Even if your fingernails are flawless and silky to the touch, with not a single break or chip in sight, maintaining their strength is a completely different story.
A complete buzzkill is having nails that are too weak. However, despite how tempting it may be to cover up your brittle and peeling nails with a permanent gel manicure, there are other adjustments to your lifestyle that, when combined, can restore your nails to the splendor they once possessed.
Aging process is not the only factor that can negatively impact our nails. Exposure to elements such as intense cold, frequent hand-washing and chemical contact can deplete the nails, leaving them dry and brittle.
Fortunately, this also means that most of what it takes to strengthen your nails is (literally) in your hands. Here’s how to make it happen:
1. Regularly moisturize your hands and nails
Frequent application of hand cream to the nails and surrounding skin can prevent further degradation of the nails’ integrity.
2. Apply cuticle oil every day
Cuticle care is always recommended, regardless of the condition of your nails. Dehydrated, ragged cuticles can lead to damaged nailbeds and infection if left untreated; rehydrating and moisturizing the surrounding skin is essential for excellent nail care.
Include cuticle oil in your regular regimen: Numerous options contain fatty acids and vitamins that feed the nails and seal any microscopic skin cracks.
3. Keep your nails short
Because there are fewer exposed edges to rip and less surface area where water and chemicals can be absorbed, shorter nails are less likely to break. Once the nails have been clipped, round the edges with a nail file to prevent snagging.
4. Supplement with collagen or biotin
Your nails are composed of proteins and require an abundance of vitamins. Particularly, your nails are composed of keratin, thus it’s crucial to consume sufficient keratin-building amino acids.
Biotin and collagen are two of the most popular nail health supplements, as they tend to be the most effective. Several human studies demonstrate that biotin promotes the thickness and tenacity of nails. One study indicated that participants who took biotin pills had nailbeds that were 25 percent thicker than the placebo group.
5. Become an expert nail filer
Use a soft nail file to keep the edges of your nails smooth. With coarser grains, you run the danger of tearing the nail, leading to peeling and hangnails. Use lengthy, quick, but gentle strokes to file your fingernails in one direction.
6. Pull back your cuticles
Cuticle care is essential. In addition to oil, consistently pulling back your cuticles can prevent their overgrowth.
It is difficult to push back when the cuticle becomes thick and overgrows onto the nail. You never want to reach that position. This makes your cuticles susceptible to cracking and infection.
You don’t need to be too precise; a nice suggestion is to gently push them back every few days after stepping out of the shower, since the spray will soften the nails.
7. Toss nail polish removers containing acetone
A nail polish remover containing acetone is harsh on weak nails and can severely dry them off. This can result in peeling, cracking, and those ugly white spots.
8. Invest on clean polishing materials
Ensure that the nail polishes you use do not include dangerous compounds such as formaldehyde, camphor, or toluene.
The same applies to nail polish removers for removing your manicure. If you want to maintain your nails healthy, you should avoid acetone-based nail polish removers.
Instead, seek out choices that have moisturizing components for the natural nail, such as a soy-based remover; they can effectively dissolve polish while also strengthening the nail, and they are often loaded with additional vitamins and hydrating ingredients.
9. Choose a file with a high number of grits
Did you know that every nail file comes with a grit number? It is often a small number imprinted on the container or the file itself, and it indicates how coarse the file will be against your nails. The greater the number of grits, the softer the file.
In order to retain strong nails, you should choose a file with a higher grit number.
There is no need to scratch the nail plate here. Running your finger across the board, there shouldn’t be much friction.
10. Use a nail hardener
While these recommendations focus on natural ways to strengthen your nails, occasionally you need a little more assistance. Understandable!
A nail strengthener can do wonders, but be sure to get one that does not include formaldehyde (which is what traditional nail strengtheners are made of, as it makes polish dry stiff).
11. Reduce your use of gel and acrylic manicures
Frequent gel or acrylic manicures can cause your nails to peel, so weakening them. They may be promoted as a convenient alternative for people who have difficulties growing their nails, but they can cause your nails to peel and weaken them. These manicures also expose your digits to excessive amounts of acetone, which is extremely drying to the nail, during the removal process. If you choose to rotate these sorts of manicures, allow your nails time to breathe in between applications or reserve them for special occasions.
12. Select non-toxic nail polish
There are a lot of nail polishes such as semi cured gel nails, and regular nail polish. Avoid nail polishes that contain formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene, as they contain harsher chemicals. Look for polishes labeled “3-free,” which indicates that they do not contain these questionable chemicals. There are also “5-free” and “7-free” brands whose nail polishes do not include formaldehyde resin, camphor, TPHP, and xylene, in addition to the “big three.”
13. Protect your nails from exposure to chemicals and UV rays
In case you were unaware, the sun can also cause your nails to become yellow, brittle, and pitted.
To protect your nails’ tips, experts recommend using a UV-filtering lacquer that can absorb UV radiation (you can also paint on an opaque shade to physically block the sun).
On the chemical front, it is essential to be aware of any harsh substances that penetrate into your nails. You may have replaced your acetone-based nail polish remover, but consider additional everyday chemical exposures to your nails.
For instance, if you have traditional dish soap in your kitchen, you should use gloves when cleaning to prevent nail dehydration. (And even some dish soaps with a natural bent may contain drying ingredients like vinegar or lemon.)
14. Take breaks between each manicure
Your nails must be able to breathe. Consistent use of polish, even non-toxic lacquer, can cause nail deterioration. If you notice that your nails have grown extremely frail (and you paint them frequently), refrain from applying nail polish for one month to allow them to develop and strengthen.
15. Get a checkup
While exposure to the outdoors and aging are the most common causes of brittle nails, you should consult a doctor if the problem is new and does not respond to at-home treatments. Certain disorders, including iron deficiency (anemia), hypothyroidism, psoriasis, and Raynaud’s Syndrome (a circulation disorder), might impact the strength of the nails. The sooner you treat any underlying health conditions that may be interfering with the growth of your nails, the sooner they will regrow in healthier and stronger.