Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Get the Digits.

My most ungreen habit has got to be my nails. Like most things in my life, they've seen a lot of flip-flop on the matter.
Some days they're clean, some days they're coloured.
And although these days you can get some pretty green polishes for your nose, your toes, and everything in between, the fact remains that there's no real way to colour them, even semi-permanently.

If you're a little like me, the most important part--coloured or non--is a clean, well manicured hand. So, today's post is dediated to your digits.

Clean, well manicured hands visually start at the cuticle, but the fact of the matter is it starts long before you ever see them. About 6 months before, and it's all in what you eat.

Like all things, there are things to avoid and things to indulge in. Let's start with the things to avoid, because you'll find them to be recurring.

• smoking
• excess sugar
• excess caffeine
• saturated and hydrogenated fats
• processed foods
• never abuse your nails by using them in the place of tools such as screw drivers
• never tear or shew your nails
• never rip your cuticles

• eat good omega-3 fats (oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed)
• get enough protein (peas, beans, lentils)
• get lots of dark leafy greens (kelp, kale, nori, spinach, wakame)
• snack on seeds (linseed, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame)
• load up on whole grains (brown rice, oats)
• drink lots of still pure water

Your skin, your nails, your hair... essentially, they're all made up of the exact same thing, which makes the above list a good list to follow for everyday. But sometimes eveyday needs a boost. I like to make something over and above the standard about once a week.

A smoothie to indulge in:
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup cottage cheese
• 1 cup ice cubes
• 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon liquid calcuim

The calcium and protein available in this smoothie do wonders to strengthen dry, brittle nails, as they are key components in their growth and production.

Chemical solvents in conventional nail polish can, ove time, weaken nails and make them brittle.
The 3 big ingredients in question are: toluene, formaldehyde, di-n-butyl phthalate.

Toluene is a neurotoxin and can potentially cause things like tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, hearing and colour vision--yet it's used to make up 50% of a nail polish.

Formaldehyde is a repratory irritant and has caused cancer in animal studies. It is considered a likely human carcinogen.

Di-n-butyl phthalate accumulates in fat cells and has been linked to reduced sperm count in men, menstrual disorders in women, as well as miscarriages and premature births. (Another huge offender of this ingredient is hair spray.)

Some lacquers free of the BIG 3:

Priti Organic Spa

Spa Ritual

So, you've done your healthy eating to keep your duds looking daper, you've decided to colour or not to colour, now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of the greenest manicure you can give yourself.

First, you must soak your nails to soften the cuticle. Gently massage the nail bed with olive oil and very gently push back the cuticle with an orange wood stick. Use a clean cloth or a cuticle brush to rub away the excess cuticle skin--never cut your cuticles, this can leave open wounds and leave you suseptible to infection.
Next, shape your nail. Always make the row equal to the shortest nail. Shaping nails slightly square will help them stand up to the daily wear and tear that they are subjected to.
Don't forget to give your hands a bit of a massage to get the blood flowing. Circulation is important for nail health.

Simple solutions:

Keep cuticles from drying out by using moisturizer every time you wash your hands.

Don't use nail polish remover more than once a week, it's far too harsh and drying.

Always wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when handling household cleaners, they can be a powerful irritant.

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