By Crystal Vogt

Smooth, shiny fingernails are a sign of good nail health. Not to mention, they give hands a pretty, manicured look. Nails are made up of a protein called keratin that can be damaged over time by injuries, malnutrition and regular exposure to chemicals in nail products, dishwashing soaps and bleach. If you want glossy fingernails, here's how to take care of them.

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A clear top coat of nail polish can make your fingernails glossy.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Fingernails can actually be a representation of your nutrition. A balanced diet especially rich in fruits and vegetables can make nails appear glossy. On the other hand, a poor diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals can leave nails dry, brittle and cracked. Even if you are eating healthy, a vitamin deficiency may prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients properly, manifesting as dry nails. If you suspect this might be the case, contact your doctor to get tested and learn what vitamin supplements you need to take take.

Buff Your Nails

Special buffing pads can be used to make fingernails glossy. These come in either a flat strip (like a nail file) or as a small multi-sided block, available at drug stores or beauty supply shops. To use, hold the buffer lightly against each fingernail and buff quickly back and forth until your nails are polished to a nice sheen. Some nail shops use electric buffers with high-powered spinning buff pads.

Moisturize Your Nails

Nail lotions, hand lotions or oils like vitamin E oil can moisturize dry nails and make them look glossy. Thoroughly clean your hands and fingernails, removing dirt around the cuticles and under the nails, then apply the moisturizer and let it absorb. Voila: shiny, healthy looking nails!