Stop Neglecting Those Toe Nails: Your Feet and Shoes Will Thank You

With all the walking and running you do every day your feet are could be the most overloaded parts of your body. And this is even more true for the natural toe protectors: your toenails. They put up with all the changing weather conditions around you, the motions of your body, the shoes you wear, and intruders like bacteria and fungi

First of all, if you have a particular stubborn toenail problem it’s best to visit a professionally trained nail technologist, but otherwise you yourself can do plenty to keep them in good condition.

What are toenails?

Toenails protect the tops of our toes and are made from the protein Keratin. This protein is produced by Keratinocytes: cells that live at the beginning of the toenail. This is where new nail material is constantly being produced. These new cells push the already formed nail plate forward so that it ‘glides’ slowly to the front of the nail bed. This is how nails grow.

How fast do toenails grow?

With a speed of 1 to 1.5 mm a month (which is about 0.3 inch), toenails grow twice as slow as fingernails. Do they seem to grow faster in summer? They do! Nails grow faster in warm weather. The nail of your big toe takes about 12 months to completely renew. This makes it even more important to take good care your toenails.

For starters, you need to trim them the right way.

The Right Way to Cut Your toenails

Not everyone likes long toenails, but a lot of women prefer to see a thin edge of the white part of the nail. When your toenails are too long however, this could cause problems with your feet when you wear closed toe shoes. Also, any sharp corners or jagged edges can get your toenail caught in fabric, plants, or stones which could tear the nail.

So what is the best way to trim your tree climbers?

Cut straight

The best time to trim your nails is when you have just come out of the shower, bath, or after a foot bath. Your toenails will be soft. First, loosen up your cuticles with a cuticle pusher. Cut your nails straight across, and don’t round off the corners. If you trim the corners they might end up growing into the skin and cause ingrown toenails. A pedicure technician will use special pedicure scissors, but you can use manicure scissors or a nail clipper.

Not too short

When you trim your nails it’s best to leave a narrow line of white across the tip. This protects your toes from your shoe. Otherwise, the nails might curl down when you walk and then grow in. Another reason to leave a protective edge is that this blocks other external influences — like fungi — from settling under your nails.

Clean your toenails

Asides from special cleaning methods to getting rid of specific nail problems this is the basic way of cleaning your toenails:

First, wash your feet

Because toenails are a part of your foot you should wash your feet every day. Use lukewarm water and avoid using any soap. Do not leave your feet in the water too long as this can dry out the skin. When you’re done dry your feet off thoroughly, especially between the toes. Do not put on your socks right away and give your feet a moment to completely dry.

Once a week let your feet soak in a foot bath with essential oils. Also, you can research foot scrub recipes and implement to exfoliate dead skin cells and purify your skin.

Get the dirt out

Your toenails collect a lot of dirt, for instance, buildup of keratin debris, sweat, lint, street dirt, and residue of moisturizing creams. All this buildup attracts bacteria and fungi and causes the infamous ‘old cheese smell’.

The best way to clean under your nails is after your weekly soak. Once you cut your nails use a toenail cleaner to remove the dirt. If you have ingrown nails use a special ingrown toenail cleaner. Finish off by brushing away the dirt with a nail brush that has two sides: one with soft bristles for the top of the nail and one with stiff bristles for under the toenails. Rinse off your feet with lukewarm water.

Making your toenails pretty

If you have any stains on your nails use lemon juice to remove the stains. When your feet have dried thoroughly apply a foot moisturizer, and making sure to cover your toenails and cuticles too.

Once the moisturizer has been absorbed it’s time for nail polish! First, apply a sticky basecoat to protect your nail. Once it dries apply nail polish in 2-3 thin layers and finishes off with a protective clear top coat. Nail polish actually takes 24 hours to dry, so don’t do this before sleeping, and wear open toe shoes for the day.

Keep to this routine for your feet and toenails, and you will walk away on air!

  • Updated October 31, 2017
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