Finally, be very careful with orange sticks or other tools designed to clean under the edge of the nail. “As we age, our nails do not adhere as firmly to the nail bed and so a small amount of trauma can inadvertently pry the nail off of the nail bed and result in onycholysis, which is separation of the nail plate from the nail bed. This is extremely common in women after age 50,” Dr. Stern says.

Play it Safe with Nail Shape

Rule number one: Use clippers to trim the nail, never for creating shape. “When cutting your own nails, leave enough of the nail above the skin and then file them down to your desired length. Most ingrown nails occur because of mistakes when cutting our nails too short or curved,” says Correa. And the best nail shape as we age? The manicurists we spoke with said that a shorter round or oval nail shape can help de-emphasize the volume loss in the fingers and hands that can happen after 50. Nguyen also likes round because it helps prevent hangnails and nail cracks. That said, if you love a long stiletto nail, by all means continue to wear a long stiletto nail.

Camouflage Ridges

“Ridges are a natural part of the aging process, but it can make polish application, especially with sheer colors, more difficult,” says Miss Pop. Use a gentle approach to downplay bumps. “Don’t try to buff ridges away, they’re not going anywhere and you’ll end up just thinning your nail,” she explains. Miss Pop likes ORLY Nail Armor, which can be worn alone to fill ridges or used as a base coat under nail polish.

Ready for color? Opt for cream textures over metallic or matte textures. “Frosted nail polish will highlight the ridges in your nails, making them look deeper and much more dramatic,” says Kandalec.

At the salon, a professional “structured manicure” can help to smooth out the ridges in the nails as well. “I recommend doing a soft gel overlay with soak-off builder gel to smooth out the ridges. It helps the client get a little bit of protection and strength and helps the [gel] polish go on smoother and better, without showing the ridges,” says Kandalec.

Protect Splitting Nails

For split fingernails, a short-length mani (or clear top coat) can protect the nail and hold it together. “As long as there is no redness, pain, or signs of infection, you can use nail polish over splitting nails,” says Dr. Kobets. Miss Pop recommends gel, nail lacquer, or top coat to hold the nail together. “For a client who doesn’t want to wear color or even just glossy top coat, I recommend matte top coat. Matte top coat will look like the natural nail, but give you some protection,” she says. Similarly, longer-lasting and hard manicures with dip powder can help grow out the nail by securing it in place, though Dr. Kobets points out that any polish or gel contains chemicals that can damage and thin the nail and warns against keeping long-lasting powdered or acrylic nails on for too long. “No longer than four to six weeks, as it can predispose the nail to fungal infections,” she says.

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