The need-to-know trick for healthier nails

It's this two-day nail polish cleanse. Here's how to do it in 7 easy steps.

Nail_polish_cleanse Step aside, mud masks. There’s a new kind of detox that’s taking top priority on many beauty to-do lists: the nail polish cleanse. According to Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder of Los Angeles’ cult-fave Olive & June salons, nails need to take a break, just like your skin and digestion does.

“While they’re not as porous as your skin, nails still absorb,” explains Gibson Tuttle, who’s currently celebrating the second anniversary of her Beverly Hills location and the debut of a second Olive & June outpost in Pasadena. “Frequent use of gel or polish will cause your nails to get weaker. If you give them a break, even for a couple of days, it’ll make a huge difference.”

Here, the natural mani/pedi pro breaks down seven steps to a nail polish cleanse—starting with removing your polish with a non-acetone product. Picking off your nail polish (whoops!) to kick off your cleanse is not advised…

1. Go bare for at least 48 hours. “If you’re going to get your nails done continually, you have to take one- or two-day breaks in between,” says Gibson Tuttle, who stresses that longer polish-free intervals are preferable. If that seems unbearable, consider this: “As the nail gets damaged, it’s harder for polish or gel to stick,” Gibson Tuttle says. “So you really want to make sure you’re promoting healthy nail growth—otherwise, your manicure won’t last anyway.”

2. Get obsessive about cuticle oil. “Cuticle oil is everything,” says Gibson Tuttle. “Not enough people realize that. It makes your nails grow in so much faster and healthier.” She recommends applying oil twice daily during a nail polish cleanse; either a super-nourishing cuticle oil like Vapour Organics‘, or straight-up almond oil will do the trick.


3. Shape your nails. “Shaping and cuticle care are so critical to making nails look nice,” says Gibson Tuttle—especially when they’re bare. Spring for a polish-free manicure, like Olive & June’s Dree option, and—this is your only polish-like treat on the cleanse—top it off with RGB’s Liquid Buff treatment, which helps nourish and regenerate your tips.

4. Don’t forget your feet. It’s easy to slack on pedis if your polish stays intact for weeks. “But the point of a pedicure is not just polish,” says Gibson Tuttle. “I’ve had people come in after two months, and when we take their polish off there are white marks on their nails—it’s dehydration.” For best results, give your toes a polish cleanse every couple of weeks and rub in cuticle oil.

5. Supplement accordingly. What you eat also has a major impact on nail health. “I like to drink tons of water and take prenatal vitamins,” advises Gibson Tuttle. But there are lots of high-quality beauty supplements targeted to nails, too.

6. Detox during a vacation. A good time to do your nail cleanse is during a beach vacation, says Gibson Tuttle. “Between the water, which causes polish to chip, and the sun, which loves to fade colors, a vacation will inevitably wreak havoc on your nails. So it’s nice when you can embrace it and have that moment of detox.”

7. Go 5-free. When your nail polish cleanse ends, it’s important to remember that not all lacquers are created equal. “Some formulations are cleaner than others,” notes Gibson Tuttle, who notes that 4- and 5-free polishes are “better for the nail long-term.” Look for brands without formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, and camphor—like these. Did we mention nude is still a hot color for fall? —Erin Magner

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(Bottom photos: Olive & June)


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