Nail Files: What Your Nails Are Telling You


Polished, shellacked, gelled or sparkled–many of us rarely see our nails in the nude. But what happens when the paint comes off? Do your nails hold up in the buff? Well ladies, it’s time to strip down and find out. This month I encourage all of you to take a quick polish vacation for the sake of your health. Believe it or not, your nails can reveal important things about your overall wellbeing. Who knew?

Your nails (and cuticles for that matter) are indicative of a wide range of ailments including stress, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies, infection and even disease. Once the polish comes off, take note of what lies beneath. A healthy nail bed is “smooth without ridges and grooves” with a light pink underlying flesh tone that’s “free of spots or discoloration” (Share Care). So whether it’s a white spot, a yellowish tinge or excessive chipping and peeling–all imperfections should be investigated. Below is a quick list to help you decipher what your nails are telling you…

Yellowish. Most of the time, yellow nails are simply the result of wearing dark nail polish for long periods of time without a proper base coat. Typically, a few days sans polish will do the trick in removing the yellowish tinge. However, if the yellow tone sticks around for longer than a week or so (and/or your nails are reddish, tender or swelling), you may have a fungal infection and should consult a doctor.

Peeling. According to WebMD, your nail plates are “made up of several layers of keratin,” which are sealed together. When hands are routinely exposed to water or even cold, dry air, the top layers of your nails can “delaminate ” and therefore peel. Usually, polish will help seal the layers together. Using a good hand lotion also helps. However, excessive peeling may mean your diet is lacking in a nutrient called linoleic acid. Amp up your linoleic acid intake by incorporating more vegetable oils into your diet such as olive oil, sesame oil or even peanut oil.

Brittleness. Did you know that 20 percent of women suffer from a condition called “brittle nail syndrome” (I never even knew this was a real “condition” until I started researching brittleness for this blog. Oh the things you learn on WebMD…) Usually, an iron deficiency is related to this condition so try eating more dark leafy green veggies and eggs. Biotin can also help (plus I’ve heard it’s good for your hair). More often than not, brittle nails are the result of excessive exposure to–you guessed it–water! If hand lotion and diet changes fail to improve this condition for you, you should see a medical professional.

Ridges. Surprisingly, ridges are not usually something to be alarmed about. As you age, ridges will grow more prominent. However, in some cases ridges may be a manifestation of extreme stress so take heed (and maybe enlist yourself in a yoga class).

Bluish. If your nail beds are bluish, it probably means you are not getting enough oxygen. Definitely see a doctor if you are experiencing this.

Lastly, if you notice anything particularly strange with your nails (dark lines, white or concave nail plates, inflammation or puffiness), please see a medical professional. I’ve only just scratched the surface (pun intended) in the list above…

In most cases, a healthy balanced diet and good personal hygiene will ensure healthy nails and a healthy you. So eat your veggies, take your vitamins, make sure you are getting all your minerals and don’t forget to take a quickie polish vacay to make sure you and your nails are doing okay.

Will you join me in a quickie polish vacation?

XO Lauren

Sources: MSN Health, Medicine Net, WebMD, Inspirationail
Categories: Health, Nails, Primp
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  • Anna James

    I LOVE this, Lauren. Amazing write up. Very interesting and helpful. I feautured you on my blog today in a new FASH FOR LESS with your AMAZING outfit from Sunday. Would love if you checked it out. xo

  • Melissa Panici

    I absolutely love this Lauren! I have been wanting some info on nail care:) I am definately taking a quickie polish vacation with you! Love you bunches! xoxo

  • paige mcnabb

    I’m so glad you blogged about this issue. Thanks Lauren!! I’ve actually been on a nail polish vaction for about 2 months now. But, it has led me to biting them again (I know, BAD!). now that my nails are taking a breather, I need STOP biting them :)

  • Kelli Landry

    I love that you did this! I’ve been using my nails to tell me my health for years. Also, make sure to drink plenty, plenty of water to keep your nails healthy and keep your cuticles from drying out. It’ll help keep you from getting hangnails and all sorts of stuff. I take my vitamins and take some hair, skin, & nail pills and it all does wonders!

  • Cherie LaFlamme

    It’s so funny that you wrote this because just yesterday I took off my dark plum polish and my nails were yellow! But my nails are pretty strong otherwise and with nail polish on, I don’t bite my nails! Today they are light pink with gold corners… love them!

