When it comes to getting acrylics and gorgeous gel manicures, it’s nice to go all out and get something a little extra fancy. Unfortunately, the brittle nails you may be left with after removing your most recent splurge on gel nails aren’t nearly as nice. If you want to keep getting more manicures and treating yourself, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you treat your nails just as well.

There are many ways to strengthen your nails, and we’ll look at three main categories to help you explore all your options. We have some tips below on how to keep your natural nails strong and healthy so that you can get as more worry-free fancy manicures.

Change Up Your Manicures to Strengthen Your Nails

While you might want to pull out all the stops every time you head to the nail salon, maybe you should reign it back a little. At the very least, you’ll want to give your nails a break from acrylic after acrylic makeover!

Leave Them Unpainted

Sure, everyone loves the dazzling colors that come with every nail makeover. However, giving your nails a few days off from getting painted could help strengthen them, especially if you’re someone who always puts nail polish on. Just let your nails breathe and rest naturally for a few days instead.

Waiting between treatments and new nail manicures can make a world of difference. Or, if you really like the colors, you should try a special nail strengthener polish instead of your normal polishes. If you want to learn more about nail polish strengtheners, you can jump ahead to our detailed look at them.

Try Out Shorter Nails

When you have longer nails, it can be easy to hit them against the wall, doorframe, or desk. Just by being at home, you have the chance to hit all sorts of objects; you may not even be aware of all the times you hit your nails on a hard surface. By cutting them shorter, or keeping away from those inch-long acrylic nails you’ve been eyeing for days, you could significantly decrease any brittleness that may have set in.

Even if you keep your nails on the longer side, cut your nails regularly to keep them from getting too long. Generally, the longer your nails are, the more likely you are to damage them.

Don’t Rip Off Gel Nails

It’s a guilty pleasure for all of us, but for the sake of your nails, you’ll want to steer clear. When you do pull off your gel nails without any preparation, it severely hurts your tips and even removes the top layers of your nail along with the polish. Yikes!

Over time, this could end up thinning your nails, hurting the nail bed, or even messing up growth patterns in the nail. It’s the quickest way to make your nails brittle and in need of some serious recovery efforts. If you do plan on removing them, make sure you go to the nail salon so that the professionals can take care of you.

You’ll definitely want to avoid removing acrylics on your own since it can even take the salon around two hours to completely get them off. For dips or gels, you can try removing them by yourself with extra precaution and care, doing it slowly and gently. Putting your hands in hot towels or wrapping your nails in cotton pads with acetone is another way to ease the removal process.

Healthier Lifestyle Changes That Strengthen Your Nails

white nails and nail polish

This is one of the cheapest, but hardest, ways to strengthen your nails. You may have to put in some extra effort to add in some healthier habits, but your nails and bank account will definitely thank you for it. Adding in a few small changes to your daily lifestyle is one of the best ways to strengthen your nails, though it may take a little while before you see the effects.

Drink More Water

You’ve heard this a million times before. Drinking more water can improve your overall health, and the health of your nails is no exception! If you don’t stay hydrated, your nails can easily end up becoming brittle. They might even start peeling if you stay dehydrated for long periods of time. Pick up a few extra glasses of water a day or set yourself alarms on your phone to remind yourself to drink.

Watch Your Diet

It goes without saying that the things you eat affect your entire body, nails included. Some changes that you might want to consider in your diet would be increasing your protein, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, or biotin intake. Those vitamins in particular can help improve your nails as well, which you can read more about here.

Check Your Shampoo

This might seem like an odd one, but you read it right. Shampoo can sometimes be drying as they work to strip the oil out of your hair, and this can end up affecting your nails that come in contact with them. You can try out some other shampoos that aren’t as drying, and just make sure that the one you own isn’t harming your nails.

Use Lotion to Counteract Drying Products

Some products, like lotion, can help soften your hands and nails when used consistently. Other products, like hand sanitizer, can end up drying out your nails if you don’t apply lotion regularly. Get yourself in the habit of using lotion often so that your nails don’t end up brittle from the soaps and hand sanitizers that you use.

Wear Gloves When Using Cleaning Products

Laundry and dish detergents contain all sorts of harsh chemicals, which is good for getting out stains but terrible for your nails. Pick up a pair of reusable gloves and wear them the next time you’re cleaning out your house, just to give your nails an extra layer of protection. Cleaning products and wipes are good at drying out your hands and nails, leaving them brittle and dull.

Be Gentle When Filing Nails

When you’re filing nails, don’t file off too much at once, and also be sure to file with care. You generally want to try filing in only one direction (just left to right) rather than sawing the file back and forth. The latter method can end up weakening the nail.

