Picking out a nail polish colour? Lots of fun. Battling thin, weak, flaky nails and polish that chips after little more than 24 hours? Less so.
It can be difficult to keep your hands and your manicure in great shape when your nails aren’t in good condition.
The good news is, there are a number of ways to help remedy nails that are looking less than their best.
There can be a number of reasons for weak and flaking nails. It can be because of lifestyle habits and these are easier to remedy, but the most important thing to take on board first, is to consider your general health.
Nails can be affected by genetics, certain medical conditions and nutrient deficiencies, so if the issues are ongoing, it might be something to mention to your GP. If you have lifting off the nail bed, or thick white patches you could have a fungal nail infection, so it’s also worth getting those checked.
Of course, your nails can also get weaker and glow more slowly with age, another fun fact we’d prefer to ignore!
Here are some easy tips to strengthen your nails:
Take a break between manicures
It’s not one we like to hear, but the chemicals and physical effects of regular filing and polish can play a part in nails becoming weak and dry and prone to peeling. Durable manicures like gel polish that needs to be cured under UV lights but will then last for weeks, can also mean your nail beds aren’t getting time to rest or access to care and natural oils from your skin. The harsh removal process, which often involves soaking a long soak in dehydrating acetone, coupled with aggressive scraping, does your nails no favors also.
If you are tempted to pick off your polish your nails could be even more at risk of thinning as you take off the top layer of your nail with the polish.
We’re not suggesting you go with bare nails forever, just that periodically taking a break for a few weeks and spending that time nourishing nails with care products will help.
Protect your nails from too much water
Nails are particularly susceptible to too much water exposure as they can actually absorb the moisture. Repeated drying after this absorption strips the natural oils and contributes to weakening and peeling.
While every sort water-related activity can put stress on your nails, including long periods in the ocean or pool, its activities where your hands are soaking in water that can be particularly detrimental. For this reason, it’s a good idea to wear gloves if you’re washing the dishes or hand washing clothes. Use of a nourishing hand lotion with protective oils before or after water exposure can also be a good idea.
Try these nail care products: Essie Hard To Resist Nail Strengthener; Mavala Nail Hardener; Kester Black Rest & Repair Mask; OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil; Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Moisturising Hand Treatment
Moisturise your cuticles
It seems counterintuitive after saying water can damage nails but what we really mean is returning nourishing oils to the area your nails grow from. Just like our increased understanding that caring for our scalp will help produce healthy strong hair, so too focusing on our cuticles may help strengthen our nails.
Look for a tiny bottle or brush-tip or roller-ball tube of cuticle oil and carry it with you, applying whenever you remember while you’re in the car, on the bus, at your desk or talking on the phone. Cuticle oils commonly contain plant oils that help nourish nails like jojoba, grape seed, sesame, apricot seed, sunflower and cupuacu oils and help soften your cuticles so they are less likely to harden or tear.
Eat a balanced diet
Keratin, a protein that helps form hair, nails and your skin’s outer layer is susceptible to dietary changes and deficiencies. To ensure your nails grow as strong as possible, eat a wide variety of healthy foods including those thought to help boost keratin, including lean protein, fish, eggs, leafy greens, nuts and fruit.
Iron deficiency is also thought to be a factor that may contribute to weak nails, so foods rich in iron are important to include too.
Try a supplement
While you shouldn’t rely on them to work wonders, a dedicated supplement can help boost a diet that is nutritionally lacking. Common supplements that aim to support hair, skin and nail health often include the likes of iron, biotin, collagen and vitamins A and C.
It’s important to remember that nail supplements will only make a difference to your nail health if you are already lacking the vitamins they contain and you should follow the guidelines on the packaging and check with your GP if you are taking other medications.
Apply a nail hardener or strengthening base coat
Not intended for long term use, these products can help prevent more damage from occurring while you deal with the underlying reasons nails are brittle.
Applied on bare nails, these products are infused with a host of essential vitamins and proteins and create a protective barrier against daily wear and tear as well as providing instant nail strength and resistance.