If you have dry, brittle nails that break or tear, we know that it isn't just annoying—it can also be downright painful and even an indicator of a nutritional deficiency or infection. If you find yourself suffering from nail breakage, there are a handful of lifestyle changes that can help your nails get back to healthy, smooth, and strong.
Growing long, healthy nails can be one of the trickiest areas of beauty to master. We're here to fill you in on how to prevent your nails from breaking, once and for all. From exactly how to boost your diet to which environmental factors may be wreaking havoc on your nails. We'll also weigh in on the bad habits to break, the biotin myths to beware of, and your best bets for achieving the nails you've always wanted. Head below for tips to improve your nail health today.
Remember you are what you eat.
Like so much of our outward appearance—from how clear our skin is to how shiny our hair is—our nail health begins with the nutrients we put in our body. Eating a well-balanced diet as well as increasing your biotin intake is your best bet for helping to strengthen your nails. Biotin is a B vitamin found in a variety of foods, the highest amounts of biotin are found in animal proteins, like eggs, chicken, and salmon. However, you can also consume biotin in plant-based foods including nuts, seeds, spinach, and sweet potatoes. It's always more recommended to get any vitamin and mineral you can naturally from your diet, as your body absorbs them better from diet than in a supplement form.
When necessary, take a multivitamin.
While biotin supplements are a popular product in the beauty world, they're no longer seen by experts as the best option. Although dermatologists used to recommend biotin as an over-the-counter treatment to help strengthen nails, an FDA warning highlighted that biotin can actually interfere with lab tests—so these supplements are no longer encouraged to add to your routine. As recommended above, focus more on a balanced diet to get those necessary nutrients.
Prioritizing real, vitamin-rich foods to get your nutrients is your best bet. Even after integrating a healthy diet you still feel like you need an extra boost, a daily multivitamin should be all you need to get the right amount of biotin for strong nails.
Keep your nails moisturized.
At the root of every long, lustrous nail is a healthy nail bed. One of the most common causes of weak, brittle nails is dryness. Just as your hands can become rough and cracked from washing, the same symptoms can be passed to the nail. Be sure to apply hand lotion after each time you wash your hands. Not only do moisturized hands promote healthy nail growth, but they make hands and nails feel and look better too.
Another daily moisturizing practice you should adopt is applying cuticle oil in the evening. Cuticle oil is one of the best things you can use on your nails. If you don’t have cuticle oil on hand, any moisturizing oil will do, like olive or coconut oil. Well-moisturized nail beds grow healthier nails and well-moisturized nails bend and flex instead of breaking. Not only does it promote flexibility, but if you are wearing polish, gel or dip powder nails, it can prolong your manicure. Apply it as often as you want, aiming for at least once a day.
Don't Pick or Bite
This may be a tough one if biting your nails is a nervous habit, but try to eliminate it. For one, the moisture from your saliva can cause your nails to weaken. Your mouth also carries a number of germs, and nail-biting increases the risk of bacterial infections. This rule also applies to your cuticles, which actually act as a kind of barrier to your nail bed to prevent fungal infections. If you really can’t stand the sight of them, you can push your cuticles back, but avoid removing them altogether. By keeping your nail beds moisturized as we explained above, your cuticles will start to become less and less pronounced.
Remove your Gel Polish or Dip Powder the right way.
Don't peel them off! Just as you're not supposed to pick at your face when you have a breakout, it's best if you leave your fingers alone when your nails are breaking or your polish is peeling. Remember that these products are always going to be stronger than the top layer of your nails, so when you peel them off it will take some of your nail off with it. When properly applied and removed, neither of these nail applications should damage your nails.
Keep it short and rounded.
Keeping your nails shorter can keep them from snagging and ultimately tearing, but even the shape of your nails can reduce your chances of damage. If you've ever had square nails, you've probably experienced a broken corner or a tear on the side of your nail, round nails experience these problems much less frequently.
If problems persist, get an in-person medical evaluation.
If you've stuck to the advice above and are still suffering from weak and brittle nails, it may be time to get a medical evaluation. Nails can be affected by a variety of dermatologic conditions, including psoriasis and nail fungus. When it comes to caring for your nail health, the best approach is a balanced diet, gentle nail care, and seeking an in-person evaluation if you are concerned about any nail conditons.