Nail Cycling Has Become the New Trend for Polish Lovers—Here’s Why You Should Be Doing It

It’s like skin cycling for your manicure.


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Just like your skin, your nail health journey may look different from someone else’s. But whether you go to get your nails done every two weeks or once a month, the truth is that everyone’s nails need a breather.  

“Nails are a part of your body, and you should take the same type of care for them as you would any other part of your body!,” says Essie manicurist Steph Stone. Enter nail cycling, a concept that takes the same concept as skin cycling and applies them to your nails.

Curious about what nail cycling actually entails, and if you should partake? We broke down the new trend below.

What is nail cycling?

Nail cycling is simply taking a break in between manicures to give your nails a “break.” This means no polish and no acrylics. “If your nails are starting to hurt, feel sensitive, brittle, or begin to crack, those are all good signs it’s time for some TLC,” says Stone.

What are the benefits of nail cycling? 

If you’re constantly getting your nails done and noticing that your nails feel weaker or breaking off easily they more than likely deserve a little breather. Giving your nails a break from polish will help give your nails a chance to rehydrate, allowing for your nail matrix (i.e. the area under the base of your nails) to repair and grow. This regrowth will allow for your nails to be at its thickest, since nails can become damaged when gel and acrylic manicures are removed. 

Who should consider doing nail cycling? 

“People who are experiencing nail sensitivity or signs of poor nail health should start nail cycling immediately,” says Stone. Some people find their nails are stronger and healthier with a protective barrier like polish, gel, or dip. They may experience less breakage when they have some layer keeping their nails from cracking. 

“This can be as simple as a strengthening base coat,” Stone adds, “I love Essie Hard to Resist as a clear coat when I don’t have color or design as my nails. You can even use it as a base coat under regular polish.”

Other base coats like OPI’s Natural Nail Base Coat, Sally Hanson’s Color Therapy Strengthening Base Coat, and Seche Clear Crystal Clear Base Coat are great options to give your nails a nice shine while strengthening them.

How do you nail cycle?

While nail cycling sounds like a large production, it’s actually pretty simple. To nail cycle, you simply take breaks in between your nail appointments, approximately a week or two every couple of months. “If you want to maximize these breaks, you should remember to keep your cuticles hydrated,” says Stone. Using cuticle oil can keep the skin around your nails and the nail beds themselves strong and moisturized. It’s one of the simplest things you can do for your nail health. 

Also, cuticle oils are fairly small and don’t require a 20-minute drying process. Stone recommends keeping them with you in your purse, car, and at your desk for frequent application whenever you feel like your nails could use a little extra moisture. 

A few cuticle oils worth trying are CND’s Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner, Sally Hansen’s Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil, and Orly’s Argan Oil Cuticle Drops

Is nail cycling for everyone? 

Ultimately, you don’t have to nail cycle if you don’t need it. The most important thing is to listen to your body—it’ll give you signs if your nails are in need of a little breather. Look out for signs like sensitive, brittle, and painful nails that are cracking more often than usual If you’re experiencing all or even one of these signs, it’s probably time to take a break from getting your nails done. 

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