Most of us want long fingernails, but there comes the point when they become too much to the point. Unless you’re going for a Guinness World Record (please don’t!), you’ll want to cut them at some point. If you work on a computer, nails that get too long can get in your way and slow you down. Do you really want to stay late just to get your work done? Didn’t think so.
And if you’re not at a desk all day, perhaps the novelty of long nails will wear off when you can’t text or create memes as easily. For each of us, that comfort level for nail length can vary, but once we reach that threshold, we cut them off. Hopefully at least! Please don’t bite your nails! We don’t even want to discuss the disgusting dirt, germs, and bacteria that are lurking underneath your nails at any given time.
So, what would happen if you don’t cut your fingernails at all though? The answer greatly depends for both hands and feet.
For hands, your nails will simply grow longer. This might seem like a blessing at first, but we assure you it’s not. Like the hair on your head, you have to take care of it and nurture it or it will look unkempt and out of control.
And if you have to use your hands for your job, there will come the time when you just can’t stand your nails getting in the way, or inevitably, one of them breaks. That will likely be enough for you to trim down the other 9 nails promptly.
For feet though, if you can stand to have your toenails extending beyond your toes, you don’t have too long before those become a problem. Depending on how quickly your nails grow, you maybe have about 6 months, give or take, before they break on their own. When you walk, the force you use on your feet to push off from the ground will snap the ends off in due time. Not really the way you want to go with this, for sure!
Assuming your nails are healthy on both your hands and feet, they will grow at a steady pace until you either break one or cut them off. Again, you don’t want to be a World Record holder for long nails. They will grow and grow and wind and look like gazelle antlers coming from your fingertips.
So, if you want to maintain the health of your nails, you should keep them trimmed to appropriate levels that work for you. If you keep reading, you’ll find out more about nail growth and how it affects you, plus how to keep your nails the healthiest ever!
What can happen if you neglect your nails after you stopped cutting them?
Ok, so it’s one thing to let your nails grow a bit. But what if you just stopped cutting them and let them be? We don’t advise that because part of personal hygiene is taking care of your nails on your hands and feet.
Everyone gets lazy from time to time. You don’t have to have perfectly polished nails if you’re too busy to get to the salon or you do your nails yourself and you’ve got little kids at home that won’t let you sit long enough to let your nails dry. While polishing your fingernails and toenails will always give an appearance that you’re well-put-together, it’s not always necessary to do that, especially if time doesn’t allow. Simply keeping your nails well-groomed by trimming them, cleaning them, and buffing them will give them a healthy and nurtured appearance even if you don’t go for a manicure or pedicure.
If you don’t take care of your nails and you just let them grow wild, be forewarned that much can happen, and none of it is good. Read on to find out!
Your fingernails can develop a bacterial infection
The longer your nails are, the more prone they are to trap bacteria. That’s because dirt gets stuck under your nails. That dirt draws in more bacteria. And if you even think of putting your fingers in your mouth, imagine the gross bacteria you’re unwittingly eating!
It’s even worse for your toenails, and while you won’t be chomping on those because they’re too far from your mouth, be advised that if you don’t do a nice trim on your toenails every week or so (depending on how quickly they grow), you’ll be growing bacteria. Think about your shoes and how your feet sweat in them. Then think about the length of your toenails and how germs and bacteria are festering in there.
Now do we have your attention? Good! But before you grab those nail clippers, keep reading!
Your fingernails can develop a fungal infection
If bacteria festering underneath your fingernails and toenails didn’t completely make you gag and vow to take better care of your nails, then fungal infections are sure to do it. Caused by fungi, the most common one people are afflicted with is athlete’s foot. You’d be mistaken to think this condition only happens to men. It doesn’t discriminate.
It occurs between the toes and often what causes it is laziness in keeping your toenails trim. Fungi will hide where dirty accumulates in and on your body. Like bacteria, fungal infections are attracted to dirt. And yes, you can get them on your hands too. Nothing says ‘sexy’ like fungi! Just kidding!
Another problem that could occur is an ingrown nail. It’s far more common for your toes because they take a beating with all that walking and running. Plus, they’re trapped in shoes most of the day. If you don’t cut the edges just right on your nails, they can grow into the skin next to it.
With toes though, when this happens and then there’s dirt, bacteria, and fungi around, it’s much more likely to get an infection. That won’t just hurt but it will also make your feet unsightly. You’ll experience a sore and tender feeling, plus your toes may be red or even bleed at the site of the ingrown nail.
So, if you’re going to let your nails grow out, manage them appropriately. Don’t just let them grow out and ignore their needs. You’ll avoid many painful and embarrassing problems when you take care of your nails.
Your nails can grow uneven and jagged
Have you ever cut your nails in a hurry, perhaps after you broke one, and the cut for each was uneven? We’ve all been there? But instead of letting it go and letting it grow like that, you should even them out.
Nails grow at different rates and can even have a different shape and style from one finger to the next. It’s important to find a shape that works for you and try to keep your nails that shape. If you like your nails squared, file them in that shape. The same goes for rounded and other shapes too.
Cutting your nails should not be the only process you go through to keep up proper nail hygiene. As mentioned, you don’t always have to have your nails perfectly painted but keeping them trimmed right and smoothed by a file will avoid any uneven and jagged growth.
You definitely don’t want uneven and jagged nails. It will always be when you’re putting on tights for work or a Halloween costume when you’ll snag the delicate material just before you have to leave and have no replacement. And aside from destroying your delicate fabrics, jagged and uneven nails can wind up turning ingrown at the edges, causing you more agony.
