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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, essie.com), 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, sephora.com), 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, cnd.com). 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, thymes.com). Stash a mess-free cuticle oil pen, like E.L.F. Essential Nourishing Cuticle Pen ($1, eyeslipsface.com), 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).