Nail Manicure Questions


My nail polish goes thick after a while, why and what can I do?

Nail polish is made up of up to 80% solvent and 20% pigment. Every time you open the bottle the solvent evaporates and the polish gets thicker. To restore the consistency you need to add between 6-12 drops of Mavala's Thinner as this is pure solvent. DO NOT add nail varnish remover as this will weaken your polish as the polish and the remover work against each other making the polish thin and weak.

My nail polish does not last on my nails what can I do?

All nail polish is weak, so you always need to use a top coat, as this will put a protective coating over the colour. Top coats wear away with everyday living, so it is very important to refresh your manicure with a top coat every other day, otherwise your nail polish is not protected and can chip.

Try Mavala Colorfix for armour protection and shine.

Why do my nails flake?

The nails are made of many layers of dead cells only held together by a small amount of oil and moisture. When we expose our hands to water, solvents or heat, the oil and moisture dries out. Also, the longer the nail grows and the older we get, the drier the nails become. The result is that the nail, having lost its "glue", starts to lift apart and the nail flakes.

Because the nail is dead, it cannot produce what it requires to repair itself. The only living part of the nail is the matrix or "root" which lies behind and beneath the cuticle. When the nail is formed from the matrix, oil and moisture are also produced to hold the emerging nail together and this small amount is all the nail has for the rest of its time on your finger. If flaking does occur we can treat it in two ways. Firstly, use of a product which will mimic the lost emulsion by penetrating directly into the nail and also into the matrix area to help replace the loss. Try Nailactan, a nutritive cream for damaged nails. Secondly, a product to seal the flaking layers quickly whilst the oil and moisture replacement is being effected. Try Mavala Scientifique, a penetrating nail hardener which seals the layers of the nail.

My nails get white spots on them and I've been told its lack of calcium. Is this true?

White spots appearing haphazardly on the nails have got nothing to do with a deficiency. The nails are composed of layers of dead cells and if you knock either the nail or the matrix or "root" area where the nail is formed which lies behind and beneath the cuticle, the trauma causes the layers of cells to spring apart and an air bubble forms. As light hits and reflects from the nail the area appears to be white.

Why do my nails break?

This is the most difficult of all questions to answer. Sometimes the reason is glaringly obvious, at other times you have many possibilities to explore. Here we have dealt with the most common.

Not protecting hands whilst performing chores and forgetting to use gloves for wet work. Cotton gloves should always be used to protect the hands even when dusting or tidying.


When you file nails, use the fine side of an emery board, file from the side to the centre of the nails, leave at least 2mm at each side of the nail unfiled; this will create a bridge to help support the nail, file them into rounded or square shape as this gives a wider tip to take the brunt of any knocks, and finally always bevel the nails (file up from under the nail and down from over the nail) to give a catch free finish to them. Don't use your nails as tools. They won't put up with being used to scratch labels off jars or tear open packages. Quite often people assume that because their nails break they need to use a nail hardener. In many cases this is far from the truth. Nails can break because they are already too hard and using a hardener only makes the problem worse. What they need to do is add oil and moisture to the nails to increase their flexibility so when the nail collides with a solid object it bends rather than breaks. Overuse of nail enamel removers with high acetone content will result very quickly in dry nails which constantly break. Switch to a low or nil acetone remover, but still try to use it only once to twice a week.

How can I stop biting my nails?

When nail biting occurs, it is not only the nails that suffer. The cuticle surrounding the nail becomes red and swollen, with pieces of ragged skin hanging off. In many instances infection can be present. It can be a very difficult habit to stop. Biters will bite without even being aware of doing it, so here is a suggested approach to bring the problem to your attention and break the habit.

