Once a flawless mani is ruined by that first heartbreaking chip, some of us tend to numb the pain by letting our fascination with picking at things take hold. Of course, that should have been a red flag: Picking at things, whether scabs, pimples, and other unwelcome blemishes on our bodies, is almost always a bad idea.
But it’s so hard to resist the urge to chip away at our nails, and sometimes we give in. But here’s why you might want to put your picking habits on hold: It turns out that peeling off nail polish is one of the absolute WORST things you can do for your tips.
Chipping off lacquer actually takes part of your nail off with it. And if you do it repeatedly, you’ll keep removing the top layer of nail until what’s left is weak and brittle. Basically, you’re ruining your nails, even after all that time and/or money you spent trying to make them look pretty.
And if you thought you were safe because your nails seem to grow quickly, you might want to reconsider. While nails grow between 0.5 and 1.2 millimeters a week, an injured fingernail can take six months to fully grow back. So if you’ve done some serious damage, you’re in for a long healing process.
Looking for ways to get your tips back on track? There are a few things you can do. Keep your nails trimmed short and slick on a base coat that is packed with vitamins—biotin and vitamin B7 are good ones. You can also take those supplements in pill (or gummy!) form. Omega-3 fatty acids are said to be good for fueling nail health, and can also be purchased as supplements. And finally, stay hydrated (water really is the secret to beauty, isn’t it?).
If your nails are in decent shape in the first place, the best thing you can do is just use nail polish remover to take off your chipping polish when you get the urge to start peeling at it. When you start noticing healthier nails, you’ll be so happy you did.