When it comes to your nails, you want 2 things.
Long and strong.
If you’re looking for the best way to improve the length and strength of your nails.
Then look no further.
Here’s what you need to know to get long, strong, beautiful nails.
If you want to grow your nails quickly, don’t bite them or use them as tools. Stop using gel nails and acrylics as removal damages the nail making it less likely to grow. Take a biotin supplement or eat biotin-rich foods like bananas and salmon. You could also increase your vitamin A, Vitamin C and folic acid intake through foods or supplements. Filing your nails correctly and practicing good cuticle care will also help your nails to grow faster.
How long does it take for nails to grow?
The average adult fingernail grows at a rate of 3.47 millimeters per month.
To put that into perspective, if you lost a whole fingernail, (this happened to me when I was a kid during a skateboarding incident) it would take approximately 6 months to fully grow back.
Of course, everyone is different, and your age, diet, overall health and circulation can play a role in the speed at which your nails grow.
For some strange reason, the nails on your dominant hand (the one you write with) will grow a tiny bit faster.
Your nails are also likely to grow more quickly in the summer.
No-one really knows exactly why this is the case, but it’s likely to have something to do with increased exposure to vitamin D from sunlight.
The longer the finger, the faster the nail will grow, too.
What about toenails?
Toenails, in comparison to fingernails, grow much more slowly, almost 4 times slower.
The average growth rate for adults is just 1.62 millimeters per month.
That means that if you lost a toenail, you’d have to wait 18 months for it to fully return!
5 Things you should avoid if you want your nails to grow.
Ok, before we dive deep into what you can do to help your nails to grow faster, let’s look at what you shouldn’t be doing if you want long luscious nails.
This is a definite no-no. When you bite your nails, not only are you making them shorter (defeating the purpose) but all that chomping is also damaging them.
Plus, biting your nails can cause bacterial infections in your hands and in your mouth, which is totally gross, and no-one wants that!
If you’re a nail biter, there are lots of things you can try, such as replacing the habit with chewing gum, painting your nails with beautiful nail art that you won’t want to spoil, coating your nails in a nasty tasting polish or simply wearing gloves.
2. Excessive gel nail or acrylic manicures.
I know, I know, it’s a vicious cycle.
Your natural nails look awful, so you constantly have them done.
But, if you want them to grow faster and stronger, you have to let them have a break every once in a while.
Even when it’s done properly, removal of gel and acrylic nails causes damage and weakens your natural nails.
Ideally, you need to give your nails 2 to 3 weeks of no treatments so that they can recover from the stress of constant manicures.
If you absolutely cannot go naked, then try alternating between a gel or acrylic and a normal (regular polish) manicure.
I have a confession to make. I’m a peeler!
There’s just something so damn tempting about that first tiny chip, just begging to be touched.
Then, before I know it, I’m picking and peeling the day away.
The worst thing about picking off polish this way is that it pulls the top layer of your nails off with it, leaving them paper-thin and utterly useless.
Do yourself and your nails a favour and don’t be impatient like me.
Something I have found helpful in stopping the peeling/picking habit is to buy nail polish remover wipes.
You can keep them in your bag so that if your nails chip you can remove the polish to stop you being tempted!
4. Skipping the base coat.
There’s nothing wrong with skipping the basecoat to save a little time, right?
This is soooo common and so terribly bad for your nails.
Base coats not only create a suitable surface for the polish to adhere to, (making your manicure last longer) but they also stop your nails from getting stained.
Skipping the base coat is also one of the main reasons why gel nail polish does not stay on.
5. Using your nails as tools.
Need to open something? Use scissors. Need to scrape something? Use wire wool. These things exist to save your nails, so use them!
Repeat after me “my nails are not tools, my nails are not tools, my nails are not…” you get the idea.
Why are my nails so thin?
There are 3 main causes of weak nails.
1. Too many chemicals.
If your nails are thin, soft and weak, then you might be overexposing them to chemicals.
Overusing nail products like strengtheners, polishes, gels (and especially removers) can cause damage which leaves your nails in a weakened state.
If you always have your nails done and like to change them up often, then your thin nails are probably a sign that you need to take a break from manis for a while.
You should also avoid detergents, washing up liquid and cleaning products which can get onto your nails.