    Check out our post on metallics today, there is even a gunmetal mani in there:

    – Cher

  • veronicag

    I did it for 2 months and I just started back this week.. It felt really good

  • Kellie Norton

    I love this idea! I usually try to have a polish vacation in between every 3 nail polishes just to let me nails “”breathe”” haha :) great idea though!!

    -Kellie N.

  • Lauren Hoffman

    I feel so naked with no polish on! But I can’t remember the last time my nails were completely bare. I’ll give it a try! Great post!


  • TinaMarie Hinkle

    Wow…my nails peel like crazy!! I’m totally going to take heed…thanks, Lauren!!

  • Shellz

    lol..this will be hard for me not to wear any nail polish but I’ll try!

  • Dusty

    Great article – Dr Oz had a thing about nails and mentioned that white spots under the nail indicated a lack of something – but for the life of me I can’t find what it was – my youngest daughter has that and she does not use nail polish at all (age 27). I make two different kinds of nail treatments of natural oils that seems to help those that use it. Since I am a guy I just sand down the ridges and buff them then apply the oils.

  • Sarah Morley

    My nails peel but only my thumbnails! Going to try to incorporate more olive oil into my diet now. Thanks xo

  • Angela Courter

    Especially getting into colder weather I try to keep nail polish off of my toes! Except for maybe a clear coat every once in a while. Give them a long vacation and lather on plenty of lotion!

  • Karolina Cz

    no need to because I don’t wear nail polish so often that would require taking some break :) but Go Lauren!

  • Shelby Stallsmith

    Is a manicure okay with no polish?

  • michelle cannizzaro

    Guess this means I have to take off my candy corn nail polish! I’ll be joining this polish vaca :-)

  • Mariella

    Someone had to say! We must pay attention to our nails, they tell us how is our health.
    And today is the global day of the fight against breast cancer, we must be aware and make them aware!

  • tinamarie

    i have ridges, i never knew it was from stress. i’m not surprised though.

  • Rachel Bonello

    I’m right in the middle of my nailpolish vaca! Gave it a good month of the all natural look, just in time to repaint for Halloween :) Go Health!

    -Rae x0x

  • Kimmy S

    SO helpful! Thank you!

  • Rebecca Dodson

    Thank you for the great tips Lauren! I do think it’s important to add if you have ridges on your nail, this could be a sign of issues with your thyroid. My mom was noticing ridges in her nails right before she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. Of course some ridges are normal, but if you notice them getting more defined, I would suggest a blood test just to be sure your thyroid is up to par!

  • Karina Bullock

    I use the premier dead sea nail kit and i think its great! it has helped to strengthen my nails and prevents them from chipping!

  • Shaden Abu-Hammad

    My nails are SO PINKISH!! even my classmates told me that :/

  • Ashlie Haukereid

    I have flaking/brittle nails and ridges which are caused by my Raynauds Disease. It isn’t often my nails are naked b/c like your blog states it keeps the layers of the nail from flaking off! :)

    Thaks for the post!


  • Linn K

    Great post, Lauren! Think I’ll follow up on that, my nails certainly need a break… Could you maybe do a post about basic nail care too? I need some tips about base coats, lotions, oils, nail polish removers etc. Or maybe someone out there has a great base coat to recommend?:-)


  • Phoebe Evans

    Mine have suddenly got loads of ridges (I’ve never had this before!) and I’ve been under alot of stress recently! That makes so much sense!

  • Lauren Groves

    I’m taking a nail varnish vacation! My nails are smooth but flakey.

  • Caroline Paredes

    Great tips! I never knew these things, but now I know. Thanks.

  • Laurie-Estelle Miquel

    My nail need to be varnished, the poor !!

  • ES Branste

    Loved seeing this article!! However, poor nails can really be a serious issue. Splitting, peeling, colors, moons or no moons… all can show what’s going inside the body ( just like the face). Weak, thin, thick, ridged, discolored and slow growing nails indicate kidney stress.

    Each fingernail is a story about our organs and systems.
    Every nail should have a white half moon at the back of the nail except the pinkie. read more on my blog!

