Slipping on mittens is one way to shield your nails from the ravages of winter. But it’s not the only solution. Keep yours strong, healthy, and pretty with this handy guide.
Cold temperatures bring snowball fights, hot chocolate—and, quite often, craggy nails and cuticles. Since winter’s dry air is especially rough on hands, it’s a good idea to have a weatherproofing plan right at your fingertips.
Why Nails Hate Winter
Two words: moisture loss. “Healthy nails contain 18 percent water on average,” says Erin Gilbert, a New York City dermatologist. “In winter, you’re constantly moving between the hot, dry air indoors and the freezing temperatures outdoors. These extremes can reduce the moisture level in your nails, leaving them dehydrated.” Dried-out nails are more likely to break, split, and chip. Compounding the harsh climate conditions are stressors such as hot showers (water draws moisture from nails as it evaporates from skin) and drying products, like polish removers with acetone, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and dishwashing liquid. “Washing dishes is just about the worst activity for nails,” says Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann. Time to break out the rubber gloves.