There’s no doubt about it. Going through menopause and onwards through postmenopause can be a nail-biting time for those of us going through it, as well as for our families and friends. Today’s topic is nail health. Granted it’s not one of the topics that springs to mind the minute someone mentions menopause. You’re more likely to conjure up an image of reddened sweaty faces stoked by a volatile temper than nuisance nails. But did you know that oestrogen is involved in the production of keratin, that hard protein substance that makes nails (and hair, amongst other things)? It makes sense – if your oestrogen levels are low, your keratin production will slow down too. Add into the mix a little general dehydration (hands up all those who forget to drink those glasses of water each day – yup, me too!) and you have a great recipe for nail trouble. Dry, flaking, brittle nails. Whilst this is not the most debilitating symptom I’ve experienced, it is annoying at best and blooming painful at worst. So what can you do to show your nails some love?
Time to show your hands some (g)love! Wow… those are some super long gloves! I’m trying not to imagine why they need to be that long. Anyway, back to the matter in hand! First and foremost, if you’re not a fan of wearing gloves when your hands are in water or gardening for example, it’s time to get over your aversion and glove up. Prolonged immersion in hot soapy water, exposure to household cleaners, weeding, planting and so on, all without protection, leads to the nails absorbing water, getting chipped and manky (this would be the gardening scenario) and then drying out later on, contracting as they dry, all leading to brittle and damaged nails. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to resist peeling a little flaky bit. And before you know it, you’ve made the situation worse. Prevention is better than a cure. If you’re handy with a glue gun and sequins, you could always jazz up those boring old household/gardening gloves.
Make sure to pay attention to your overall diet. Keeping hydrated seems to be the advice for nearly everything so no change here. I admit, drinking the recommended daily water is dull and boring. I spice things up by adding slices of fresh fruits to a water bottle inner tube thingy during the summer, swapping to frozen fruits when the supply of juicy strawberries has gone. A favourite recipe of mine is slices of cucumber, lemon and lime with a few sprigs of fresh mint from the garden. No more boring water for me and an extra dose of vitamin C in the process. Win!
While I’m on the subject of diet… make sure you are getting enough healthy fats and oils in there. They won’t kill your waistline (unless you overindulge) and as little as 6 almonds a day will help your nail health. If you love them, avocados are a great addition to those healthy fats and oils.
It’s not only inner hydration that’s important, moisturising the skin and nails helps too. I recently discovered a wonderful hand treatment from Neal’s Yard Remedies – their Frankincense Intense serum is amazing. It’s not cheap but a little goes a long way, your hand smell fab and it fades out sun blemishes. I also use a cuticle balm to keep my nails and cuticles as moisturised as possible. Here’s a recipe of mine you can make at home with a small saucepan and a glass bowl.
Cath’s nourishing nail balm recipe
You’ll need a small saucepan, a heat-proof bowl, a small clean container capable of holding about 20ml. I used an old small Vaseline tin, cleaned out and ready to be upcycled.
- 1tsp coconut oil
- 1tsp beeswax
- 1tsp almond oil
- 5 drops clary sage essential oil
- 5 drops bergamot essential oil
- Place the coconut, almond oils and beeswax in a heat-proof bowl.
- Place some water in the saucepan, making sure you can rest the bowl over the top but not touch the water.
- Bring the water to a good simmer and watch as the beeswax melts into the other ingredients.
- Remove from the heat and add the essential oils as the mixture cools but before it goes solid
- Pour carefully into your chosen container and allow to cool completely before closing the lid.
Some mixing tips – if you live in a hot place, you can add a smidge more beeswax to the mixture to keep it more solid when it cools. Similarly, if you live in colder climes, add more coconut oil or almond oil to stop it from going too stiff when cooled.
Rub into your nails and cuticles at least twice a day for best effects. If you are not a fan of clary sage or bergamot, you can change the essential oils to suit your self. Just make sure you add no more than ten drops to the mix.
So that wraps it up for postmenopausal nail care. As ever, if you are at all worried about your nails, please go see a doctor.
Do you lovely readers have tips to share? If so, please feel free to post your wisdom in the comments section.