Every day, your fingernails put in hard labor – tapping on desktops, opening envelops, digging in the garden, or scratching off the peel on instant win lottery cards. Fingernails are incredibly strong and can usually withstand all the abuse we give them. After about age thirty, however, people’s nails get weaker and more brittle. This can cause them to break or splinter, or simply look a little more ragged than they used to.
You can’t prevent brittle nails entirely, but there are ways to make them a little stronger. Here’s how.
Put some vegetables and beans on your plate. Lentils and peanuts, along with cauliflower, are rich sources of biotin, a vitamin B that has been shown to strengthen and thicken nails. But you need quite a bit of biotin – more than you can get from foods alone – to get the benefits. So when you’re eating for nail strength, you may also want to supplement your diet with a multivitamin.
Add some fish to the menu. Salmon, mackerel, and other cold – water fish contain fatty acids, which the body uses to strengthen the nails. Eating fish several times a week will help keep your nails worry-free.
Keep them moist. Your fingernails naturally get hard and brittle whenever then dry out. To keep them moist doctors recommend rubbing moisturizer around the nails once or twice a day. A little bit of petroleum jelly will also help keep the nails flexible and strong.
Don’t let them soak. Your fingernails can absorb tremendous amounts of water. These sounds like it would be helpful for brittle nails, but it’s actually just the reverse. Your nails expand when they absorb water, then contract when then dry. The more this cycle is repeated, the weaker the nails become. So it’s worth keeping them dry whenever you can.
Enjoy a little elegance. Even if don’t go for rainbow colors, it’s worth applying a little nail polish to strengthen nails and help them retain their natural moisture.
Avoid harsh chemicals . The problem with using fingernail polish is that you’ll also be using fingernail polish remover, which usually contains acetone. Acetone quickly removes moisture from the nails. Whenever possible, use fingernail polish removers that do not contain acetone.
Treat them with respect. Fingernails are tough, but you didn’t purchase them in a hardware store, so you shouldn’t expect them to do double-duty as tools. Scissors, screwdrivers, staple removers, and tweezers were all invented for a reason. Use them, and give your fingernails as a break. The less you use (and abuse) your nails,, the stronger they are likely to be.
Cover them up . One of the best ways to protect brittle nails is to wear gloves whenever you’re putting your hands to work in rough environments – in a sink full of hot, soapy water, for example, or in a mound of garden soils.
Keep them trimmed . Long nails are more fragile and break more easily than short ones. This is one reason to keep your nails short. To make the job easier, soak your hands in water for a few minutes first. Or trim your nails right after you’ve had a relaxing shower or bath.