How to improve nail health: eight expert tips for nail care

Ever found yourself caught in a vicious cycle of hiding weak and flimsy nails under acrylics or gel manicures? While it might be tempting, consider building back your nail strength before resorting to camouflage. Strong, healthy nails are often an indicator of good health, so it’s worth investing time into taking care of them. Reviving your nail health doesn’t need to cost a fortune and can be done in the comfort of your own home. 

So what are the best ways to strengthen your nails? 

Fingernails grow about three and a half millimetres each month, which is the average for healthy adults. An imbalanced diet can affect your nail growth rate, which is why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition. Eating foods that are high in protein and calcium can really boost nail growth and strength. Foods rich in biotin, like nuts, egg yolks and sweet potatoes can also be helpful in improving brittle nails. It sounds simple, but it really makes a difference.

Biotin is a B vitamin that helps convert food into energy. As it’s water-soluble, you need to consume it regularly to keep levels healthy.

Some studies suggest that weak and brittle nails are tell-tale signs of a biotin deficiency. Although biotin rich foods can help, if you want to give your nails even more of a boost, consider introducing a supplement into your daily routine. Biotin supplements can be found at most health stores like Holland and Barrett or pharmacies like Boots.

To make sure it’s safe for you, always check with your doctor before taking any supplement. 

Nail health

When it comes to cuticles, it’s super important to carefully cut them at the base, you never want to pull on the cuticle. If you pull on your cuticles you could cause a wound which opens the door to infection. 

If you want to give your cuticles that extra bit of TLC, we highly recommend a regular manicure. Urban’s luxury manicure is perfect for improving nail health and takes place in the comfort of your own home. Expect your nails to be perfectly trimmed, filed and moisturised with professional products. It’s a true pampering session and if they could, your nails would definitely thank you for it!

There are so many health benefits to drinking plenty of water, and you guessed it, healthier nails is one of them. Nails need plenty of moisture to stay strong. Without enough hydration, nails become brittle and break more easily. Eatwell says we should drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. If you struggle to reach this, think about buying a cooling water bottle to make hydrating more appealing, or a bottle which motivates you along the way.

It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but also look at minimising your alcohol and refined sugars intake as this can also affect nail growth.

Hand washing up glass.

While it’s important to make sure you stay hydrated, try and limit your nails’ exposure to water. When nails are left to soak in water for long periods, it actually dehydrates the skin and sucks moisture out of your nails. 

We know it’s difficult to completely avoid water, but there are steps you can take to minimise your nails’ exposure to it. Things like wearing rubber gloves when you are washing up or using cleaning products will help to limit any nail breaks. We love Eco Living’s alternative to regular rubber gloves. They’re plastic-free and vegan making them reusable, biodegradable and compostable – so you can wash up knowing you’re doing your bit for the planet and your nail health. If you’re really committed to avoiding water, you could even try to keep your hands out of the bath when having a long soak. Reading a book in the bath is always a great way to avoid over soaking your nails. 

There may be times when you can’t avoid water, like if you’re an avid swimmer. If you are a regular pool goer, just be sure to moisturise your hands and nails post-swim to combat any nail dehydration.

While having freshly painted nails looks great, it’s important to occasionally go polish free to give your nails a chance to breathe. Constant use of polish can cause your nails to become fragile, so there’s no shame in ditching the polish from time to time. 

If you’re a manicure fiend and the thought of going polish free sends a shiver up your spine, treat yourself to an Urban polish-free manicure and pedicure. You get all the benefits of a usual mani pedi (file, shape, cuticle work, hard skin removal and a massage), just minus the polish. This will help to boost the health of your nails and provide you with some well earned self care time too!

Hand being moisturised to improve nail health

Hand lotion shouldn’t just exclusively be used to moisturise your hands. Be sure to use moisturiser on your nails and surrounding skin too. This will help to keep your nails from becoming brittle, as moisturiser helps to protect the nail plate from any water which can cause damage. 

Another handy tip is to use castor oil to improve nail health as it stimulates nail growth and increases nail shine. Castor oil is rich in essential fatty acids, meaning it’s extremely moisturising and easily absorbed into the skin. It’s also full of vitamin e, which helps to support nail health by preventing cracked cuticles and dry skin. Try and get into the habit of massaging a few drops onto your nails and cuticles every night. 

When it’s time to remove your nail polish, don’t be tempted to use any old bottle of nail polish remover. A nail polish remover with high levels of acetone (the harsh solvent used to remove polish quickly) can cause nails to dry out and become fragile causing them to flake, split and even break. 

Try to go acetone-free when selecting your nail varnish remover. Although they’re more gentle, they still do the job and leave your nails in a much better state. Big nail brands like OPI produce their own acetone-free nail varnish removers, but if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, try a high street pharmacy like Superdrug.


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