In today’s article I’m going to be sharing with you 10 tips for brittle nails.
How to keep your nails looking healthy, shiny and strong.
Our hands and nails are constantly exposed to a lot of environmental stressors that suck moisture right out and that can lead to brittle nails as well as nail breakage and ridging.
Table of Contents
How to Make Nails Less Brittle
My number one tip is to make sure that you moisturize your hands consistently throughout the day as well as your nails. This will help keep them hydrated, healthy and reduce nail breakage.
As we wash our hands, a lot of moisture gets sucked right out of the nail plate and can lead to dryness and brittleness.
Ideally the moisturizer that you use should have sunscreen in it for daytime use. This will protect not only the skin of your hands, but also your nails.
Ultraviolet radiation generates free radicals that damage the skin and the skin around our nails, leaving them vulnerable.
2. Keep Them Short
Make sure you keep your nails cut short. Shorter nails are less prone to breakage. There’s less surface area for them to get caught up on things and tear and peel.
The greater the surface area of your nail plate, the more exposure it’s going to have to water and chemicals that you come in contact throughout the day. That can further dry out the nail plate and lead to breakage and brittleness.
So keep your nails cut short.
3. Eat Well
Make sure that you eat a well-balanced diet and don’t go on any up and down crash diets. This can really impact the health of your nail plate and set you up for brittle nails.
Vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies or insufficiencies can lead to brittle nails. Also make sure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet. That is the building block of nails – protein.
Make sure that you’re eating biotin rich foods. Biotin is another component that in our diet that’s really important for nail health. You can get this from things like vegetables, eggs.
So make sure that you’re eating a well-balanced diet.
Unfortunately the perfect diet does not exist. I cannot recommend the best diet out there and truthfully, we all experience gaps from day to day and getting our daily nutritional needs.
Whether you’re just a super busy professional on the go and sometimes you don’t always make the best food choices and you really struggle to meet your daily nutritional needs.
A lot of people fill these gaps in with a multivitamin.
This tip has to do with filing your nails.
Filing your nails can be your nails friend or foe, depending on what you are doing and what you are using.
You want to choose a soft nail file that has a fine grain. If you choose a really thick coarse grained nail file it actually can end up creating micro tears in the nail plate that make you more likely to develop those pesky hangnails.
What’s good about filing the nails, however, is that it creates a smooth surface that makes the nail have fewer angles to get caught up on things and ultimately lead to nail breakage.
When you file your nails, however, make sure that you file in just one direction, that you don’t go back and forth. This back and forth saw motion can actually make your nails more brittle and it can create nail ridging. Just by that mechanical trauma that gets translated back to the cuticle area and the nail matrix.
Just go in one direction and choose a soft nail file. That actually can help the health of your nail plates down the road. Just by smoothing out the surface of any rough edges.
5. Don’t Cut Cuticles
When you manicure your nails or have them manicured, do not cut the cuticle. The cuticle is that little flop of skin that seals the nail, right where the nail meets meets the skin.
That little flop of skin actually is like a little watertight seal that prevents water and bacteria and germs from getting into the part of the nail that actually grows the nail, the nail matrix.
If you cut the cuticle, it will no longer lie flat and comes dry and brittle and it just doesn’t it doesn’t lie down flat or properly. And then water can get up into the nail and dehydrate the nail actually, because even though it sounds counter-intuitive, whenever you have water either on the skin or on the nail, it actually can lead to more water loss. That ultimately can dry out the nail.
Plus your nails become more vulnerable to bacteria. The nail matrix, because it’s more exposed, isn’t able to perform as well and you get ridging and things like that.
So don’t cut your cuticles. It’s okay to push them back gently but don’t be really aggressive because you can accidentally tear the cuticle and that it’s not going to lie down properly and that ultimately will impact the health of your nails and lead to brittle nails.
6. Avoid Acetone
Try and minimize or avoid acetone nail polish removers. Acetone is super drying on the nail plate and that will suck water out of the nail and lead to brittle nails.
Instead use an acetone-free nail polish remover.
Acetone in nail polish removers also causes peeling and that peeling ultimately will impact the health of the nail plate.
So try and choose an acetone-free nail polish remover.
7. Minimize Water Exposure
Be really mindful of how much water you are exposing the nail to.
Of course we have to wash our hands, you can’t avoid that, but every time you get your nails wet, the water can evaporate, it’s going to evaporate off the surface of the nails and further dry them out.
So anytime you have to get the nails wet, make sure that you apply a moisturizer on afterwards to help reduce that water loss.
Be very mindful of unnecessary water exposure. If you’re someone who likes to take baths, make sure that you’re not putting your hand in the water and keeping it submerged in water that entire time. That’s unnecessary water exposure for your nail.
Also if you wash dishes by hand make sure you wear gloves. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you wash dishes by hand or do any kind of wet work, make sure you wear gloves because the prolonged contact with water plus detergent in dishwashing liquids really is going to dry out your nail plates and lead to brittle nails.
And of course it wreaks havoc on your hands.
So wear gloves to minimize exposure to water and those detergents that will help your nail plate quite a bit.
8. Less Gel & Acrylic Manicures
Cut back on the acrylic or gel nail polishes. They sound appealing because they make it seem as though they strengthen the nail.
But in reality, they actually cause nail peeling and ultimately leads to more water loss out of the nail plate and brittle dry nails.
Not to mention, in order to remove them, you have to often soak your nails in acetone for a long time. That’s further going to dry out the nail plate.
I’m not saying never use gel and acrylic nails, but make sure that you give yourself a break, like take a month off of them.
9. Take a Polish Break
If you just paint your nails, you don’t do the gel or acrylics, definitely take a break from the nail polish too. That also can affect the hydration levels of your nail plate and lead to brittle, dry nails.
You don’t want to constantly have nail polish on. Not only that, nail polish, if you wear it all the time, ultimately can stain your nails too.
So take a break from nail polish. Maybe give yourself a month break.
10. See a Doctor
Final tip is if you’ve got brittle nails that you’ve been dealing with for a while, you’ve tried all these things, you’ve given it time, that’s the key – the nails take a long time to grow, they grow very slowly, and you still are suffering with brittle nails, see your doctor.
While brittle nails are most often due to environmental exposures, like washing dishes by hand or just age related change, there are certain medical conditions that can cause brittle nails.
Low thyroid, iron deficiency, anemia, a circulatory condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, can actually impact the health of your nails.
Those are my 10 tips for brittle nails and how to keep your nails looking healthy and shiny.
Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.