Experiencing nails that are fragile, thin, uneven, or that peel easily? I reached out to two experts, Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, and Rebecca Jayne, owner of A Nail Affair salon in Red Hook, New York, to get their advice on how to strengthen nails, and how to avoid brittle nails in the first place. Read on for some key insights from these two experts, plus eight essential tips for keeping your nails healthy and strong.
“Brittle nails are often caused by environmental trauma,” explains Dr. Birnbaum. “This can include exposure to chemicals, manicures, and repetitive [actions] like typing or texting.” Some medical conditions may also cause brittle nails, including thyroid disease, anemia, and atherosclerosis. Jayne adds that for people who get (or do their own) manicures, using certain tools, like an electric nail file, can damage your nails by removing layers of your nail bed. Excessive, too-harsh buffing can also weaken nails.
What isn’t to blame? Most likely, what you’re eating. “Typically diet does not heavily impact our nails, and contrary to popular belief, calcium content in nails does not contribute to hardness of the nails,” Dr. Birnbaum explains. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies rarely cause brittle nails, because only “very small amounts are needed for optimal function of nails.” That said, the doctor adds that she — obviously — does recommend following a nutrient-rich diet to support overall health.
Now that you’re armed with the basics, scroll on to find out how to strengthen your nails in eight simple steps.
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4. Apply A Nail Strengthener
Treat dry, peeling nails with a nail strengthener, but “stay away from the ones with formaldehyde in them,” advises Jayne.
The ella+mila Nail Strengthener helps keep nails strong and healthy with a vitamin E-rich formula that’s free of formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals. The brand is also vegan and cruelty-free, and as another bonus: The elephant on the bottle is super cute. “I don’t know what’s in it but it works better than anything else I’ve tried to help my peeling weak nails,” commented one reviewer.
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