Brittle and weak nails: whether genetics dealt you a bad hand or you’re feeling the aftermath of acrylic nails or UV gel nail polish, brittle and weak nails happen to the best of us.
In fact, brittle and weak nails are a common complaint for 20% of the American population. Note that the words “brittle” and “weak” are not interchangeable. Brittle nails break because they are too hard, whereas weak nails break because they are too soft.
With some proper care and grooming, you can have healthy nails in no time, whether they’re brittle or weak. The best part? No need for harsh and smelly nail strengtheners! Most of the items you need to get your nails in tip top shape are right in your pantry or bathroom cabinet.
1. A Biotin-Rich Diet
Biotin, a B vitamin that helps battle mild depression and skin rashes in infants can also help cure brittle nails, according to several clinical dermatologists from Columbia University. It isn’t conclusive why biotin helps strengthen nails and reduce chips necessarily, but the idea to test on humans originated from veterinarians who used biotin to strengthen horse hooves and swine claws. There are numerous foods that contain biotin, including egg yolks, cauliflower, liver, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, whole grains and fish.
2. Keep Nails and Cuticle Beds Moisturized
Brittle or weak nails often emerge because your nails and cuticle beds are not receiving enough moisture. This is why it’s important that you slather on hand lotion on a regular basis, concentrating on rubbing the lotion on your nail and massaging it in your cuticle beds.
Massaging helps encourage blood flow to the nails which can stimulate nail growth. To retain the most moisture, look for products that contain Shea butter, collagen, and vitamin E. You also might want to avoid fragranced lotions. They typically have alcohol which dries out nails and make them worse, and “fragrance” can mean a grab bag of toxic chemicals.
Don’t have any lotion lying around? A dab of olive oil can do the trick too. Another way to lock in moisture is to actually paint your nails (with non-toxic nail polish, of course!). When the time comes to remove the polish however, don’t chip it away. This can end up stripping a layer of important keratin and leave your nails in bad shape. Instead, use tip number 3!
3. Use Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover
It may be a little tougher to remove some of the darker-colored nail polishes, but opting to skip on using the nail remover filled with damaging chemicals like acetone can really make a difference for your nails and skin. There are tons of “natural” nail polish removers made from natural ingredients like soy and corn that with a little bit of more elbow grease can get the job done and keep your hands and nails healthy.
4. Wear Gloves and Avoid Water
You want to make sure that whenever you’re dealing with harsh chemicals such as cleaning products or whenever your hands are immersed in water for long periods of time, like when washing dishes, that you’re protecting your hands and nails by wearing gloves.
Chemicals can wreak havoc and eat away at your nails for obvious reasons, water can be equally as damaging. This is because nail cells start to contract when they’re soaking in water for too long, and if there isn’t a moisturizing protective coat like lotion on your nails, the water will quickly absorb and make your nails weak and more prone to breakage. You also never want to file your nails when they’re wet, since this can cause severe damage.
[Healthy Nails photo via Shutterstock]