Pamela Laird Solves Your Manicure Mysteries

pamela laird

A week or so ago, Pamela Laird,  above, owner of the Leighton Denny nail bar at House of Fraser, Dundrum, volunteered to answer a selection of your questions. The poor gal probably didn't reckon on the lot of you having 95 questions about splitting, peeling, weak and cracked nails, but she's risen admirably to the challenge. Here's part one of Pamela's expert tips; we'll have more for you next week.

How can I cure my splitting nails at the tips? I’ve tried various strengtheners but they are still splitting into different layers and then of course snapping- and continuing in a vicious circle! The only time they really get strong is when on holidays.

Nails split for a number of reasons; one could be your method of nail filing, another to consider is possibly poor health or diet.  And sometimes they split because the nail owner is using overly harsh products on their hands.

When health reasons are ruled out, then it's time to have a good look at what you’re doing with your nails that causes them to split. In the long term it's best to get professional advice from a trained manicurist on how to best care for your nails to stop this.  However, in the short term start using a crystal nail file to help seal the edges of the nails and prevent further splitting.  If the edges of the nails aren’t sealed (a regular emery board doesn’t seal the edge of the nail) then water can seep in and cause the nails to break and crack.

Interestingly, most people’s nails and hair get stronger in the sun. This is because the heat promotes circulation which in turn promotes cell growth.  Another good reason to book yourself a nice sun holiday this year!

The tips of my nails have started to split into layers and I’m really tempted to (whisper it) superglue the tip of my nail until I can grow out the nasty bit. Am I asking for trouble? What else can I do!?

Yes – lots of trouble!  Superglue is not for nails... that’s a fact. If you are going to use any glue – and I don’t recommend you do – then at least make sure it’s a nail glue designed for this purpose.

It sounds like you’re using your emery board like a saw and this allows water to seep into the nail and cause it to split into the layers you describe.  Again I recommend using a crystal nail file to seal edges.

I used to have great really strong long nails but for the last few months I’ve have to keep them really short because the top layer is coming off. I’ve been under a lot of stress, could that be a factor?

Many people attribute unpleasant skin and hair conditions (eczema, dandruff etc) to stress so it is possible that stress can be a factor in nail health too.  Best thing to do, apart from of course trying to alleviate the stress altogether, is to hydrate the nails using nail products rich in Vitamin E.  Remember: hydration, hydration, hydration.  This will keep your nails flexible and the cuticles soft.  Again, talk to your manicurist for more detailed  information.

I’d love to know what things to add to my diet to help strengthen my nails? I’m vegetarian and don’t drink cows milk (I take soy) so is there anything I should be eating/drinking?

Bad news is I’m not a dietician so I’m afraid I can’t advise you here. Good news however is that I am a good manicurist so if you come and see me at the Leighton Denny Nail Bar in House of Fraser I will be able to recommend some products you can apply topically to your hands to help strengthen your nails!

What are the new nail shades for summer?


SS09 Leighton Denny colours

The Risqué Collection from Leighton Denny!

What are the most fashionable and wearable nail polish colours at the moment? I’m not a fan of French polish so I always tend to go for a dark colour which does get a bit samey after a while. I work in an office though so I can’t be going around with neon nails either!

Try the limited edition Honey Trap colour in the new Risqué Collection.  Perfect.

How long should you leave each layer of nail varnish to dry when doing your nails (i.e. base, colour and top!)

Approximately one minute.

Do you air-dry painted nails? Shake your hands around / blow on them / just sit still / use a hairdryer on a cool setting?!

No / No / No / Yes sit still / No hairdryer!

There is a chemical reaction when nail polish is drying, which involves solvent escaping into the air. Heat does not speed this up.  The only thing to speed up drying time is by using a product which has an ingredient to encourage faster drying like Leighton Denny Miracle Drops.

I always wonder, is there a difference between base coat and top coat?

Yes, base coat is like double sided tape, that is it bonds to the nail and grips the colour. Top coat is like your bullet proof armour.

Since getting my gel nails off last August, I cant keep polish on for longer than a day. It always chips no matter what.  Help!

This requires treatment to return your nail surface to pre-gels. A professional treatment will help to get you started. It is very difficult to apply polish and expect it to stay put, when the surface is not even.


I have very dry nails and I would be quite good with oils and hand creams but no matter what I do nothing helps. I assumed that cos they were so dry that's why I don't get longer than a day out of a polish. I've tried the nourishing base coats, all of them, but nada...

If you have no health issues or are not on medication to dry skin out, like some treatments for acne for example, then you need to look at what you’re doing on a daily basis. Use a good exfoliator, 2-3 times a week, then apply your hand cream thickly, like a mask and leave it on for approximately 20 minutes, or overnight with a pair of cotton gloves.

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