Looking after your finger and toenails is an important part of self-care but might seem daunting if you have sight loss. To make it easier, read our tips for maintaining good nails.
Filing and cleaning your nails
If you don't have much remaining vision, you may want to avoid using nail clippers and file your nails instead. Filing your nails regularly will keep them at a manageable length.
- Using short, gentle strokes, push the file from the outer edge towards the centre of the nail.
- Rather than using a sawing motion, file your nails in the same direction and avoid dragging the file backwards from the centre as this can weaken your nails.
- Use a nail brush when you wash your hands to remove any trapped dirt that’s collected underneath your fingernails.
- Keep your nails strong and cuticles healthy by regularly using hand lotion.
Cutting your nails
- Using clippers rather than scissors tends to be safer and they’re also often curved in the shape of a nail.
- If you have some remaining vision, you might find using a magnifier or other low vision aid helpful when using nail clippers or scissors. Using a spectacle mounted magnifier, stand magnifier or video magnifier will allow you to see your nails while keeping both your hands free.
- You could take a photo of the nail with your phone and zoom in to see what needs cutting, then feel the area and shape the nail using clippers.
- Looking after your toenails can be difficult, even if you have some remaining vision, as it’s often harder to see them. Ask a friend or family member for help, or if that isn’t an option, you can contact your doctor for NHS treatment.
- For ease some people prefer to visit a salon or nail bar for a manicure and pedicure.
Painting your nails
- If you keep your nail polish in the fridge, the cold temperature will make it easier to feel where you’ve painted.
- Practice painting your nails with clear, nude or light-coloured polishes as any mistakes will be less noticeable.
- Nail polish pens keep the polish in a sealed tube so there's no chance of spilling it, making them a great alternative to traditional nail polish bottles.
- Nail corrector pens can be used to remove any polish from around the nail, they're easy to use and refillable. A cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover also works just as well.
- Alternatively, you can make your nails shiny by using a nail buffing block. Make sure you don't buff your nails more than once a month because they will get thin and weak.
Step-by-step guide for painting your nails
- Give the nail polish bottle a good shake before using.
- Old nail varnish can become thick and sticky, making it difficult to apply. Add a drop of nail polish remover to help loosen it up. You may need to ask a sighted person for their help with this.
- If you have any remaining vision:
- Rest your hand flat on a towel or surface that is a contrasting colour to your nail polish, this will make it easier to see where you're applying the polish.
- You could try using an adjustable task light, a spectacle mounted magnifier, stand magnifier or video magnifier that you can fit your hand underneath.
- Hold the brush between your index finger and thumb.
- Apply the polish in three strokes, one to the centre of the nail and then one on each side, overlapping where possible.
- After you've applied one coat of polish, move onto your next hand. Repeat the process so that you have two layers of polish on each nail.
- Avoid applying more than two layers of polish as will take it longer to dry. Thick layers of nail polish are more likely to show marks if you've accidentally touched the polish before it’s fully dry.
- An easy way to test if your nail polish is dry is to gently touch your nail with the tip of your tongue. Nail polish has a slightly bitter taste if it is still wet, but dry nail polish has no taste. Don’t worry — this approach won't smudge the polish!