Brittle, fragile, peeling, weak nails: sound familiar? Here are five definitive tips for strong, beautiful, healthy nails that you’ll love to show off.
If we were to name one part of the body that we use (and abuse) most during the day, it would definitely be our hands – and this affects our nails. Day-to-day actions such as using the computer, temperature changes, bad eating habits, hormonal alterations, and many cuticle and nail treatments may have a negative impact on your precious nails.
Defined by weakness of the nail plate or loss of consistency that results in peeling and breakage, brittle nails affect 27% of women, according to a Dermatology Journal study. Apart from looking aesthetically unpleasant, they can be painful and very often affect self-perception. Some of the most frequent causes are aggressive manicures and filing, traumas or in some cases, diseases affecting the nails.
Our consumer surveys on nail care showed us that brittle nails are a very common problem: of the 500 people we surveyed, having pretty, painted nails wasn’t the goal. 72% of respondents responded ‘strong’ when asked what their ideal nails would look like.
Why do we have brittle nails?
Genetics may play a role in brittle nails, but there are other factors that can contribute to the overall health of your nail:
• Not receiving proper manicures
• Excessive buffing
• Cuticle manipulation, like pitting of the nail (when small depressions appear on the surface) or too much removal of the cuticle skin
• Harsh temperature environments such as washing the dishes
We talked to Elle (@enamelle), celebrity manicurist and nail stylist with 25 years of experience, and asked her to share her best insider tips to help you strengthen your weak, brittle nails in no time.
Tips for strong, beautiful nails
1. Be mindful about the exposure time to your acetone polish remover
If you are using an acetone nail polish remover, avoid long soaks in acetone and remove polish with a cotton pad instead. Acetone can be harsh and dehydrating on nails, causing them to be more fragile in the long run.
Expert tip: you can also add oil to your polish remover if you have very dry skin and apply a nail strengthener after your nails are clean and dry.
2. Pick a soft nail file and work on your technique
Hard nail files certainly look more appealing and are easier to clean but they are aggressive to the nails, so you should pick a soft nail file instead.
Expert tip: avoid back-and-forth movements as much as possible to prevent nails from peeling and always file in one direction. Once you master the movement, try starting from the outside edge and moving to the center.
3. Choose a product that strengthens and hydrates your entire nail structure
Just like your hair and your skin, nails grow better when they’re healthy and strong, so you have to put the work in to care for them. Keep your nails hydrated and smooth with a product that conditions both the nail itself and the surrounding structure.
The ideal nail strengthening product will contain ingredients that are naturally present in your nails or help boost the performance of existing components. Make sure the one you choose promotes keratin and silicon, and intensely moisturizes your nail, along with the cuticle to help achieve more flexible, healthier nails.
Expert tip: use ISDIN Si-Nails, an innovative nail pen to hydrate and strengthen, with a simple, accurate and easy-to-use click format for beautiful, healthy nails in as little as two weeks. Not to mention - its perfectly portable size lets you repair your nails any time, anywhere!
4. Learn when to take a break from nail polish
There’s no such thing as bad nail polish, but there is such a thing as a bad manicure. Elle tells us to think of it this way:
“If you have a wall in your house which is flaking, damaged, and dry, you’re not going to paint the wall as it will peel and get destroyed. Your nails are like the wall – if you work on bare nails, which are hydrated and smooth, then your polish and your nail will look perfect.”
Create healthy, strong, beautiful nails by learning to work with your natural base before you get creative. Once your nails are healthy-looking and strong, you can start thinking about polish again.
Read more: when to take a break from polish
5. If you wear polish, don’t forget to keep caring for your nails
If you’re a regular polish-wearer, you still need to maintain flexibility and strength, using a product which you can apply over the whole nail. This will work to protect the area around and underneath the nail, keeping the structure healthy.
Expert tip: Elle recommends carrying around an easy-to-use nail treatment such as Si-Nails to use alongside polish and help maintain optimal nail health.
Shop it: ISDIN Si-Nails ($29.95)
Lubach D, Cohrs W, Wurzinger R, Incidence of brittle nails, Dermatologica, 1986; 172(3):144-7