  • Efthymia Pavlopoulou

    I had no idea!!!!!!!!!! I am not so worried though since I have my nails done only once or twice a month…

  • Gina Mackey

    I’m on a permanent nail polish vacation. I wish I could keep my nails painted, but it always chips. :( But, I do try everyonceinawhile to paint my nails to feel girly! :)

  • Ana-Gabriela Barranco

    My nails go with my mood((:

  • cherry_07

    i recommend the vaseline healthy hands lotion its great for your hands are cuticles :)

  • Dusty

    Cherry, may I suggest that you do some research as to the ingredients in the Vaseline Stuff?

  • Monica Castillo

    Yes ma’am! I took my polish off Thursday night and my nails look so healthy :)

  • Isa Reynoso

    My nails are still healthy :) I rarely get them polished, only when I’m attending formal occasions and the like :) but I miss seeing colors on my nails, will probably have my nails done one of these days :)

  • Amy Young

    I was diagnosed with melanoma in my nail bed in April of this year. It is so so so important to keep an eye on your nails and check for the symptoms. For me, it was a straight black line down my nail as well as the nail lifting from my nail bed. I had NO idea skin cancer was possible in finger and toe nails!

    • Samantha Brown

      Thanks so much for sharing! I had no idea this was possible either.

      Sam xx – how to make the most of your twenties

  • Victoria Jane

    My nails peel alot ,i guess wearing nail polish is good for them :)

    please could you watch my youtube channel?

  • Sarah Thaman

    Taking care of your nails is super important! These tips are great, especially for a nail polish junky like me.

  • Monica Herrera

    My nails are telling me, please take care of me, and please use once in a while some nail polish!!!… I own them a good treatment, thanks for the tips!

  • Marvin C.

    Ridges – as I learned last year – may also indicate a Protein defficiency, & white streaksdotsmarks are said to indicate a Calcium defficiency… I think it’s awesome how our bodies give us subtle external signs as to what’s going on inside…

  • Kate Noto

    I will make sure that my nails get a vaca.

  • Lucy-Charlotte

    That was really usefull!!!

  • Abby Dennison

    my nails went bright yellow after wearing bright coral nail varnish for a few day :( i had to grow my nails out for a few weeks and keep filing them until it eventually left!

  • vanessa buyck

    Thanks Lauren for this post. It’s just what I needed. I’ve been having some problems with my nails for a while now. They keep peeling off. When I’ve got nail polish on them, they seem fine, but when it comes off my nails start to peel off. I will look for a better hand and nail creme and I’ll try improving my diet. Thanks for the help

  • Franci Gire

    Good to know. I just bought a foundation to help keep my nails pretty too!

  • EmilyAlyssa

    I was just looking into Biotin for my nails and hair growth and as a warning, after doing some extensive research I found out that biotin makes ALL of your hair grow (arms, legs, everywhere) and it also hinders your body from being able to absorb some of the other nutrients it needs. I’m not sure if it does all that if you’re just taking small doses but just a thought, I didn’t want to play with it and chance messing with something else so I’ll find another way to fix up my nails :)

  • EmilyAlyssa

    I was just looking into Biotin for my nails and hair growth and as a warning, after doing some extensive research I found out that biotin makes ALL of your hair grow (arms, legs, everywhere) and it also hinders your body from being able to absorb some of the other nutrients it needs. I’m not sure if it does all that if you’re just taking small doses but just a thought, I didn’t want to play with it and chance messing with something else so I’ll find another way to fix up my nails :)

  • emogoestofashionweek

    Have a look at my tutorial on how to do Burgundy Stiletto Nails :)
    They’re fab! And don’t forget to follow me please <3

  • Nathan

    I’m very surprised this isn’t in your article, but it has to do with ridges as well. Ridges from nail bed to tip mean different things than from side to side. Side to side is a common sign of a skin condition under the nail. Black lines (blood) are also a sign of this. I’m not sure if it’s psoriasis or eczema but it’s one of the two.

  • becks

    Other than a nail hardener, I haven’t worn nail polish in probably 2 months. My nails have never been so strong, thick and resilient. They also grow like crazy. Amazing what a break from those harsh chemicals do.

  • Jaqui

    There is something your nails can tell you about your health even with polish on. A raised nail bed is a symptom of respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema [ aka COPD ] and you should talk to your doctor asking for a lung function test. I found that out from an ambulance paramedic while on my way to hospital in one.

    That test takes an hour, but it will give the doctor the best picture of your lung function. I get it done twice a year, but I do have severe COPD and severe Asthma. I developed asthma as an adult.



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