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That Manicured Look

Your fingernails can suffer when you expose them to cold conditions and such harsh chemicals as cleaning products, detergents and strong soaps, according to Columbia University in New York City.

As a result, your fingernails can become dry, irritated and weakened.

Healthy fingernails should be pink, firm and slightly lustrous. To keep them that way, you need to protect them. Wear rubber gloves when you use chemicals and cleaning products. Be conservative in your use of nail polish, nail polish remover and other products such as nail hardeners.

Regularly moisturize your fingernails and the surrounding skin. Use lotions or creams that contain lactic, glycolic or malice acid.

Your diet can also affect your fingernails. You need to include enough iron, calcium, silicon, protein, zinc, and vitamins A, B complex and C in your diet for your nails to stay healthy.

A fingernail-friendly diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds and non- or low-fat dairy products.

Remember that changes in fingernail appearance can also be caused by skin diseases such as psoriasis and fungal infections and other conditions, including genetic nail disorders and even skin cancer.