Wonder why you bother putting on polish because your nails will break or peel within a day anyway? Yep, me too. There are lots of treatments and tonics you can use to strengthen them up, but here are 13 natural ways to make your nails stronger and less prone to annoying splitting, breaking and peeling:
1. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Protein
Upping your protein intake will help keep your nails (and muscles) strong and in tip-top shape. So how much do you really need? Somewhere between 45 to 56 grams per day for an adult. Here’s a guide to which foods contain the most protein.
2. Biotin Supplements
Keratin is a protein that makes up your skin, hair and nails, and biotin (a B vitamin) can help support your keratin levels. You do have to commit to it for a while to see results, but it’s worth it!
3. Add good fats + calcium
If your nails are splitting it could be because of calcium deficiency. Add calcium rich foods to your diet or try a supplement. Adding more essential fatty acids can also help brittle nails. Take 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil a day (it’s easy to add to your daily smoothie).
4. File Your nails in one direction
Rather than filing back and forth, which can cause your nails to split and peel (and we all know how fun that is), file in one direction to keep them intact and less prone to breakage.
5. Use Gloves When Cleaning
Exposure to water and cleaning solutions (especially if you use harsher ones—which you shouldn’t!) can wear down your nails and cause them to become weak. Use gloves when washing dishes and cleaning. Better yet, have the kids pitch in!
6. Limit Water Exposure
Drinking water = good. Water on hands = drying for your nails and cuticles. It sounds backwards, but especially if your skin is already dry, exposing it to water will dry it out even more. If you’re soaking in a soothing detox bath, keep your hands out of the tub to minimize water exposure, which will cause nails to dry out and weaken once they’re out of the water.
7. Moisturize – a lot!
After you wash your hands, make sure to lather up with a hand lotion or cuticle balm to keep moisture from escaping. Use olive oil for a simple cuticle oil or soak hands in oil for 10 minutes to heal dry nails and cuticles. Also refrain from using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, as those can be a nightmare on your hands. Try a gentler DIY version instead!
8. Avoid industrial-strength polish remover
Heavy-duty nail polish removers, especially those that contain acetone, dry out your nails, cuticles and fingertips, leaving them susceptible to breakage and peeling. Try The Body Shop’s Sweet Almond Oil version, or a protein-enhanced non-acetone remover.
9. Up your zinc intake
White spots in your nails can be a sign that your deficient in zinc. Up your intake of nuts, root vegetables and shellfish to get more of the mineral.
10. Try tea tree
Apply 1-2 drops tea tree oil daily to fight nail infections. You can also apply anti fungal powder to absorb moisture and fight fungus.
11. Don’t cut your cuticles
If you’re giving yourself a manicure at home, gently massage oil into your cuticles and then use a q-tip to push them back. Cutting the cuticle allows fungus and bacteria to enter the nail bed, making it easier for infections to occur.
12. DIY a whitening scrub
If your nails are yellow or discolored make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Massage nail beds with the mixture and let it sit for a couple of minutes then rinse off.
13. Let Your Nails Breathe
Just like it’s a good idea to take a break from coloring your hair or wearing makeup, giving your nails a breather from polish can help them regain their strength. Nails replace themselves after six months, so the longer you can go without polish, the better.