We dream of having long, luxurious talons like Rihanna, but sometimes your body just won’t let you be great. For some, growing long, strong nails is a cinch and for others, it can be a struggle. Whether it’s breaking, peeling or splitting, having brittle nails can be quite a struggle, especially when you’re trying your darndest to grow them out.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go through life dealing with brittle nails. We asked dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf, Director of Laser & Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards to offer some valuable tips on how to strengthen and grow your weak, brittle nails in no time.
1. You can’t strengthen nails through diet
It may seem that brittle nails are a problem from the inside out and you may consider changing your diet in order to help promote growth. But according to Waldorf, eating healthier isn’t necessarily going to do much to change the state of your nails. “There are no foods to strengthen the nails,” she tells us emphatically. She also mentions that weak nails are not necessarily a sign of a vitamin deficiency, but it’s important to pay attention to which nails are actually brittle. “If the problem is contained to one or two nails, it is important to also rule out fungus with a fungal culture.” Edwards says that a lot of times, brittle nails are just a genetic trait and suggests using brands like Nail Tek Formula to help your nails along.
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Much like the rest of your skin, your nail area needs to be moisturized in order to get some healthy growth. If you are a manicure junkie, this is particularly important as your nails go through a lot to get perfectly shaped and lacquered. If your nails are really dry, Waldorf suggests applying Vaseline under cotton gloves. Make sure your cuticles and the skin around the nails are moisturized as much as possible, so a good, non-drying hand cream is important to have if you’re trying to get some growth. Edwards suggests using a cuticle balm at night to help boost moisture.
3. Biotin is your friend
While you can’t eat your way to stronger nails, there are supplements you can take to encourage nail growth, like biotin. Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that makes the fatty acids that help promote hair and nail growth. It can also be beneficial for skin health. Waldorf says the vitamin can help you grow your nails “if the reason for the brittleness is age, genetic or metabolic.” If you have some kind of fungal infection on your nail, biotin isn’t going to do much to help you, so it’s important to check with a doctor to rule out fungus as the reason for your stunted nail growth. Though biotin is useful in promoting nail growth and skin health, some people who use the vitamin in large enough doses say they experience breakouts. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water if you’re taking the vitamin to help minimize the breakouts.
4. File your nails the right way
If you’re going to keep your nails healthy and strong, you have to take extra care to keep them that way when you’re getting a manicure. Edwards warns against filing your nails in a back and forth motion, saying that you should file only in one direction, as it is gentler on the nail.
5. Pay attention to ingredients
The ingredients inside nail products and products you use in general can weaken or strengthen your nails. If you’re looking to harden your talons, Edwards suggests looking for a keratin-based polish. She also warns us to avoid products that have ingredients like ammonia and bleach, which can weaken your precious claws.
6. Repair your nails
Nothing is more annoying than seeing a nail in the early stages of breaking or peeling. It’s enough to make you want to rip off the peeling section or cut the entire nail off completely. But Edwards has a quick fix for that. “Lightly buff the nail and add nail glue or a strengthening base coat then ridge filler.” This should help patch up your wayward nail.