Who among us doesn’t want nice looking stronger nails? Nearly 70% of women spend up to $50 during a nail salon visit, and 40% of women who go to nail salons regularly make the trip at least twice a month.
But for all the time and money spend on nail care, there is still one thing a nail technician can’t give you and that’s stronger nails. Sure, they can paint them and make them look pretty, but it’s still up to you to maintain your nails and safeguard them from chipping and breaking.
It’s easier than you think, especially if you make nail care a part of your regular beauty routine. If you’re frustrated by the state of your fingertips, here’s how to get stronger nails in ten simple steps.
1. Don’t Use Them as a Tool
Table of Contents
- 1. Don’t Use Them as a Tool
- 2. Keep Them Moisturized
- 3. Wear Gloves When Doing Household Chores
- 4. Protect Them From Winter Cold
- 5. Go Easy on the Manicures
- 6. Don’t Peel Off Old Polish
- 7. Don’t Bite Them
- 8. Keep Them Short and Filed
- 9. Eat a Healthy Diet
- 10. Stay Hydrated
- Now You Know How to Get Stronger Nails
Just as using your teeth to open or rip things can lead to an emergency dental visit, your nails shouldn’t be used as a household tool. Although it may be tempting to slide one underneath a soda can ring to help pop it up, you can chip and weaken your nails this way. Reach for a untensil to do the trick, or only use our fingerpads when trying to pry something open.
Just let your nails be by resisting the urge to use them as a substitute for a hard object and they’ll grow longer and stronger for you.
2. Keep Them Moisturized
In today’s COVID world, the constant use of hand sanitizer plus frequent hand washing can lead to dry nails that crack and break more easily. Try to use a moisturizing hand cream a few times a day to counteract the dryness, and be sure to rub a little into your cuticles and nails. Look for products that are made with olive oil and other nourishing ingredients.
In a pinch, apply a few drops of olive oil directly to dry hands and nails and rub it in well. It will immediately soften your cuticles and help keep nails strong. Jojoba oil is also noted for helping keep hands soft and nails strong.
3. Wear Gloves When Doing Household Chores
Submerging nails in water for long periods of time can soften and weaken them. A pair of trusty rubber dishwashing gloves will go a long way towards keeping your nails protected from water and exposure to strong detergents. Gloves will also protect the sensitive skin on your hands from allergic reactions to soap and chemical-based cleaning products.
Be sure to wear gloves when doing any household chore that has the potential to get your hands dirty or that may damage your nails.
Try to avoid super long showers and baths which can weaken nails. It may be hard to avoid submerging them when you spend a day at the pool or beach, but remember that they’ll be softer for a while after soaking in water. As they dry, they’ll harden again.
4. Protect Them From Winter Cold
The same cold, dry winter air that can hurt our skin and lips can also be punishing towards fingernails. Wear gloves during the cold winter months—not only do they protect your nails from the temperature drop, but wearing gloves can help prevent you from touching surfaces tainted with a cold or flu virus.
You’ll also want to ramp up your hand and nail moisturizing routine during the winter to help keep nails strong well into the spring.
5. Go Easy on the Manicures
We know what you’re thinking: don’t manicures strengthen your nails? Yes and no. A base coat and the right nail polish can protect and possibly make nails stronger, but they can also be too much of a good thing.
If you’re constantly running to the nail salon to have the old polish switched out for a new color, a manicure can do more harm than good. Nail polish remover such as acetone is very drying to nails, not to mention it has a strong, unpleasant smell. Many nail polish products themselves contain formaldehyde which is not only smelly, but the same chemical used to embalm dead bodies.
And if you’re having a gel or acrylic polish applied, chances are your nail technician is buffing your nails down to make the product adhere better. This means you have thinner, weaker nails as a result.
If you must get manicures, it’s better for your nails if you try to go for as long as possible in between appointments. Better yet, you should give your nails a chance to recover for a while after the old polish is removed. Let them breathe and give them a chance to grow a bit before getting them painted again.
Another option is to do manicures yourself at home using more eco-friendly nail polish products that don’t come with the strong chemical smells. They’re likely to be better for your nails, relying on ingredients other than acetone to dissolve polish and replacing them with nail-friendly ones such as collagen. Don’t underestimate their ability to remove even the darkest shades of polish.
If you can’t bear the thought of bare nails, try a nail polish made with more nail-friendly ingredients
6. Don’t Peel Off Old Polish
We’ve all done it—peeling off a layer of old nail polish instead of dissolving it away. While this may seem like a better option than using the acetone nail polish remover, it can actually do more harm to nails. When you peel that polish off, it’s also taking away bits of nail particles, leaving the surfaces looking dull and uneven.
You may also be inadvertently making scratches into the nails with your other nails. You’re better off removing your polish with nail polish remover, then washing and moisturizing your nails.
7. Don’t Bite Them
Biting nails can leave dents and uneven areas from your teeth, not to mention the exposure to your saliva can soften them. Biting also creates jagged edges that can snag your clothing and rip off part of the nail. Try to be aware of your temptation to bite your nails and do something else instead such as chewing gum.
8. Keep Them Short and Filed
It goes without saying that the longer nails are, the more likely they are to break. So you can avoid the problem altogether by keeping them trimmed and filed so that they don’t grow beyond a certain length where they can peel and chip.
Speaking of filing, try to avoid filing back-and-forth in a seesaw motion as this can weaken nails. Instead, make filing strokes in one direction only and stick to it. Start at the outside edges and finish in the middle to help shape your nails.
Only file nails when they’re dry, not after they’ve been exposed to water for a while. Filing them in their softer state will make them more difficult to shape properly.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
Did you know that doctors can tell if you have certain health conditions by looking at your fingernails? That’s because vitamin deficiencies can also show up in our nail health. A well-balanced diet that includes lean protein and vitamins A and E can contribute to healthy nails.
Good food choices for strong nails include lean meats, salmon, leafy green vegetables, eggs, nuts, and beans. Taking collagen powder or supplements or sipping bone broth—a good source of natural collagen—can also contribute to strong nails, as they’re made of collagen, which is found in bones.
You can also try nail growth vitamins which contain omega-3s, biotin, and other nutrients to target nail health. Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is very important for helping to maintain strong nails. It actually promotes cell turnover and new growth in our hair, nails, and skin.
10. Stay Hydrated
Although water is not your nails’ friend, it can help hydrate them from the inside out if you drink it. Staying hydrated helps keep skin, nails, and hair healthy. Sip a glass throughout the day and flavor the water with citrus fruit and herbs to make it more palatable if you can’t drink it plain.
Remember that too much coffee and alcohol can dehydrate you and contribute to weak, brittle nails.
Now You Know How to Get Stronger Nails
Now that you know how to get stronger nails, remember that forming your new nail habits can take time. The good news is that nails grow back, and they grow fairly fast. If you can resist your old ways, you should be enjoying longer, stronger nails in no time.
For more tips on how to always look and feel your best, visit our Health section.