8 Tips for Naturally Beautiful Nails

woman in denim shirt with natural nails holds up purple flower with both hands

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Get gorgeous nails for summertime without all the nasty chemicals.

You don’t have to visit the salon on a regular basis in order to have beautiful nails. The combination of a well-balanced diet, a thoughtful beauty regimen, and good personal hygiene can give you salon-worthy nails at a fraction of the cost and chemical burden.

1. Use moisturizer

woman puts dollop of white lotion on top of hand next to open book and flowers

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

When rubbing lotion or oil into your hands, make sure you work it into the cuticles and nails, too. Regular handwashing or use of hand sanitizer can dry out the skin and nail bed quickly, so try to moisturize after every wash, if possible. Coconut oil is excellent for rubbing into your nails and cuticles.

2. Care for your cuticles

woman rubs olive oil from jar in background into cuticles for natural moisture

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Avoid having your cuticles trimmed during a manicure. Cuticles are meant to be a barrier for bacteria, and cutting them can lead to painful infections. You can moisten and push them back with a cuticle pusher, and trim away only dead pieces of skin.

If you’re planning on having a conventional manicure done, then at least protect your cuticles by dabbing with olive oil or almond oil prior, in order to reduce the amount of chemical that soaks in from the polish.

3. Avoid using harsh polish

woman rests hand on purple towel while painting nails pink with polish

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Nail polish typically contains very toxic chemicals such as toluene, dibutyl phthalate, dimethyl and diethyl phthalates, camphor, and formaldehyde. Fortunately, companies such as OPI, Orly, Sally Hansen, and Revlon make some polishes that do not contain these chemicals, but make sure you read the label carefully before purchasing. You can also buy water-based polishes, which don't last as long but are the safest option out there.

4. Seek out alternatives

different kinds of nail polish in multiple colors scattered on white textile

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

There are companies now making less toxic polishes and removers. Check out the following brands and take your favorite color along when you go to the salon for your next pedicure.




Deborah Lippman


No-Miss Nail Care

5. Buff instead of color

woman in white blouse holds up hands to buff with purple nail buffer

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

It may not be as fancy or eye-catching as color, but a bit of buffing can go a long ways. Take the time to trim, file, and buff your nails properly and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how great they can look, despite being au naturel. Never saw back and forth with a file because that can weaken your nails. Always file from the outside edge of the nail inward.

6. Choose a good remover

woman in white blouse uses pink sponge to remove fingernail polish

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

You can get acetone-free remover almost anywhere, which is less harsh on your nails. Priti sells a remover made entirely from soy and corn, and No-Miss has one called Almost Natural that contains fruit acids and vanilla.

7. Make a natural nail-strengthening treatment

woman rubs coconut oil on hands from glass square jar nearby

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

This recipe comes from a book called There’s Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon.

Mix: 2 tsp castor oil, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp wheat germ oil. Mix and keep in a sealed bottle. Rub a small amount onto your nails. Leave for 3 to 5 minutes. Wipe off. Makes enough for 20 to 30 applications.

8. Eat well

woman in white dress cracks brown egg over white bowl

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Diet is very important to maintaining healthy nails. Protein is crucial, as are omega-3 fatty acids. Eating foods with biotin reduces brittleness and selenium prevents whitened nail beds. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

View Article Sources
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nail Hygiene. Updated July 26, 2016.

  3. Young AS, Allen JG, Kim U-J, et al. Phthalate and Organophosphate Plasticizers in Nail Polish: Evaluation of Labels and IngredientsEnvironmental Science & Technology. 2018;52(21):12841-12850. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b04495

  4. Szyszkowska B, Łepecka-Klusek C, Kozłowicz K, Jazienicka I, Krasowska D. The Influence of Selected Ingredients of Dietary Supplements on Skin ConditionPostepy Dermatologii i Alergologii. 2014;3:174-181. doi:10.5114/pdia.2014.40919

  5. DiBaise M, Tarleton SM. Hair, Nails, and Skin: Differentiating Cutaneous Manifestations of Micronutrient DeficiencyNutrition in Clinical Practice. 2019;34(4):490-503. doi:10.1002/ncp.10321