You love to look your best from head to toe, including a fresh set of nails. But pay attention to these seven signs your nails may need a break from polish!

Looking your best from head to toe means paying attention to every detail, including your nails. Whether you prefer a natural manicure, acrylic nails, or gel nails, it feels good and looks good to have them perfectly shaped, buffed, and polished.

But wearing nail polish at all times can cause nail damage.

Worried that your nails may be suffering from polish overload? Here are seven ways to tell if your nails need a break from polish (and how to repair them). 

Is It Safe to Wear Nail Polish All the Time?

Some people think that you need to take a break from polish because your nails need to breathe. That is a myth. The cells that make up fingernails and toenails are no longer living — they do not need air to breathe.

But there are other reasons why you should take a break from polish on occasion.

Nails can suffer damage from improper manicure prep, including over-buffing and too much filing. This can weaken the nail and nail bed, ultimately doing more harm than good.

Polish removal can damage nails, especially if you have acrylic or gel ones. Nail polish removers contain harsh chemicals, which can eat away at your nails with consistent, frequent use.

Not sure if your nails need a polish break? There are a few ways to tell.

Seven Signs Your Nails Need a Break From Polish

If you see any of the following signs, you need to take time off from polish. As much as you may like to have color on your nails and toes, these are clear indicators that it’s time to give it a rest.

Your Nails Are Peeling

Peeling nails are usually a result of excessive moisture. This can result from soaking your hands in preparation for a manicure. If your nails are peeling at the edges, skip the manicure for a few weeks.

Your Nails Are Splitting

A nutrient deficiency often causes splitting nails. Ensure you’re eating a healthy diet and skip a manicure or two to give your nails a chance to regenerate and improve.

Your Nails Have Ridges

It’s common for nails to have some ridges; removing fake nails roughly or improperly can cause ridges to deepen and become more prevalent. 

If your routine involves removing one set of artificial nails and immediately applying another — give it a break. Rock natural nails for a few weeks or months.

Your Cuticles Are Dry

Are your cuticles dry and rough? They’re probably not getting enough hydration. The harsh chemicals in polishes and polish removers will only make them drier.

You Nails Have Rough, White Patches

Do you have rough, white patches on your nails? 

That’s called keratin granulation. If you see rough, white spots, lay off the polish for at least a week and give your nails a rest. Those patches won’t go away if you consistently cover them lacquer.

Your Nails Are Yellowing

Yellowing nails are also a sign that you’re wearing nail polish too much. Darker polish shades have a tendency to stain the nail, so if you must wear a color, switch to a lighter shade for a while.

Your Nails Are Thin

Can you bend your nails easily? 

If so, it’s time to give the polish a rest. Those chemicals in polishes and polish removers can make your nails weaker and thinner.

How to Repair Damaged Nails

It takes between four and six months for a fingernail to completely grow out from the cuticle to the tip. If you can allow for full regrowth without a manicure or polish, do so. If you can’t bear the idea of having unpolished nails for months on end, at least give yourself a three or four-week break between manicures.

Nude, natural nails are just as beautiful as painted ones!  

While you’re waiting for your nails to grow out, there are some things you should and should not do.

The most important thing is not to bite, pick, or dig at your nails or cuticles. Let them grow naturally and stick to light, soft filing to keep the edges smooth and trim.

If your nails or cuticles are extra-dry, be sure to moisturize and hydrate. Buy vitamin E oil and apply it directly to your cuticles or rub it right on your nails.

If your nails are thin, soft, or peeling, use a nail strengthener to harden your nails. The light clear polish of a nail hardener won’t do the damage of the chemicals and colors in nail polish, but it will give your nails a nice, shiny look.

How to Keep Your Nails Looking Healthy At All Times

To make your nails look healthy at all times, you’ll need to ease up on the polish.  The acetone polish removers that so many of us use to remove our old color are full of harsh chemicals that can do all sorts of damage to nails and cuticles.

When it’s time to buff or file your nails — be gentle! Over-buffing and excessive filing can make your nails thin, weak, and brittle.

It’s also important to know what’s in the polish you use. Some nail polishes contain toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate, all of which can cause nails to split and break over time.

And when you absolutely must paint your nails, protect them by applying a base coat first. A thin base coat acts as a barrier between your natural nail and your polish or lacquer.



We all want beautiful, healthy nails. But despite the need to have them painted in our favorite shade of pink, red, or blue, it is vital to give our nails a polish break from time to time.

If you see any of the seven signs of nail damage, you might want to hold off on booking your next manicure appointment. Skip the polish and paint your nails with a clear base layer instead. In time, they’ll grow out, they’ll strengthen, and they’ll be ready for all those pretty colors again!  

[Author bio]

Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Vue at Belleair with five years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Vue at Belleair the place to call home.