If you want to avoid these problems with your nails, you’ll need to take better care of them. Not sure how to do that? Keep reading to learn how to look after your nails!
How to look after your nails
Now that we’ve been through what could happen to your fingernails and toenails if you don’t cut them at all and if you don’t maintain them, let’s discover how to take good care of your nails. Not only will you have a professional and clean appearance, but you’ll avoid any health problems that can arise from nail neglect.
– Trim your nails regularly
Part of having clean and hygienic hands comes from keeping your nails trim and clean. If you like a little length on your nails, make sure that you clean the undersides of them using warm, soapy water and a nail brush. Try not to keep nails too long though. The longer they grow, the more potential they have for getting in your way on a regular basis and for carrying nasty dirty and germs. Unless you like pinworms and other gross infections, you should always take good care of your nails.
Additionally, before you begin your nail grooming process, take a moment to sterilize what you’ll use. Your nail clippers and files can be contaminated with germs from your last usage. Even if you’re the only one using them, it’s a diligent process that takes just seconds so you’ll have peace of mind.
This step is even more important if you share your tools with your roommate/bestie, your partner, or if you have roommates and you suspect they’re using your beauty tools. You never know what grossness you may pick up this way. Since you’re cutting your nails down to the skin, all it takes is an accidental snip to break the skin or cut too close. If there’s any bacteria or fungi on there, you can get an infection.
And while it should go without saying that you should use a fingernail clipper on your hands and a toenail clipper on your feet, not everyone obeys. If you’re a rule-breaker, please if you heed any advice at all, sterilize those clippers after using them on your feet and before using them on your fingers (and vice versa!).
If you have an infection, you’ll know. You may find thicker, darker nails like something out of a scary movie. Or you may find the surrounding skin of the nail is red and painful. Infections that get out of control will need medical attention so keep an eye on things and keep the area clean.
– Adopt a balanced healthy diet
Remember that old saying they’d give us in school about being what you eat? It’s true though, and what you eat really shows through in hair, skin, and nails. In fact, your nails can be one of your first clues that your health is faltering.
For strong and healthy nails, you want to eat more protein. Lean cuts of beef and pork are good though poultry and fish will help as well. Not a meat-eater? Eat lots of spinach since it has plenty of protein. You can get much of the protein you need from vegetal sources anyway.
Sometimes though, you can blame your family for your nail problems. Brittle nails can run in the family. If you have always had brittle nails since you can remember, trying a supplement with biotin can help make your nails strong and grow in a healthy way. There are also products you can put directly on your nails to help them grow in better.
And there’s something many of us are incredibly guilty of that can instantly help us have better nails. We need to keep hydrated more often. So, pick up that bottle of water, pretend it’s a wine with your bestie and drink up!
– Keep your hands and nails moisturized
Whether you have dry skin or not isn’t important. When you moisturize your hands with a good hand cream after every hand washing, you’ll not only have better skin but you’ll also have better nails too. If your hands feel pretty slick, you should at least add cuticle oil to keep the nailbeds nice and moisturized.
You can also use both, perhaps leaning on your hand cream to restore hydration back to your hands, a habit you’ll thank yourself for later on in life when your hands still look young. At your desk, keep cuticle oil at the ready and add it while you’re working to keep your nails hydrated.
In a pinch, coconut oil can help with all this too. It’s natural and nourishing, just what your skin and nails need to retain hydration and look their very best!
Whichever one you use, keeping hands hydrated will prevent hangnails and keep cuticles soft and supple.
– Be selective with nail products
It’s definitely tempting when you do go for nail colors. Some of those bright colors are so dazzling and would be perfectly flattering on your fingers and toes. But buyer beware! Many of them have hazardous ingredients and chemicals in them. You certainly don’t want to be a walking chemical farm, do you?
Thankfully, because we’re all a bit concerned about what goes into and on our bodies these days, there are many safe choices that are free of chemicals. Vegan options are among the best because they are made with nourishing plant-based ingredients and as a bonus, many of them go the extra mile to be sure not to include chemical nasties.
But don’t just hunt for vegan nail polishes. Make sure you read the labels. You want to make sure you don’t see formaldehyde, camphor, toluene, dibutyl phthalates, or formaldehyde resin. The last one is a big one because brands can legally say they’re formaldehyde-free while still using formaldehyde resin. Remember that stinky stuff in science class? Do you want that preserving your nail color? Yuck!
Read those pretty bottles of polish or go online and research them before you click them into your cart. You’ll be your most beautiful version of yourself when you fully take care of your nails by keeping them in good shape and remembering to use safe, chemical-free products to enhance them. Don’t be led by beautiful colors…you’ll find many you love in formulas that don’t have those sickening chemicals in them, like OPI Nail Lacquer (Amazon link).
If you don’t cut your nails, they’ll eventually get to a breaking point. It’s best to stay on top of them and trim and file them at regular intervals to keep them healthy. Because we’re all different, the length you like might be too long for your best friend to handle or vice versa.
Find a length and shape that works for you without getting in the way of your daily activities and take the time to nurture your nails. It really only takes a couple of minutes a day to gently buff them and use a nail brush to scrub underneath them to keep them healthy.
When you do splurge for a manicure or pedicure, or you decide to give yourself one, make sure the products you use are free of chemicals. These chemicals won’t just damage your nails but could lead to health problems for you down the road. Be smart about beauty and you’ll always exude radiance from your fingers to your toes!