Long, strong, healthy nails are possible if you follow the few tips to keep them healthy. Nails like the hair need to be cared for. To help set the record straight and get you on the road to beautiful nails here are some tips to help you grow a long and healthy nails.
1. Use nail hardeners sparingly — or not at all.
“The take-home message here is that a lot of them do more damage than good,” says Stern. She reminds us that these products are not studied clinically, so most claims are not backed up by science. Unless nails are exceptionally weak and fragile, she says, most people don’t benefit from a nail hardener.
2. Moisturize the nail bed and the cuticle.
While there is little in the way of medical data showing that moisturizing the nail bed will help nails grow, it can make cuticles look better and help protect nails from breaking due to a lack of moisture. “If your nails are prone to breakage, it could mean they need moisture — and putting oil around the cuticle helps moisturize the entire nail, which will reduce the incidence of chipping, cracking, and splitting.
3. Take biotin supplements.
In several studies, researchers found that
supplements of biotin (a member of the vitamin B family) increased nail thickness and prevented splitting and breaking. In a respected German study that evaluated 45 people with severe nail problems , 2.5 milligrams of biotin daily for several months benefited everyone — with 91% of the 45 citing significant improvement. NYU dermatologist Sumayah Jamal, MD, says to get the effect, it’s vital that you take the prescription strength, therapeutic level of 2.5 milligrams daily.
4. Avoid rough emery boards.
Those old-fashioned orange emery boards are too harsh for nails, causing small fissures and cracks that lead to breakage and tears, says Ravits. Instead, she says, file nails with a smooth, fine file and don’t saw back and forth. Instead, Ravits says, file in one direction only, and do it slowly and evenly to reduce risk of breakage.
5. Limit professional manicures.
While it’s hard to beat the pampering luxury of a
pedicure or manicure, a study just completed by Stern and colleagues at Mt. Sinai showed those who indulged regularly were the most likely to suffer from dry, brittle nails. The doctors theorize that exposure to more chemicals and harsher ingredients may be one reason. Jamal adds that women who get
manicures frequently suffer from chronic nail bed infections, evidenced by puffy, reddened areas around the base of the nail. “When you look at your finger sideways the area around your nail bed should be flat. If it’s puffy, that’s evidence of a chronic infection.
6. Don’t overdo hand washing and limit contact with cleaning chemicals.
As healthy as it can be to wash your hands frequently, overdo it and you’ll wreak havoc with your nails, says Stern. If you are in a profession where frequent hand washing is mandatory, she advises to use moisturizer as often as possible and rub a little extra around the cuticles several times a day.
7. Watch your nails for signs of health problems.
Most of the time, nail problems can be traced to environmental assaults — exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals, use of drying nail products, or just general physical abuse, such as typing or excessive use of fingertips.