2. Too much moisture.
If your nails bend and break easily and you haven’t been manicuring like crazy, then moisture may be the culprit.
To improve and strengthen thin nails caused by repeated wetting and drying, you can try wearing gloves while washing up and in the shower.
3. Not enough vitamins/poor circulation.
Poor diet or poor circulation can affect the growth rate and condition of your nails.
Thin, soft nails are most often associated with deficiencies in B vitamins, calcium or iron, so taking supplements or eating foods rich in these 3 vitamins can help get your nails back into tip-top shape.
What foods make your nails grow?
There are 4 main vitamins that help with nail growth. Any foods or supplements containing the following 4 things will help with nail growth and repair:
● Folic Acid.
● Vitamin A.
● Vitamin C.
Let’s look at each of these 4 substances and see what foods are rich in them and therefore good for nail growth.
Biotin (aka) vitamin H is the main vitamin associated with nail growth and overall nail health.
It’s also good for your skin and hair.
For optimum nail boosting power, it’s recommended to consume between 30 and 40 micrograms daily.
Foods that are rich in biotin include:
● Egg Yolks.
● Almonds (raw, salted or roasted).
● Soy Beans.
● Green beans.
● Cauliflower (best eaten raw for maximum benefit).
● Cheeses (blue cheese and camembert contain the most biotin).
● Mushrooms (again, raw is better).
● Sweet potato.
You can also get biotin in powder form and add it to smoothies or juices.
Folic Acid or folate (aka vitamin B9) is beneficial for creating and maintaining healthy red blood cells, which is why so many pregnant women take it.
But did you know that it’s also one of the best vitamins you can take for nail growth and strengthening?
It’s also very safe as your body naturally gets rid of the excess so there’s no possible way to overdo it.
Foods that are rich in Folic Acid include:
● Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale).
● Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime).
● Beans, peas and lentils.
● Brussel sprouts.
● Nuts and seeds.
● Beef Liver.
Getting more vitamin A into your system is a great way to strengthen your nails.
Whether you are taking a supplement or getting it from your diet, you should aim to consume between 700 and 900 micrograms of vitamin A each day.
Here’s a list of foods rich in nail growth-boosting vitamin A:
● Beef or lamb Liver.
● Oily fish like mackerel salmon tuna and trout.
● Most cheeses (including Goats cheese, blue cheese, Limburger, Cheddar, Camembert and Roquefort).
● Sweet potato.
Vitamin C plays a significant role in feeding the immune system which in turn helps greatly with nail growth and repair.
Here’s a list of some of the best food sources for vitamin C.
● Kakadu plums (an Australian superfood with 10x the Vit C content of oranges).
● Green and red Peppers.
● Rose Hips.
● Chilli Peppers.
How can I strengthen my nails?
As we have discussed, you can strengthen your nails by avoiding bad habits like biting and peeling and by eating the right foods or taking supplements.
However, we haven’t yet talked about nail strengtheners or practising proper nail care.
Using nail strengtheners.
When it comes to products, the choice is overwhelming.
There are so many different creams, serums and polishes on the market designed to help you to strengthen or harden your nails in one way or another.
Personally, I prefer not to use nail hardeners as they only help in the short term.
While they can be effective in preventing breakages if you rely on them too much they backfire and cause more damage.
If you are going to use them, I suggest doing so sparingly, and always check the ingredients for chemical nasties like toluene, formaldehyde and DBP.
Practice proper nail care.
Looking after your nails will help them to grow faster and proper manicuring will help you to avoid breakages.
Here’s what you need to do:
● Soak and push back your cuticles 2 to 3 times a week.
● Apply a moisturising cream or oil to your cuticles once soaked.
● File your nails regularly and gently using a soft file.
● File from the outside edge towards the centre, don’t saw at them as this causes damage!
● File your naked nails into a rounded shape as squared-off shapes are far more likely to chip and break.
If you are experiencing chipping, peeling or smudging, then chances are you could be using the wrong lamp.
Every gel nail polish formula is different, and many companies design their lamps to match their specific formula.
So, if you like to use a lot of different makes of gel polish but you only have one lamp. That could be your issue.
I always advise people to use the same brand of polish and lamp. That way you can be sure that your lamp has been designed to cure your polish to perfection.