Weak nails that are prone to breaking or bending before breaking can be an annoyance, not to mention a confidence killer. But as enticing as it may be to conceal your brittle and peeling nails with a permanent gel or acrylic manicure, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can restore your nails to their former glory.
So, what initially causes our nails to become feeble and brittle? Our nails are made up of layers of keratin, a protein also found in our hair and skin.” “As we age, the cells in our bodies produce keratin at a slower rate, which can cause nails to weaken and appear dry and dull.”
The aging process is not the only factor that can negatively impact our nails. Extreme cold, excessive hand-washing, and chemical contact can all deplete your nails, leaving them brittle and prone to breakage.
Fortunately, this also means that much of what it takes to strengthen your nails is (literally) in your hands. According to physicians, here’s how to make it happen:
1. Moisturize your hands and nails regularly
Frequently moisturizing your nails and adjacent skin with hand cream can prevent further nail degradation. Aquaphor Healing Ointment and Vaniply Skin Protectant are ointments that nourish and protect your nails from future harm by sealing in moisture.
Cuticle oil also aids in repairing, nourishing, and moisturizing brittle nails. “I recommend L’Occitane Shea Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Oil,” she states. It contains a high concentration (30 percent) of shea oil to help soften cuticles and nourish nails. And if you do not regularly visit a nail salon, there are safe methods to maintain your cuticles at home.
2. Keep your nails on the shorter side
While some of us feel most attractive with long fingernails, this is not the best method to strengthen them. Reducing the length of your nails while you develop their strength if you’re experiencing problems with their fragility. “Shorter nails are less likely to break because there are fewer exposed edges to tear and less surface area that can absorb water and chemicals.” Once the nails have been trimmed, round the edges with a manicure file to prevent snags.
3. Become a nail-filing master
Using a soft nail file to maintain the edges of your nails smooth. With coarser grains, you run the danger of tearing the nail, leading to peeling and hangnails.
Use long, swift, but delicate strokes to file your fingernails in one direction. Using the Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer because “back and forth seesaw motions will cause the nail to splinter.”
“The micro-fiber material it’s made of is extremely gentle on the nails, while still achieving a clean shape,”.
4. Ditch nail polish removers that contain acetone
A nail polish remover containing acetone, the solvent responsible for the lightning-fast dissolution of nail lacquer, is harsh on fragile nails and can dry them out. “This can lead to peeling, cracking, and those unsightly white spots.
Tenoverten Lacquer Remover Without Acetone. “It contains essential oils, removes nail polish in seconds, and is very gentle on nails and cuticles.
5. Don’t overuse hand sanitizer
Because hand sanitizers are typically alcohol-based, frequent use can cause your cuticles to become extremely brittle and dry. “If you must use hand sanitizer, avoid getting it on your nails and don’t overuse it.” Using hand sanitizer wipes can make it simpler to avoid the nail area during application; if you prefer liquid hand sanitizer, be sure to apply moisturizer afterward to even the scales.
6. Eat more foods that promote strong nails
Avoid yo-yo dieting, which can result in vitamin deficiencies that place your nails’ strength at risk. Protein and calcium are believed to promote nail health, according to a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Connecticut. Biotin-rich foods, such as vegetables, eggs, and legumes, may also be beneficial.
7. Stay hydrated
“Drinking enough water is essential for overall health, and nail health is no exception,” “Without adequate moisture, nails can become brittle and break or peel easily.” Hydration helps cuticles retain moisture and maintain strength. (Here is a hydration calculator to ensure you’re drinking enough.)
8. Consider popping biotin supplements
Biotin (also known as vitamin b7) and other vitamins are said to enhance hair and nail growth, particularly biotin (also known as vitamin b7). However, this has not been conclusively demonstrated. “Because it is water-soluble, the body does not store it, so you must consume it daily.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 30 micrograms (mcg) of biotin should be consumed daily by the majority of individuals. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the typical recommended supplement dose is up to 3,000 micrograms daily for six months, but your doctor may recommend less or more depending on your health.
If there is no improvement in nail strength by that time, it is unlikely that biotin supplements will be beneficial. However, if your nails do become stronger and you decide to take biotin supplements on a regular basis, you should cease taking them a few days before undergoing any lab tests, as biotin can skew the results.
9. Minimize water exposure
When your hands are submerged in water for extended periods of time (such as while doing the chores, taking a bath, or swimming), this dehydrates not only your skin but also your nails.
“Water follows water, so the water in our bodies decreases the longer we soak.” Wearing cotton-lined gloves during chores and keeping your nails out of the water for the majority of your soak or swim can minimize the blowback; if this is not feasible, thoroughly moisturizing your hands and nails after a dip is the next best option.
10. Add a nail strengthener to your routine
Prescription topical medications, such as Nuvail and Genadur, can aid in the strengthening of weakened nails. Although over-the-counter nail hardeners can be effective in the short term, prescription strengtheners are the best option for long-term use because they contain compounds that both increase the nail’s strength and lock in moisture to prevent future brittleness. “consistent and dedicated use of nail hardeners is essential for positive outcomes.” If you believe that a prescription nail strengthener would be beneficial for your nails, discuss your options with your physician.
11. Cut back on gel and acrylic manicures
Frequent gel or acrylic manicures can cause your nails to peel, thereby weakening them. They may be promoted as an easy alternative for people who have difficulty growing their nails, but they can cause your nails to peel and weaken them.
These manicures expose your digits to excessive quantities of acetone in the soak required to remove them, which is extremely drying to the nail. If you choose to rotate these types of manicures, give your nails time to breathe in between applications or reserve them for special occasions. If you are removing your gel manicure or acrylic manicure at home, be sure to do so carefully and without probing!
12. Choose non-toxic nail polishes
Avoiding nail polishes containing formaldehyde, DBP, and toluene, which are harsher compounds for already fragile nails. Look for polishes that state “3-free” on the container, indicating that they do not contain these questionable substances. (There are also brands that label themselves “5-free” and “7-free,” meaning that in addition to the big three, their polishes do not contain formaldehyde resin, camphor, TPHP, or xylene.)
Zoya, Butter London, and Deborah Lippmann are well-known brands of non-toxic nail varnish. You can always search the EWG’s cosmetics database to determine whether your favorite nail varnish brands are non-toxic.
13. Always apply base and top coats
Base and top coats are particularly beneficial for brittle nails because they provide an additional barrier of protection against dehydration and fracturing. As an example, Essie’s Grow Stronger Base Coat nourishes and preserves nails, while the brand’s Good to Go Top Coat prevents chips and peeling. Bonus: a decent top coat will prolong the flawless appearance of your manicured nails.
14. Take breaks between manicures
Your cuticles must be able to breathe. “Constant use of nail polish, even non-toxic polish, can weaken the nail, If you notice that your nails have become especially fragile (and you paint them frequently), refrain from applying nail polish for one month to enable them to grow and strengthen. Applying a keratin treatment, such as CND RescueRXx, between manicures can nourish your nails during the break.
15. Get a check-up
While exposure to the elements and aging are the most common causes of brittle nails, you should consult a physician if the problem is new or if home remedies are ineffective. Certain conditions, such as iron deficiency (anemia), hypothyroidism, psoriasis, and Raynaud’s Syndrome (a circulatory disorder), can impact nail strength. The sooner you treat any underlying health conditions that may be interfering with the growth of your nails, the sooner they will become healthier and stronger.