Your nails are one of your best beauty accessories and a reflection of you and your personal style—but do you know much about them?

Here’s a quick crash course:

1) Cuticles are there for a reason and serve a purpose.
Although it may be tempting to aggressively clip and pick at your cuticles, they actually play a vital role in protecting you from infection.

Too much cuticle clipping or picking opens the protective barrier and allows moisture and bacteria into your body, which may cause an infection, pain, and swelling.

This can potentially damage the shape of the nail as it grows out, since “normal” nail shape is a reflection of healthy nails.

2) Nails and Hair are made of similar components.
Nails are made of many layers of hard keratin, similar to hair.

There’s also a thin layer of keratin covering most of the surface of your body; it’s thickest being on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.

So what’s the difference between your hair, nails, and skin?

Nail and hair keratins contain more cysteine (an amino acid) than the soft keratins of skin; this leads to stronger bonds between cells.

Nails also have a lower content of fat and water, and the skin regularly sheds its outer layer of keratin, while the nail doesn’t.

3) Nails grow faster on your dominant hand.
That’s why, if you’re right-handed, you may have noticed that you have to trim the nails on your right hand more often.

The theory behind this is that nails that are used more often and exposed to the elements grow faster.

4) Nails grow faster in warmer climates.
People who live in areas with higher temperatures like sunny Arizona, tend to have nails that grow faster.

Why does this happen?

The sun helps your body create the vitamin D your nails need to grow quickly. A tropical vacation might be just what you need to get your nails growing!

5) Your nails can tip you off to other health issues.
Your nails are one of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your health.

Changes to their shape, color, thickness, and the color of the nail bed can all be signs of problems.

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