In addition, you want to take extra care with the sides while filing so that you don’t end up overdoing it. Investing in softer nail files can be another easy way to make sure you don’t get too rough with your nails as you take care of them.

Keep Nails Out of Water

Soaking your nails in water for extended periods of time can lead to them getting too soft and flimsy. This in turn leads to excessive peeling. You should aim to keep your nails out of water when possible by wearing gloves when you know they need to be submerged for an extended period of time.

Strengthening Nail Health Products and Treatments

woman applying oil to nails

If you want a fast way to see improvements in your nail health, this should be your go-to. Getting some creams and oils that you apply daily can be a fast way to boost your nails and keep them from getting brittle. With daily care and treatment, you’ll see a visible improvement before long.

Cuticle Oils

Cuticle oils can help nails get stronger and grow faster so that you can get as many acrylics as you want. They can also be applied whenever you’d like since you can’t overhydrate your fingers. The best time to try out cuticle oils is usually right before bed so that the oil has a chance to soak through your nails.

Jojoba oil is perfect at softening and treating drier cuticles while strengthening and assisting nail growth. Sesame oil is another possible option that’s hydrating and moisturizing. Simply apply them before bed, and your nails and cuticles will be much healthier and stronger when you wake up. There are lots of affordable oils specifically marketed for cuticles as well, such as the Opi ProSpa oil.

Nail Oils

Nail oils are ones that are directly applied to your nails to help them grow and strengthen. Examples of good oils to use on your nails would be olive oil, sweet almond oil, or even myrrh essential oil. Each helps with moisturizing your nails so that they won’t get too brittle and crack. For example, the Bee Natural nail oil is a solid choice to strengthen your nails.

Some oils are marketed as oils for cuticles and nails, and that’s okay too! The ingredients in cuticle and nail oils can help revitalize and hydrate both so that your nails can shine and look healthy once more. With nail and cuticle oils, you’ll be able to see a change in your tips for the better before long.

Nail Polish Strengtheners

Nail polish strengtheners are polishes that contain extra ingredients in them that can improve nail health instead of hurting it! Often, they’ll be infused with extra vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial elements that can get your tips into the best condition they can be.

Since they come in an assortment of colors, you can style your nails and paint them, knowing that the strengthener is improving their condition. For example, the Sally Hansen nail strengtheners come in dozens of color options for you to choose from, so that you can match whichever outfit you have in mind!

Spa Treatment

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can always reserve a trip to the spa that specializes in nail treatments and manicures. Often, they’ll have their own oils that they can massage into your nails and cuticles to strengthen them and repair any damage. However, this option is usually more expensive than purchasing bottles for use at home.

DIY Nail Treatments

Constantly buying nail products can get expensive, but there are some easy ways to prepare your own treatments at home. Take a few extra moments to pick up some supplies on your next grocery visit, and you’ll be prepared for your at-home spa day!

Lemon Juice

This is an easy way to brighten your nails and get rid of any pesky stains. In addition, vitamin C can help with nail growth, so you’ll be bettering them in every sense of the word. You can either squeeze out some juice from lemons onto a cotton pad or just put a slice of lemon on your nails. After applying juice and letting it dry, you’ll want to use a moisturizer so that it won’t dry out your nails.

Coconut Oil

This is another hydrating choice that can help soften the cuticles while increasing nail strength. In addition, it can also ward off nail infections with its anti-fungal properties. You can warm up a bit of coconut oil in the microwave for about 20 seconds before massaging it into your cuticles. The treatment is best done at night, and you can wear some thinner gloves to help keep the oil on your nails.

Honey

This is also a solid choice for aiding nails against bacteria and fungus growth. In addition, its hydrating properties can help keep your nails strong and nourished. You can mix honey with a few drops of lemon juice to get the maximum effects on your nails and leave it in for up to 20 minutes before washing it off.

Nail Vitamins and Nutrients

To keep your nails healthy, you should invest in some vitamins and nutrients to make sure they have everything they need to thrive. Some vitamins are more beneficial for nails than others, but all are necessary for keeping your tips healthy. While you do get all the nutrients from a balanced diet, taking some vitamins can give your nails a boost. Below, we’ll go over the major vitamins that help with nail health so that you know what to look out for in stores.

Biotin

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, can promote cell growth in your nails. In addition, it also increases the efficiency of amino acids that work for nail growth and health. One scientific study has shown that biotin is effective in fixing brittle fingernails when taken on a regular basis.

You can find biotin in egg yolks, dairy, salmon, nuts, and all sorts of other food products. While you probably won’t suffer from a biotin deficiency, taking extra supplements can help improve nail growth and get rid of some of the brittleness. The recommended amount for healthy adults is 30 mcg daily.

