Without correct care and the right products, I have very thin and fragile nails. Whilst growing my problems include, peeling, cracks at the sides of the nails and breaks.
Over the years I have been doing nails I have tried a lot of products, vitamins, treatments and any home remedy that I happened across. Some of these worked incredibly well and still do today; others made my nails worse, made very little difference, or was a waste of time and money by doing nothing at all.
I’m sharing my knowledge of what causes the problem of weak nails and what actually works to strengthen the nails, so you do not make the same mistakes I have made or waste your hard earned money.
What causes weak, peeling, splitting or breaking nails?
There are a huge amount of causes that can make your nails weak, in my experience of doing nails the most common are water, harsh chemicals, detergents, acetone in nail polish remover, peeling chipped nail polish off the nail bed, nail biting and glue on/ stick on false nails. Some nail problems can be due to a medical condition, so it is always worth asking your doctor on your next visit.
What can I do to improve the health of my nails?
There are many things you can do to improve the condition of your nails and to help strengthen them. To make it easy to follow I have broken it up into steps that are simple, address each issue and give recommendations on products that work to help that problem.
- Treat from inside out. Try a biotin supplement and vitamins to aid the overall health, strength and thickness of the nails. Drink plenty of water daily, this helps hydrate the nails – removing the issue of dryness and brittleness. I personally use ‘Perfectil Original’ from Vitabiotics. The ingredients include a range of vitamins as well as biotin. Over three months I noticed a difference in the thickness of my nails, the longer I used them the thicker and stronger my nails became.
- Patience. If your nails are very thin and fragile, perhaps due to the removal of extensions or gel polish. It will take time to grow out the damaged nail. Healthy nails do not grow over night. Don’t give up, be patient. You will see the results of the steps you have done to improve the condition of your nails.
- Protection is the best defense. When dealing with water, harsh chemicals, detergents etc – wear rubber gloves. If you are decorating or gardening, make sure to wear a pair of thick gardening gloves. Avoid press on false nails or glue on false nails. Try to minimise the use of nail polish remover if possible.
- Nails are not tools. Scrapping, peeling labels, opening and unfastening items are all things that can easily damage or break a nail. You may not realise you do this, but for strong nails you must stop using your nails as tools. Have something like a key ring tool. When you have the correct tools at hand, you tend to reach for them first; rather than your nails being the first option. I use a ‘Victorinox manager’, which I have on my key ring, it does everything! It has a pair of tweezers, a pair of scissors, a pen, a knife, a file, a bottle/ can opener, screwdrivers and much more.
- Begin with a strong base. Filing the nail in a sawing motion with a rough emery board will lead to small tears being made along the edge of the nails, this causes splitting, tearing and eventually breaks. Try using a glass – ideally a crystal nail file and going slowly and gently in one direction across the nail, leaving you with a smooth, sealed edge. A basic round shape is easier to grow out as there is no corners to snag on anything. I use a couple of files; I use a ‘OPI’ crystal file and ‘Leighton Denny’ crystal file. I pop them everywhere, so if I get a snag I can deal with it immediately – that way I am not tempted to pick at it and make it worse.
- Care for all parts of the nail. This includes cuticles, push back cuticles with a hoof stick or orange stick while they are soft – do not cut them. Apply a cuticle cream, oil or lotion everyday and massage into the nail and cuticle for a few minutes; this helps the circulation which helps growth, cares for dry, brittle, flaky nails and give an overall healthy looking appearance to the nails. I personally use ‘OPI Avoplex’ several times a day, at night before bed I like to give the nails and cuticles a good massage with ‘Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter’.
- Hydrated nails = Healthy nails. Dehydrated nails cause dryness and brittleness, not the best for healthy strong nails. Moisture needs to be put back into the nail to hydrate and bond nail layers together. Hydrating as much as possible throughout the day combats this issue, apply rich hand lotions – the best are usually thick and often greasy. What I use personally depends on what is closest to me at the time but they will usually be one of two favourites. I love ‘OPI Avojuice’ and ‘Crabtree and Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy’.
- Help Strengthen. Several treatments are on the market today. A lot of these products are the work of snake oil salesman, claiming to do miracles for the nails but delivering nothing. Healthy nails are all down to a lot of the steps above, helping the nail from the inside out and care. What is a fantastic way to help you nails is applying a top coat. This will give the surface an armour that will protect the nail from chips, water etc. Most are inexpensive and readily available. I use ‘OPI Top Coat’, it dries fast, it’s strong, it’s self leveling and a bottle lasts for a long time so value for money.
Conclusion: Everyone wants beautiful, strong, healthy nails. To achieve this we do have to do a little work and upkeep to maintain them. With the steps given hopefully you will now know how to do this easily without even thinking about it, it will become a nail routine as it did for me.
- Biotin/ Vitamin supplements help strengthen and thicken the nails.
- Be patient. Nails need time to grow healthy.
- Wear rubber/ gardening gloves when doing manual or heavy jobs and when dealing with water or chemicals.
- Do not use your nails as tools. Use the correct tool for that job and save your nails.
- File gently in one direction, using a crystal file.
- Use cuticle oil or butter daily to nourish.
- Hydrate the nails several time a day using a good, thick hand lotion.
- Apply a clear top coat to protect and strengthen the natural nail.
I hope that these will help you and your nails be the best they can be.