Nailing it Over 50

My polish collection

My polish collection

Like your hair, skin and body, aging impacts your nails too. They are greatly affected by internal changes as well as dietary ones. Rate of growth slows over time and nails may become more brittle and prone to breakage from cleaning agents, water, polish remover and other products applied to them. You might notice discoloration, dryness and ridges too.

Nail color and arty enhancement has exploded into a huge part of the beauty business the past few years giving everyone an opportunity to have creative expression literally at their fingertips. But how to do it in a non -aging way?

First, hands are a real barometer of age so keep them looking as youthful as possible. Give them the same TLC you do your face by applying retinols, exfoliating scrubs, spot faders, peels and SPF protection to your hands. I know, I know, we are on a slippery slope toward using this stuff on our entire bodies! But there WILL be a payoff.

Do wear rubber gloves when doing dishes or cleaning. Apply nail oil twice a day and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Keep nails short and groomed, even if you are not a polish aficionado. Buffed nails look healthy and professional too. Depending on your lifestyle you may dip your fingers and toes into bright, dark and trendy colors or keep them a neutral light pink, creamy white or nude for the boardroom. But never sport dagger-like long pointed nails which scream OLD. Speaking of nude, you may want to try the “mannequin finger” hatched by back stage manicurists. This match-your-skin look gives the illusion of longer, thinner fingers. Niche brand Hipp & RGB makes a shade for every ethnic skin tone. Almost any color will look younger and fresher on the “on trend” short nails. I am currently having a blue and green moment, nudging Spring into my life, ready or not. And with toes, go ahead and go crazy!

Beach toes!

Beach toes!

Although nail salons are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, I was surprised to read that 80% of women do their own nails. If you do, use a base coat, ridge filler and top coat with your color. And extend the life of your manicure by applying another layer of top coat the next day. I go the DIY route about 75% of the time because I like to change color frequently, but try to have a professional manicure and pedicure once a month to keep my cuticles, nail bed, calluses and heels under control. But for heaven’s sake, remove your polish the minute it starts to chip. Bare nails are infinitely more attractive than tacky chipped ones. You’ll find sheer, light colors much more forgiving and easily touched up.

Springy green, part of the citrus trend

Springy green, part of the citrus trend

I am a fan of natural nails and keep mine strong with Nailtiques Formula 3 (for hard, dry, brittle nails). They make a formulation for every nail type. But if you are truly nail challenged, you may opt for acrylics. If you do, bear in mind that infection can result from moisture getting between acrylic tip and your nail, or from pushing back or cutting cuticle. FYI, some people are allergic to either the component or adhesive involved. And fumes are a major issue so be sure your salon is well ventilated. Just sayin’.

Gels are wildly popular now with their promise of a two –three week chip free manicure. But they come with a price: UV exposure from the curing lamp (3 to 5 times stronger than a tanning bed) and a 5-10 minute soak in harsh acetone. The alternative removal method, filing down with a drill, is even worse, leaving nails thin and fragile. Is it really worth it? You may be trading a few weeks of convenience for a world of hurt.


When doing your own nails, leave your thumbs for last. That way you can make corrections with them first and not ruin the edges. Now why didn’t I think of that??


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4 Responses to Nailing it Over 50

  1. Diane says:

    Zoe…I am sooooooo enjoying your posts! Thanks for including me….Diane

  2. Diane White says:

    Zoe, I love your blog! I can’t do the blues and greens but I do like a pastel nude on mu fingers and for the summer a goo red , coral or pink. You have inspired me to have my toes done professionally. That is always such a treet, especially done at a spa.
    Do glad Spring is here!

  3. Diane White says:

    I’m not such a bad speller, just have big fingers!

  4. Johanna says:

    Great nail & hand advice– but as an artist I’ve given in to the arts. My hands are always in water washing off colors or dirt, or covered with chalky drying pastels, and are old & wrinkled from years of use. My nails are a little better but constantly breaking from doing what they shouldn’t be doing. However, when I garden, they always grow and are very strong. From the minerals in the soil?
    It’s too late for me but there’s hope for the other readers.


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