12 Ways You’re Ruining Your Nails


t turns out that some of your daily habits and style choices could be secretly wrecking your nails. From torn cuticles to brittle tips and everything in between, there’s a chance you’re unknowingly causing all sorts of damage to your digits.


Here are a few ways you might be ruining your nails without even realizing.

You wash the dishes without using gloves.

dish soap sponge washing dishes in sink
Washing detergent can dry out your nails and nail-bed. 

Remembering to wear protection definitely applies to cleaning up around the house if you want to keep your nails looking great.

Nails also swell up in water, which can lead to cracking and damaged nail beds. Resist the urge to tackle that pile of dishes until after you don a sturdy pair of gloves.

You use nail polish remover.

nail polish remover
Nail polish remover strips away natural oils. 

If you change your polish like you change your clothes, chances are that you’re pretty familiar with the harsh smell and drying nature of acetone.

As Self explained, this solvent is really effective at breaking down the resins and color pigments in polish. This might leave your nails looking and feeling brittle.

One way to keep indulging in your love for nail polish is to use a non-acetone remover. These typically contain gentle solvents such as ethyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol and propylene carbonate. These types of removers don’t work as quickly as acetone, but they’re less damaging to your nails.

You absentmindedly pick off your polish.

chipped nails iStock
Picking off your nail polish also removes the important top layer of your nails. 

OK, so if nail polish remover is actually damaging to our nails, surely manually chipping away at that polish is better?

Nope. It turns out that the top layer of a human nail is composed of cells called onychocytes. These little cells are stacked together like fish scales and help keep the nail strong.

This can cause your nail to become thin and cracked.

You use hairspray or perfume regularly.

Woman Shopping for Perfume
Hairspray, lemon juice and perfume break down nail polish. 

If you’ve noticed that your nails look especially sad after you’ve doused your ‘do in hairspray, it’s not your imagination.

The alcohol in hairspray and perfume is also quite drying, which can make even natural nails more brittle.

Of course, if you’re pressed for time and just want to do away with some chipped polish, spraying a bit of hairspray on your fingers and rubbing it off with a cotton pad is a handy trick. Be sure to wash your hands afterward though to prevent the aforementioned drying effect.

You use your nails as tools.

Bubble Wrap
Use the proper tools to make sure that your nails don’t get damaged. 

We’re all guilty of using our nails to pry open a key ring, scrape off a price sticker, or puncture the plastic wrapping on a store-bought lunch. However, using your nails as tools puts them in danger of snapping or tearing.

The solution? Spend a few moments looking for an alternative to attacking a problem with your precious nails.

“I suggest taking the time to open cans, jars, boxes, etc., with scissors or a tool,” beauty expert Katie June Hughes told TODAY. “You will save your manicure if you do!”

You remove your cuticles.

Nail Salon
Completely removing your cuticles can leave your nails vulnerable for bacteria and fungus. 

Even though your nail technician might swear that your manicure won’t be the same without clipped cuticles, removing that little ring of skin at the base of your nails is actually a pretty bad idea.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, removing the cuticle  can damage a nail. That’s because the cuticle is a barrier that protects the nail against things like bacteria, fungus, and yeast. By clipping it away or dissolving it with chemical removers, you’re leaving the nail bed exposed.

Instead of removing your cuticle completely, try pushing them back gently with a washcloth after you’ve taken a hot shower.

You bite your nails.

nail biting
Biting your nails can lead to ingrown nails and infected cuticles. 

This one is probably obvious, but gnawing at your fingertips isn’t working wonders for your nails. Besides leading to a ragged-looking manicure, biting your nails could lead to irreversible damage.

One study even found that chronic nail biting can even lead to permanent shortening of the fingernails.

In fact, the Mayo Clinic warned that long-term nail biting can actualy damage your teeth and increase the risk of colds and other infections by transferring germs from your hands to your mouth. Just a few more reasons to break the habit.  

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