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Tough as Nails

Get strong, healthy nails that you can't wait to show off -- without sacrificing tons of time or shelling out megabucks at the salon. We asked celebrity manicurists for their handy tips for solving your biggest issues, so you'll look and feel amazing right down to your fingertips.

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Claire Benoist
Strong nails
Claire Benoist
Claire Benoist
Claire Benoist
Claire Benoist
Claire Benoist
Claire Benoist
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Nail 911

Nail 911: Breaking

This is the most common nail problem women have. But you don't have to settle for rough, stubby tips. Swipe on a nail strengthener, like Essie Rock Solid Strength Treatment Base Coat ($8,, to boost growth, and wear it alone or under polish. Keep your nails fingertip length so there's less chance of breakage, recommends Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, the executive vice president and artistic director of OPI. Another easy preventative measure: "A thin coat of regular polish will make nails more resilient. It will protect their surface so the most fragile area at the tip won't break," says Jan Arnold, a cofounder of CND.

Nail 911: Peeling

Even if you're a pro at filing your nails, chances are you may be doing it wrong. Experts agree that you should swap a gritty file for a soft crystal version, such as the Sephora Crystal Nail File ($10,, and file in one direction. "Working in a back-and-forth motion shreds your nails," Sally Hansen celebrity manicurist Tracylee says. "Don't file the sides, because that's where nails get their strength," advises Essie Weingarten, the global creative director of Essie. Extended exposure to water can also make nails peel. "Block water absorption by massaging cuticles with oil," Arnold says. We like CND SolarOil ($7, And because medication, fluctuating hormones, and a diet low in protein can affect nail health, talk to your doc if the fixes above don't help.

Nail 911: Dry Cuticles and Hangnails

"Because we wash our hands so much, using a moisturizing soap is key to keeping nail beds hydrated," Weiss-Fischmann says. Our pick: Thymes Agave Nectar Hand Wash ($13, Stash a mess-free cuticle oil pen, like E.L.F. Essential Nourishing Cuticle Pen ($1,, in your desk, bag, or car, and massage the oil in twice a day. "This will prevent hangnails and act as an instant makeover, giving you a shiny, smooth look," she notes. If you do get a hangnail, trim it carefully with nail scissors and apply a tiny dab of Neosporin ($5, drugstores).

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Nail Tips

Nail 911: Ridges

"As we age, some of us develop nail ridges, just as we get eye wrinkles," Weingarten says. Choose a ridge filler, such as Deborah Lippmann Ridge Filler Base Coat ($18, to even the nail surface and make polish last longer. Avoid buffing nails, which thins them out. "And keep nails hydrated by drinking a lot of water, because dryness can cause ridges," Weiss-Fischmann says.

Nail 911: Yellowing

"Nails are porous, so they absorb polish pigments, especially opaque ones, and can become stained," Weiss-Fischmann explains. "Soak fingers in denture cleanser tablets dissolved in water to whiten them quickly," she suggests. Prevent yellowing with a base coat, like Zoya Anchor Base Coat ($9,

Whip Your Tips into Shape

"To workout-proof your nails, follow the shape of your cuticles and round the edges with a file so there are no sharp corners," Essie Weingarten says. "Your nails should be no longer than your fingertips." Bonus: "Matching your nail shape to your cuticle shape has a slimming effect on your hands," Jan Arnold notes.

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Cool DIY Nail Art

These trendy designs look impressive but applying them doesn't require you to have an art degree.

Center stripe

Using Revlon Nail Art Expressionist in Pastel Punk ($9, drugstores), swipe on two coats of the pink polish. Once nails are dry, flip the tube and use the skinny brush to draw a thin stripe of the gray polish down the center of your nails.

Foolproof design

Size a sticker to each nail, peel off the back and smooth on the sticker with your finger. Fold the excess, then file it away. We love Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in Sweet Marble Floret ($10, drugstores).

Glitter fade

Start with an orange polish, like Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in Mango ($23,, as the base. Dot glittery gold Fergie by Wet n Wild Nail Color in Glamorous ($3, drugstores) along the tip of nails, then lightly spread it toward your cuticles for a sparkly and polka-dot effect.

Python polish

Brush one coat of Essie Nail Color in Crocadilly ($11, over nails. Then layer on a second coat and hold the magnetic cap over your nails, one at a time, for five seconds to produce a snakeskin pattern.

Instant texture

Apply two coats of OPI Liquid Sand in Stay the Night ($9, for salons) to nails for a matte yet glittery effect. To maintain the matte finish, skip a topcoat.

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The Hottest New Hues

Oceanic Blues

Topshop Make Up Nails in AWOL ($10,, Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Muse ($14,, and Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer in Sapphire Siren ($4,

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Floral Pastels

Butter London Nail Lacquers in Molly Coddled, Kerfuffle, and Fruit Machine ($15 each,

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Lunar Whites

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Nail in I Will! ($6,, Orly Nail Lacquer in DayGlow ($9,, and Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Load ($14,

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Creamy Nudes

Tom Ford Nail Lacquer in Mink Brule ($30,, CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in Forever Fawn ($5, drugstores), and Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Beige ($26,

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2013.

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

vanessasherry wrote:

very informative

2/15/2013 08:42:56 PM Report Abuse
jwagner210 wrote:

good tips. But you mentioned several times that nails should be no longer than finger tip--yet all photos showed nails much longer.

2/15/2013 03:05:32 PM Report Abuse
bosarste wrote:

Good information. What about vertical splits?

2/15/2013 12:38:33 PM Report Abuse

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