Vitamin Bs

Several vitamin Bs, such as B12 and B9, are essential in keeping your nails strong and durable. If you have a deficiency in vitamin B12, you’ll end up with dark blue colored nails and some brown pigmentation. B12 is often found in meat and animal products such as fish, dairy, eggs, and others. The recommended daily amount is 2.4 mcg for vitamin B12.

Vitamin B9 is called folate and helps with developing new cells and red blood cell creation. If you have a B9 deficiency you’ll end up with brittle nails as found in one case study. Folate is in most vegetables, citrus fruits, and beans, with a recommended daily intake of 400 mcg. Getting enough of both vitamin Bs is necessary to keep your nails looking healthy and to get rid of any potential discoloration in your nails.

Iron

Iron is needed in red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. If you end up having an iron deficiency, your nails can end up with vertical ridges and distort the shape. While the recommended daily amount changes depending on your gender and age, women should have about 18 mg a day while men should aim for 8 mg a day.

While it can be found in both plants and animals, your body is better at absorbing the iron found in animals (such as beef, fish, or chicken) when compared to vegetables. In addition, when you eat foods that contain vitamin C along with iron, vitamin C can also help increase the absorption of iron by your bloodstream.

Magnesium

Magnesium is used in the formation of new nails and nail growth. Getting enough magnesium can also help vertical ridges from appearing in your nails, and a lack of magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in the US. It also helps with over 300 other enzymes. It’s commonly found in whole grains and dark green vegetables.

Protein

Nails are made up of a specific protein called keratin, which helps keep the nails strong and rigid. It can also protect them from damage. While the nails we have are made of dead keratin, eating more protein helps increase keratin production which can lead to stronger nails.

The recommended amount per day for protein is about 15 grams. It’s found in more than just animal products; you can get enough protein from soy, lentils, and nuts. The more keratin that you produce, the stronger your nails will become.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which gives structure and strength to many tissues through the body. Collagen is also essential in nail growth and strength, and a deficiency in vitamin C can easily lead to brittle nails. In addition, this is a vitamin that your body won’t naturally produce, so you need to go out of your way to make sure you fulfill the recommended intake.

Citrus fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C, so adding some to your diet would be beneficial for your nails and health. In addition, tomatoes and bell peppers (especially red bell peppers!) also offer an additional source of vitamin C. Women need about 75 mg per day, while men need about 90 mg per day.

Zinc

Zinc helps with cell growth and replication. Without enough zinc in your diet, your nail plate will severely weaken and may have white spots appearing on the surface. The recommended daily amount is around 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Through beef, fish, chicken, or eggs, you can fulfill your needed zinc requirement. Black beans, soy, and some nuts also contain zinc.

Are Supplements Necessary to Strengthen Nails?

The quickest way to improve your nail strength is by having a nutrient-rich diet that contains enough vitamins for you to stay healthy. However, biotin supplements are currently the only vitamin supplement that has scientific evidence showing that they can improve nail health. Outside of biotin supplements, focus on improving your diet first above all else.

When you are looking for the right biotin supplement, you want to make sure that all the details fit your needs. For example, you don’t want the dosage to be too high or low. Low dosages won’t work as well, while higher dosages can actually impede nail growth. Aim for at least 30 mcg of biotin a day, whether that’s solely through your diet or with the help of supplements.

In addition, make sure that you’re comfortable with the form of the supplement. It can come as pills or gummies. While pills can be hard to swallow if you’re uncomfortable with them, gummies often add sugar to your day.

You’ll also want to make sure that all the ingredients contained in biotin supplements are safe for everyday consumption as well. If there are ingredients that you’re unsure about, bring it up with your doctor the next time you visit. You can also always double-check with them before starting just to make sure that it’s safe for use.

Final Thoughts

With all the manicures, acrylics, and gel nails that we love, it’s no wonder that our nail health can get neglected at times. Luckily, there are so many ways to pamper your nails and get them strong once more! Making sure you get all the necessary nutrients from day to day and being extra mindful about your nails are the first steps to strengthening them.

This way, you can indulge in even more manicures and add-ons for your nails. With some new healthy habits to add to your lifestyle, and maybe a product or two, your nails will be stronger and shinier in no time.

About the Author

Xufei Liu

Xufei Liu

Xufei Liu is a writer and skincare enthusiast, always looking for the latest products and techniques. She’s constantly expanding and revising her extensive skincare routine while testing out newer products. She researches techniques and formulations from products over the world, ranging from high end American brands to K-beauty. In her spare time, Xufei enjoys playing with her Rubik's cube collection and reading.

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