If you’ve recently had gels or acrylics removed, you may be asking how to strengthen your nails. I completely understand: after removing my beloved gel tips, I was astounded at how thin and brittle my nails had become below, as well as frightened at how easily they broke.
Don’t worry if you’re in a similar situation. Your nails can be repaired. In fact, I’m happy to say that, thanks to certain lifestyle modifications and a focus on my nails’ health, they’ve practically been returned to their former splendour. It just requires time and care. And, sure, it is doable by everyone.
It’s just as important to take care of the nail and cuticle as it is to deep-condition and cure dry, overprocessed hair, Dana Stern, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who specialises in nail health, tells Glamour. When your nails need a break, take a vacation from enhancements, and maintain your nails short: Shorter nails are less likely to break and snag.
What exactly causes weak nails in the first place? There are two types of nail damage, according to Dr. Stern. The first group includes difficult-to-control elements such as heredity, ageing, and certain medical disorders, she continues, and hence part of this harm is simply unavoidable. However, environmental variables are the second and most prevalent group, which means they are easier to regulate and can have a major influence on the problem once corrected.
Looking for methods to pamper your nails? Continue reading for additional information on how to strengthen nails, as well as what to avoid and what to include in your routine to encourage and maintain their strength.
Wear gloves when working with water
When you think about nails as you would hair, it’s similar to having a much-needed trim when your hair is damaged. Hair and nails both react negatively to comparable environmental variables, such as too much water, especially hot water.
“Nails absorb water exceptionally well, even better than skin!” Dr. Stern claims “When the nail absorbs water, the nail cells, or onychocytes, are put under enormous strain, which can result in peeling, breaking, and weakening.” She recommends wearing gloves when doing physical labour, washing dishes, or working with water.
Use glass nail files
While standard cardboard emery boards are the file of choice owing to their low cost and speed of operation, they are not the ideal choice for nail health.
“Microscopic holes and breaks at the tip of the nail cause peeling, onychoschizia, and cracking,” Dr. Stern adds. “I prefer glass or crystal nail files over cardboard emery boards since they don’t leave microscopic gaps or rips in the nail and instead create a crisp edge.
Opt for non-acetone polish remover
While allowing your nails to air is important for their health, how you remove your lacquer is as important.
“In terms of chemical exposures, polish remover is a huge one: Acetone tends to be extremely drying to the nail and can make brittle nails worse,” Dr. Stern tells Glamour, adding that it’s best to look for conditioning formulations that contain soy and/or have extra moisturising benefits from oils.
Avoid nail products with formaldehyde
If traditional nail-strengthening products sound too good to be true, it’s because many of them are. “Many so-called nail strengtheners still include formaldehyde or formalin, which are extremely harmful to the nail,” explains Dr. Stern. “Initially, formaldehyde hardens the nail; but, over time, the nail becomes paradoxically fragile and is at danger of lifting or splitting from the nail bed.” She says that formaldehyde can induce serious allergic responses at the surrounding nail folds, causing the skin to become highly inflamed, swollen, and painful.
Translation? When shopping for nail products, look for those that are free of formaldehyde.
Moisturise with sunflower oil
Dr. Stern recommends moisturising your cuticles and nails, but only with solutions created with clinically established components. “When looking for a nail and cuticle moisturiser, seek for products high in phospholipids, which have been proved to promote nail flexibility, thereby combating brittleness,” she advises. “Massage [the cream] into your cuticles many times each day, and after each wash if you do a lot of handwashing.”
Phospholipids can be found in goods including sunflower oil and Brazil nut oil: Both oils, according to Dr. Stern, are particularly high in phospholipids.
Treat nails with glycolic acid
Finally, look for nail treatments that contain glycolic acid. Dr. Stern tells Glamour, Glycolic acid has been found to be a component that rejuvenates weak nails. The administration of this alpha-hydroxy acid resulted in regulated keratolysis of the nail plate in our investigation. Glycolic acid dissolves disulfide bonds in nail keratin, resulting in improved nail hydration. Furthermore, glycolic acid is a humectant, which means it aids in the retention of moisture in the nails.
Glycolic acid is also beneficial since it gives each nail a little peel. This method is relevant to the nail in the same way that we conduct peels for the skin to remove the surface layers of dead cells,” Stern explains. By eliminating the damaged layers of superficial onychocytes, you may allow the chemicals that serve to moisturise and fortify the nail to be absorbed. As a result, a nail peel can be performed either in a dermatologist’s clinic or at home.