No one likes a broken nail. You’ve worked so hard on growing them out to be nice and long and beautifully trimmed, and then one wrong move of your finger will ruin it and leave your nails uneven and unsightly. It happens to everyone, unfortunately, and while it’s not entirely preventable, there are ways to strengthen your nails and make them less prone to breaking on you.
So what are these secrets? Well, I’ll give you a rundown, but a few of these might just surprise you.
Possible Underlying Issues
First and foremost, we should rule out some underlying issues. Some nails are more brittle due to conditions you may or may not be aware of, so you might want to take any of these underlying issues into consideration when looking to strengthen your nails.
Causes of weak nails can be some of the following:
- Fungal infection
- Nail psoriasis
- Deficiency in Vitamins A, B, C, and D.
- Repeated exposure to very hot/very cold temperatures
- Health conditions such as anemia, Raynaud’s Syndrome, or low thyroid levels.
While you can still strengthen your nails through the means we’ll discuss nonetheless, these are just common explanations for why your nails may seem weaker than usual.
Keep Your Nails From Too Much Water
Yup, your eyes are not deceiving you. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you spend a lot of time in water, such as in a pool, your nails grow softer and weaker. Well, too much water can affect your nails even when they’re dry again.
See, your nails actually absorb around 1,000 times more water than your skin, causing your cells to expand and then contract once they’re dry. This repeated cycle of expanding and contracting can weaken your nails significantly. Now, I’m not telling you to avoid water altogether, and washing your hands every day won’t do anything to destroy your nails. Just don’t always have them soaking or overly-moisturized.
Moisturize Your Cuticles
Now I know we just talked about not overly-moisturizing your nails, hear me out. You need to moisturize those cuticles like your life depends on it — or, well, like your nails depend on it. This is similar to how the condition of your scalp affects the health of your hair. Healthy cuticles equal healthy nails in the long run.
You see, the skin of the cuticle protects the nail matrix where nail growth begins. If the skin becomes too dry, dehydrating chemicals and allergens can penetrate and damage that vulnerable matrix.
Ergo, you should make sure your cuticles are nice and moisturized. There are several products you can use, like a cuticle cream. Try to look for something with glycerin or hyaluronic acid, both of which attract moisture, along with occlusive products to help lock moisture in, such as shea butter or petrolatum.
Swap to a Glass Nail File
This is a relatively simple, yet highly effective swap. If you’ve never used a glass file, you may be wondering what the difference is.
Well, a regular coarse nail file will cause tiny tears in your nails, as leaving the tip of the nail rougher and more likely to snag on things, which lead to breaks. Not to mention, it just doesn’t feel good on your fingers in general.
Glass files not only make a smoother edge, but also just feel better on your fingers. No more feeling as though you’re yanking your nail from side to side. This is very helpful to those who have weak nails from the get go. Not to mention, they’re cheap and long-lasting. This swap might just be the thing to save yourself from some unnecessary broken nails right a quick grooming.
Grab an Acetone-free Polish Remover
So it may not be a surprise to you that something as strong as nail polish remover may just be able to take a few bits off of the nails themselves.
Polish remover is always made with some type of solvent, the ingredients of which are always dehydrating. Acetone is just about the worst of them all, however.
Nail cells are flat and overlap, like shingles on a roof. That’s what allows them to bend in such a way over the tip of your finger. When they dehydrate, the cells can pretty much peel away, causing the nail to be thin and weak.
Because of this, you should grab a non-acetone polish remover. They may not be as powerful in getting out all the color, but you can rectify that by adding a clear base coat to your nails before you paint them. It makes the removal process a lot easier since polish can stain the nail itself. You don’t want to break out the acetone polish remover for that one.
Acetone-free removers are relatively easy to find, as they advertise their lack of acetone on the front of their bottles.
Have Breaks Between Long-lasting Manicures
When you have a beautiful, durable manicure that leaves your hands stunning for weeks, it’s absolutely a good feeling. However, it also harms your nails. Allow me to explain why.
Sure, when you do a manicure, it definitely makes your nails feel stronger, but that’s only superficial and very temporary. If anything, it’s actually harming nail growth. When you add so many heavy layers of polish on your nails, it adds pressure to the nail matrix I mentioned earlier. This pressure will cause your nails to grow thinner.
Yes, long-lasting manicures aren’t the best, but they’re not the main problem. The biggest issue is the removal process, which can be particularly harsh on the nails. The constant scraping and use of nail polish remover (especially if it has acetone) just weakens the nails.
You’re absolutely free to continue having your manicures, of course, but you might want to consider taking breaks in between. Take a good week or two off every one to three months and you should be able to avoid damage. That is, if you can manage going that long without a manicure.