Select one nail that from then on will be your only biting nail. Apply a cuticle cream or oil to your other nine fingers, together with MAVALA STOP, an unpleasant tasting product. This product is to serve as a reminder if the wrong finger goes into your mouth. Continue this routine for 10 days at which point the swelling and redness around the nails will have reduced and nail growth will have resumed. However, the cuticle will now have a lot of dead skin which can be removed with the help of a cuticle remover. Use this every five days but continue with daily use of the cuticle cream to keep the skin soft and anti nail biting product to keep the nine nails out of the mouth. Also, use an emery board very gently to get a proper smooth edge on each nail even if they are very, very short. Ten days later, growth of 1-2 millimetres will be apparent on the nine treated nails. Now is the time for nail hardeners or nourishers if needed, perhaps even a base coat, colour and top coat, but the treatments being already performed should be continued not stopped. Of course the difference between the nine treated fingers and the one biting finger will be very obvious and hopefully will encourage you to try and leave that one alone too!

Read our full stop biting treatment plan for more details.

What can I do about the dry skin around my nails?

When the cuticle becomes dry it needs a daily application of cuticle cream or oil to soften it. A good one will sit on the skin when it is applied and not be absorbed into the skin. It has only one job in life and that is to soften the hard surface skin and this it cannot do if it is absorbed like a hand cream.

I have problems painting my nails because the skin grows down them. Also, I get painful splits around the base of my nails.

The cuticle at the base of the nail should always be kept soft and well moulded. If not, the cuticle adheres to the nail and as the nail grows the cuticle is pulled forward. The result is the skin splits causing pain and irritating hangnails. To solve this problem apply cuticle cream or oil every day and use a cuticle remover once a week. Using a cuticle softener is important before attempting to lift the skin otherwise you will split the skin even more. The use of a cuticle remover regularly should remove the need to use clippers to cut the skin away, as doing this will result in the skin growing thicker and becoming even more of a problem.

I often make mistakes when I apply nail polish. What is the best way to correct them?

A manicure stick wrapped with cotton wool dampened with Nail Polish Remover is the traditional method, but the MAVALA CORRECTOR PEN for nail polish is particularly recommended in that case.

First of all, be sure that your nail polish has the correct consistency. If it is too thick, add a few drops of THINNER. Apply nail polish in long strokes, avoid brush short strokes. The second coat should cover light areas or empty zones which have not been covered by the first coat.

Check out our Colour Application Technique tutorial for more details.

What can I do about ridges on my nails?

Ridges on the nails can have several origins. They can be connected with your general health, your age or trauma directly to the nail. Excellent cosmetic results can be obtained using one or two coats of ridge filler, a liquid painted onto the nail. Nail enamel can be painted over the top or it can be left natural with perhaps a top coat to increase the lasting qualities.

My nail enamel starts to wear off at the tips of my nails.

Always use a top coat after applying your nail enamel, and apply a fresh coat every day. Applied at the end of your manicure it will protect the enamel underneath, but the next days as you use your hands you will wear away the top coat. If you do nothing, you will then start to wear away the enamel. By reapplying the top coat daily you protect the colour underneath. Also, any minor scuffs on the surface are reglossed and your nails regain their shine and brilliance.

Why does my nail enamel start to come off the day after I've put it on?

It could be one or more of the following reasons;

  • Nails not completely clean before applying base coat: Clean the nails with enamel remover and then water before application. Any oil or dirt on the nails will stop adherence.
  • Base coat not used: This will lead to the enamel peeling off the nail.
  • Top coat not used: This will result in the enamel chipping off the nail.
  • Flaking nail condition: If the nail flakes it will take the enamel with it. Take steps to solve the flaking condition.
  • Nail enamel too thick: If cannot be applied evenly and cannot dry properly so it will peel off the nail. Use thinner to restore enamel.
  • Nail enamel too thin so it will chip from tip: Open your nail polish bottle and let the solvent evaporate until your nail polish consistency is suitable.

If I keep my enamel in the fridge will it stop it from getting thick?

