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Let’s face it … there isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t go gaga over a manicure and pedicure date. But when nails start to go limp, bend, and become so brittle that they rip and peel, it’s time to unleash some serious nail care.

Skip the expensive nail salon solutions and opt for these low-cost, effective ways to get stronger nails for beautiful looking hands.

1. A healthy, balanced diet

Don’t scoff, because your mother was right. You must eat your vegetables. The food you eat is one of the best nail strengtheners out there! Most people do not eat the recommended daily amount of raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, leaving them deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients needed for healthy nails. Some of the best foods for building (and keeping) strong nails include green peas, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, beans, eggs, salmon, and oatmeal. And don’t forget water! Every cell, including in your cuticles and nails, needs enough water all day long to stay hydrated.

Stronger Nails | Beverly Hills MD

2. Coconut oil

Plush nail spas know that coconut oil is a manicure must-have. Although we don’t condone it for using on your face, coconut oil contains a wide range of nutrients, and is one of the most potent sources of saturated fats on Earth. Comprised of nearly 90 percent fatty acids, including a rare fatty acid known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil is able to deeply penetrate nail beds and cuticles, delivering these nutrients directly into brittle nails. This restores smoothness and strength to nails with ridges or peeling nails. Other nutrients provided by coconut oil include Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B, and iron.1

Coconut oil is also a naturally antibacterial and antifungal substance, making it ideal for nail care. Simply apply to cuticle and nails before going to bed each night.

3. DIY nail mask

One of the most common reasons for dry, brittle nails is nutrient deficiency. There are many different DIY (do-it-yourself) nail masks that you can make to replenish essential nutrients like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your nails need to grow long and strong. Try this simple recipe for a DIY strengthening nail mask: Mix together one egg white and one teaspoon of whole milk. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, apply it to weak nails, covering the nail beds and cuticles. Let it stand for up to 15 minutes. Apply this mask 3-5 times a week for stronger nails.

4. Essential oilsStronger Nails | Beverly Hills MD

These oils contain what are known as “plant essences,” meaning that they provide all of the active chemical compounds of medicinal plants – without any pesky leaves or stems. The most effective essential oils for strengthening dry, brittle nails include lavender, lemon, frankincense, and myrrh.

Note: Essential oils are powerful, potent brittle nails treatment substances. Always blend any essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. This dilutes the plant essences before you apply the oil to weak nails and cuticles.

5. Dietary supplements

There is a lot of hype out there about which dietary supplements actually work as a nails treatment, but the only one with any clinical evidence of efficacy is biotin (a B complex vitamin). Research shows that biotin supplementation was able to thicken brittle nails up to 25 percent!2

3 Worst Ways to Damage Healthy Nails

Finger and toenails are made up of a strong protein compound called keratin. Without enough of this substance, nails can become brittle.

Aim to avoid these 3 WORST enemies of strong nails (that break down keratin):

1. Acetone nail-polish removers

They strip nails of natural moisture, leaving them brittle and more likely to peel.

2. Hot water

This is fast way to dehydrate healthy nails, and leave them dull and breakable. Hot water eliminates nail elasticity, so skip the hot soak and opt for tepid temperatures instead.

3. Cleaning productsStronger Nails | Beverly Hills MD

This can include your dish soap, hand soap, and alcohol-based sanitizer. Use gloves whenever possible to limit exposure to toxins that destroy healthy nails.

Brittle fingernails can be irritating, not to mention embarrassing. Get your hands back to beautiful and strengthen nails with these five brittle nails treatments.

4. Picking

One thing that will take your nails from fabulous to flaking (and fast) is picking at your polish. Even gel manicures are no match for nail pickers, so leave well enough alone to avoid damaging your healthy nails.

5. Biting

Nail biters back off! If you are a biter, you probably already know that you need to stop. Try to nails clipped short, to avoid temptation – and keep a hardening top coat close by so you can keep healthy nails growing strong.

Want more tips on how to have youthful looking nails and hands? Keep reading:

Gel vs. Manicures – Which is Right for You?
How to Treat Spoon Nails
Anti-Aging Tips for Youthful-Looking Hands

Sources:

1. “Vegetable Oil, Coconut Nutrition Facts & Calories”. Nutritiondata.self.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

2. Hochman LG, Scher RK. Brittle nails: response to daily biotin supplementation. Cutis. 1993 Apr;51(4):303-5.