Expert Advice: Pamela Laird on keeping your nails in tip top shape

What is my nail type?

When choosing the correct treatment for your nails Understanding your nail type is really important. See my guide to diagnosing your exact nail type below.

Brittle Nails

If your nails are breaking or cracking this means your nails are brittle and traditional strengthening treatments should be avoided. Getting some hydration and flexibility is important for a brittle nail so try using a nail serum like ‘moisture rehab’ by Sally Hansen and stick to a normal base coat with no strengthening properties.

Weak or Damaged Nails

Probably one of the most common complaints I hear is weak nails. This nail type is often seen after gel/acrylic has just been removed and where the free edge of the nail bends or won’t grow. These nails need extra tlc and a good strengthener. Look for products with omega extract and proteins try Sally Hansen “hard as nails” and use once a week.
Peeling/Dehydrated Nails

Another common nail complaint is peeling nails. This problem is 2 fold it can often be caused by incorrect filling of the free edge. If you imagine your nail is lots of flattened layers of dead skin compressed together, it’s really important that you seal that edge in with your nail file to ensure the layers don’t separate and peel. Using a nail file shape your edge moving side to center rather than see-sawing.

Another cause can be the assumption that nails need to breathe- they don’t infact nails much prefer to be protected. A single coat of a treatment like Sally Hansen ‘miracle cure’ once a week worn alone or under your nail colour, will protect the nails and help to stop the edges peeling.


If you have dry overgrown cuticles that are prone to cracking resit the temptation to cut them with a nippers. Cutting cuticles will stimulate the growth of the skin and can cause them to grow back thicker and faster! Instead use a cuticle remover, this uses fruit enzymes to break down dead skin overtime and will tame that excess skin and allow better absorption of your cuticle oils and hand creams. Try Sally Hansen ‘cuticle remover’ this also doubles up as a callus peel for your feet!

My Top Tips

Everybody loves a good nude nail especially when getting shellac/gel polish it just goes with everything! But a complaint I see a lot recently is that it’s hard to keep neutral shades looking fresh, they pick up stains very easily! So I have a top tip, after your nail tech has your gel manicure complete you can put a layer of ordinary topcoat on top. This extra layer will be the “stain grabber” and is easily removed using acetone free nail polish remover and any stains will be removed with it! Don’t forget to reapply, try ‘insta dri’ from Sally Hansen it has acrylic oligimers and will give the best shield!

So many people will admit to painting their nails before bed, but sometimes wake up with bedsheet marks! Keep some cuticle oil handy and After you’ve applied your topcoat apply a generous amount of oil to each nail and cuticle. Cuticle oil will trap the oxygen and speed up the chemical reaction which will reduce your drying time! The oil will also lubricate and prevent any marking while the polish dries!

When doing your own nails at home don’t forget the prep is key to long lasting colour. The first step is to wipe each nail with nail varnish remover, this gets rid of any dust or oil on the nail plate. Next is base coat, so many people skip this step but your base is everything. Nails are naturally porous and uneven so your base coat can give you the smooth surface you need to get a perfect finish with your colour. Try something that has a low gloss/Matte finish like‘nail rehab’ from Sally Hansen.

Now nail colour, 2 thin coats is better than one! Each coat will dry faster and be more durable, don’t forget nail varnish dries from the inside out so the thicker each layer the longer it will take!

Once all 10 nails are done you can go straight in with top coat and make sure you seal the edge of the nail to prevent chipping.

My top tip is every 4-5 days apply another layer of topcoat to revive the shine and will help them last longer.