7 tips for growing your natural nails

For years, I was a fake nail junkie. I freely admit that every kind of fake fingernail has been on my hands, from gel to solar. I'd suffer through the sore nail beds and tender hands just to sport the latest sexy nail look. (My husband loved getting his daily back scratch with my colored claws, and so did the dog.) However, one hand-in-car-door incident convinced me to abandon the artificial nails for my own natural ones. When I started growing my nails, they didn't look so hot but now, I love them.

Growing your natural nails isn't just healthier for fingernails, (and safer) it could save you money. Full nail sets range from $25 to $40 per set with fill-ins averaging around $15 each. That's a hunk of money I'd rather spend on my favorite handbags or some new shoes. These seven tips helped me grow a pretty set of shapely nails in just weeks.

I stocked up on rubber gloves. My years of fake nail wear had weakened my natural nails so bad that I had to wear rubber gloves just to wash the dishes. I kept a pair handy at the kitchen sink at all times and forced myself to get in the habit of wearing them. This helped my nails stay stronger, longer.

I keep my nails at a healthy 1/4 to 1/2 inch length. Anything longer snags and tears, eventually. Once a week, I check out my nails and clip them back to a manageable length and shape.

I always wear a base coat. I like having natural nails but I rarely leave them bare. Wearing a base coat protects my nails by providing a clear shield of protection.

I bought a white nail pencil. For a fast, pretty manicured style, I use my white nail pencil. Roll it on under the nail tips to get that tidy salon look in no time. The good news is, it won't destroy your nails.

I only use fine emery boards. Don't buy the cheap, rough as sandpaper nail files. Buy the fine-grained boards instead. They smooth the nail without sawing away at it and makes smoother curves.

I stocked up on cuticle eraser. I don't know about you, but I've got some seriously thick cuticles. That's the one thing I miss about the salon, they always removed those so easily. I found their secret--cuticle eraser. Use it weekly to remove those cuticles and leave behind a perfectly smooth nail.

I dab my nails with white vinegar monthly. I do love wearing color but once I remove it, my nails tend to look yellow. A cotton ball dabbed with white vinegar keeps my nails looking nice and natural. I do this once a month, maybe more if I went heavy on the color that month.

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