Health & Wellness

Keep Your Nails Strong and Healthy

The stronger your nails, the better they’ll look


Do you have a hard time growing your nails out because they’re weak and brittle? There are ways you can strengthen them, if you’re ready to exercise a bit of self-control and give up some bad habits.

– Wear gloves when washing dishes and cleaning around the house.
Washing dishes without wearing gloves can damage your nails by softening them. Also wear gloves when gardening or scrubbing the bathroom. Spending too much time in the bath or shower will also soften your nails, and drying your hands right after you wash them will help.

– Keep your nails dry, but your hands moist.
You should be keeping your hands moisturized, especially the area around your nails. You can apply petroleum jelly, castor oil, or olive oil to your cuticles once a day to keep them moisturized. Castor oil is rich in vitamin E and will help strengthen the skin. To avoid dry hands in the winter, don’t forget to wear your gloves.

– Nourish your nails.
Weak nails can be a sign that you’re not getting enough vitamins. Remember to eat a healthy diet full of whole foods, vegetables, and fruits. Iron- and antioxidant-rich foods will keep your nails healthier. Biotin supplments can help strengthen both your nails and your hair, but biotin is also found in coconut oil.

– Give up nail polish
If you’re ready to go all out for your nails, consider giving up nail polish completely. The chemicals in nail polish, and in nail polish removers, can damage and discolour your nails. Watch out for gel polishes, acrylic nail glue, acetone soaks, and acetone nail polish removers. If you do want to use polish—perhaps occasionally—look for brands that specifically exclude the ingredients toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde, which are known carcinogens.

– Trim and file your nails the right way.
Your nails will be less likely to break if you keep them a reasonable length. The longer you grow your nails, the weaker the ends will be and the more likely they’ll break. Trim your nails regularly and when you file them, don’t use a file that’s too harsh ils. A medium-grit file will keep your nails smooth and won’t damage the surrounding skin. Avoid filing back and forth—that can increase the chance your nails will tear. Instead, file in one direction.


Photo: iStock/MichalLudwiczak.