Strong, healthy nails can be an indicator of good health, but sometimes our nails aren’t as strong as we’d like them to be.
The good news is that we can always make changes to our lifestyle and habits to help strengthen nails and get them where we’d like. Here are some tips that you can use to help strengthen your nails in no time.1. Take a biotin supplement
Biotin (also known as vitamin H and vitamin B-7) is one of the B vitamins. Because it’s water-soluble, it isn’t stored by the body, so you have to ensure that you consume it daily.
Biotin can help strengthen hair and nails and also helps the body’s nervous system to function properly. It can be found in foods like sardines, cooked eggs, and legumes, or you can take a B vitamin or supplement.
Check with your healthcare provider before taking a biotin supplement to ensure that it’s safe for you.2. Minimize exposure to water
Too much soaking in water can cause your nails to become weak and brittle. Wear gloves when washing dishes, and try to keep your hands out of the water while taking a bath.
It’s impossible to always avoid submerging your hands, of course, but this is something to be mindful about.3. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is essential for health, and nail health is no exception. Without adequate moisture, nails can become brittle and break and peel easily. Drinking enough water helps them to retain moisture and stay strong.4. Pay attention to your diet
Make sure you’re eating a healthy and varied diet as well as taking a multivitamin with minerals. A diet that’s deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals can affect your entire body — including your nails.5. Be careful about the products you use
Many nail polishes or treatments contain harsh chemicals that can actually weaken nails. Nail polish remover that contains acetone should be avoided since it can damage nails.
Look for nontoxic nail polishes and soaks as well as acetone-free polish remover.6. Avoid using gel or acrylic nails, if possible
While these are touted as an easy alternative for those who have trouble growing their nails, frequent use can cause your nails to peel, which weakens them. If you must get them, don’t wear them continuously.
Exposure to the ultraviolet light required for gel polish has been identified as a risk factor for cancer, although exposure is far lower than what you get with UV tanning equipment. Exposure also ages the skin that supports a healthy nail.7. Give your nails a break from polish
Along those same lines, although nail polish looks nice, your nails need to breathe. Constant use of polish, even nontoxic polish, can weaken the nail.
After wearing nail polish for a week or so, remove the nail polish with an acetone-free polish remover, and then let your nails be polish-free for a week.8. Keep your nails on the shorter side
Long nails are more likely to break and be caught on things, while shorter nails are less likely to be chipped, cracked, or split, helping to keep them strong.9. Don’t use your nails to do things
Instead, use the pads of your fingers to open up a soda can or use a paper clip to reach something in a small space. Using your nails as tools can lead to breakage and chipping, which can in turn weaken the nail.10. Use lotion on your nails
After removing polish, or if you think you’re not hydrated enough, use a hand cream on your hands, making sure to moisturize your nails. You can do this every time you wash your hands.11. Avoid drying products
If you use hand sanitizer, try not to get it on your nails, and don’t overdo it. Constantly applying hand sanitizer can be disastrous for the nails. This is because the sanitizer dries out nails (and hands), leading to brittle nails.12. Change how you file your nails
One Direction – it’s not just the name of a boy band! Filing your nails in a back-and-forth motion like a saw can actually weaken your nails. File in one direction only, and go easy on the sides of the nails since filing too much there can weaken the nail.13. Use cleaning products with caution
When cleaning around the house, wear rubber gloves. Many cleaning products or cleaning wipes contain chemicals that can weaken the nail. Gloves help you to avoid contact with these chemicals.14. Take a closer look at your shampoo
If you’re using a shampoo that is drying or aims to strip oils (that is, one that’s for oily hair), it might be drying out your nails and causing weak or brittle nails. Try changing up your shampoo for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference.15. Talk to your doctor
If you’ve tried multiple things for several weeks and haven’t noticed any change in your nails, see a dermatologist. They can take a look at your nails and ask you questions about your routine and overall health.
If need be, they can prescribe a prescription-strength nail treatment that can help to strengthen your nails.Pay attention to your nails
Our nails can send lots of messages to others, and weak or brittle nails may make you self-conscious. Thankfully, there are lots of things you can do to help strengthen your nails and improve them.
If you’ve tried various remedies and nothing helps, see your doctor. There might be an underlying condition causing thin or brittle nails, and only by treating the root cause will your nails be able to become strong again.References:
Written by Jaime Herndon, MS, MPH, MFA — Updated on May 29, 2019
MacFarlane DF, et al. (2009). Occurrence of nonmelanoma skin cancers on the hands after UV nail light exposure. DOI:
Manicure and pedicure safety. (n.d.).
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Fingernails: Do’s and don’ts for healthy nails.
Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. (2018). Biotin: Fact sheet for health professionals.
The Skin Cancer Foundation’s official position on UV light and manicure safety. [Press release]. (2015).
Vitamin H (Biotin). (n.d.).
Photo Credit: Allison Christine