingredients, as they will have the tendency to separate.
5 mins Nail Treatment
If you are always in a hurry and do not have the time for any elaborate nail care ritual, simply soak a cotton ball in olive oil, then add a few drops of Lavender oil, or another essential oil of your choice, and gently wipe each nail with it. This will help hydrate and nourish your nails and cuticles and they will get a nice natural shine. You can repeat this daily or every time you want to or find the time for a little nail pampering.
Your Homemade Nail Strengthener
Frail and brittle nails are the nemesis of great manicure. If you’ve tried most of the conventional products out there promising to strengthen your nails and nothing worked, or if you just prefer the natural alternative, then this is a recipe you definitely must try!
Here is what you need:
2 teaspoons of castor oil
3 capsules of vitamin E (open them up and use just the oil)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
3 drops of Lavender essential oil (or any other essential oil from our top 5)
Tip: for a whitening effect, also add 2-3 drops of Lemon essential oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Mix them all together, then soak a cotton ball in it and gently wipe each nail and the cuticles. Repeat every morning and evening, until you get the results you want, then once or twice a week for maintenance.
Keep in mind that it might take some time before you see any “big” results, regardless of the treatment you choose, thought the instant shine and pleasant smell of your nails after each treatment might help keep you happy until then. 🙂