Nail enamel actually gets thicker in cold temperatures and thinner in warm temperatures. When an enamel becomes thick and difficult to use it has nothing to do with the ambient temperature, although they do prefer to be kept at an average room temperature. Nail enamel is approximately 70-80% solvent, the remaining 20-30% being colour pigments, plasticisers, dryers etc. Every time a bottle of enamel is opened the liquid solvent evaporates leaving behind the solid pigments, plasticisers etc. If thickening occurs, add a small amount of thinner which will restore the enamel to its correct consistency. It is quite normal to have to add thinner every time you use the bottle. The colour will not become paler as the colour pigments are part of that thick lump still in the bottle. If over thinning happens, simply leave the cap off for a few moments, the liquid will evaporate and the enamel will become thicker. Here are a few hints to help stop thickening occurring:

  • Work quickly - the longer the bottle is open the thicker the enamel will become.
  • Wipe the neck of the bottle and inside the bottle cap with enamel remover after each use. If the cap fits tightly the solvent cannot evaporate.
  • Do not try to thin thickened enamel with nail enamel remover. If contains water and will destroy the enamel. After all, its job is to remove enamel not keep it.

The cap of my nail polish bottle is stuck. How can I open it?

Who has never struggled against a stuck bottle cap ? Most of the people have the same reaction to this unpleasant situation, they immerse the bottle in hot water, shake it or hit it on a table. These methods are very unappropriate as the bottle may break and endanger your nails. The simplest idea is to wrap the cap of the bottle with a rubber band. The result is astonishing, your bottle will open simply without any effort.

If that fails, it means that nail enamel has likely dried on the neck of the bottle, inside the bottle cap, gluing the bottle and the cap together. You may be able to reliquify the dried nail enamel using thinner. Turn the bottle on its side and drop a couple of drops of thinner in the gap between the bottle and the cap. Place the bottle upside down (so that the thinner falls inside the cap) and leave it for one minute. Try to open the bottle again with the rubber band technique described above. If it works, remember to wipe the neck of the bottle and inside the bottle cap with enamel remover to ensure it doesn't stick again next time you close your bottle.

I have ridged nails, why and how do I make them look better?

We often have ridged nails due to illness, damage to the nail, hereditary factors and dryness of the nails.

We can improve the look by buffing the nails once a week , followed by ridge filler as a base coat. To keep the nails moisturised use Mavala's Nailactan to improve the health and condition of the nails.

One of my nails looks like its lifting away from the bed, what is it and is it contagious?

It sounds like - Leuconychia (from the Greek leukos=white) can be due to a blow to the nail plate, heredity, or over-zealous manicures. Internal causes can be linked to menstruation or severe illness. You can still have a manicure as it is not contagious, its just a case of the nail growing out. You can make it look a lot better by painting your nails. Use Mavala's 002 base coat, two coats of polish followed by Colorfix for your top coat.

I am getting married in six months and want my nails to grow but they seem to take forever, what I can do?

If you can, have regular manicures at a salon, as they will be able to maintain the health and look of your nails, and then to use a homecare product to stimulate the nail growth. Try Mavala's Mavaderma oil. This oil nourishes the nail at its base and provides a new resistance, it will also stimulate and promotes blood circulation that encourages nail growth. Massage into the base of the nail every night.

For more tips and advice, read our complete BRIDAL GUIDE for nail and hand care.

Is Mavala nail polish suitable for Muslim women?

All MAVALA nail polishes, base coats, top coats and camouflage products allow nails to breathe, as either they contain a specific resin, or they are water-based formulas. This resin is one of the oldest-known modified cellulose derivatives (extracted from wood). This is an excellent film-forming polymer - safe for nails - providing a flexible and brilliant film, which adheres to the surface of the nail plate.

When applied on nails, evaporation of the solvents leaves a resistant, shell-like, yet porous film that still allows oxygen and water vapor to pass through the nail polish, to the nail plate. Thus, when several thin coats of various base coats, MAVALA Mini Color’s, and Top Coats are applied on nails, all these products are sufficiently porous to enable the nail to breathe and receive water vapor.

This makes all MAVALA nail polishes, base coats, top coats and camouflage products suitable for muslim women, but not just for muslim women. Nails, even if they are composed of dead epidermal cells, need to breathe. Otherwise, they get softer and can even putrefy, like the skin under occlusive band-aid. So breathability is important for all women!


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