13 Tips for Growing Longer, Stronger Nails

All of us want longer, stronger nails. How do you achieve them? Check out these 13 tips:

1. Use nail polish less often.

Nail polish contains chemicals, which can cause nails to become brittle. I don't paint my nails that often, but when I do, I can tell that there's a difference in my nails after removing the polish - they're weaker and drier.

2. Don't use rough nail files.

I'm guilty of this. My nails seem to grow fast (I have to file them about once a week). I use a pretty rough nail file because I don't want to spend the time with a smoother one. However, a rough file can cause small fissures and cracks, which causes the nail to tear.

3. Wear gloves when cleaning or working with chemicals.

Do your fingernails look opaque after cleaning your house? That's because of cleaning products - they dry them out and damage the nail. To keep your nails safe, wear rubber gloves when cleaning (especially if you're washing dishes).

4. Avoid cutting your cuticles.

The cuticle is a layer of skin that protects the matrix (where new nail cells grow). Cutting the cuticle leaves the matrix exposed to germs and bacteria, which can cause fungal infections.

5. Push back your cuticles and keep them moisturized.

While we're on the subject of cuticles, do push them back using a cuticle pusher (this process is the easiest after you've showered and your cuticles are soft). Also, it's a good idea to moisturize them daily, whether it's with lotion or a cuticle oil. Otherwise, your cuticles can become stiff and get stuck to the nail plate.

6. Take biotin.

Biotin is a supplement that promotes nail and hair growth. Back when I was trying to break my habit of biting my nails, I took biotin once or twice a day, and it definitely sped up the process!

7. Your nails aren't tools.

As much as nails come in handy for scratching off stickers or opening difficult items, the layers on your nail are easily damaged when doing so. Plus, it can cause splitting and flaking, which means shorter nails.

8. Learn how to file your nails correctly.

Since nails are made up of thin layers, they must be treated delicately, especially when filing. Don't saw back and forth - instead, go in one direction and use a small amount of pressure.

9. Have a balanced diet.

Believe it or not, a nutritious diet is essential for healthy nails. Keratin (which makes up the tough, protective material that nails are made of) is a protein. Therefore, it's important to eat enough protein in your diet to keep your nails strong and looking great. Fruits, vegetables, and magnesium rich food (like pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate) promote nail health as well. Seafood contains tons of zinc, which is needed in the biological production of protein that forms and maintains nails.

10. If you use a nail hardener, use it sparingly - or not at all.

Most nail hardeners do more harm than good, so unless your nails are exceptionally weak and fragile, it's best to stay away from hardeners completely.

11. Don't use acetone-based polish removers.

Although acetone-based removers work great at removing polish quickly, they strip the nail and cause it to become brittle.

12. Exfoliate on a regular basis.

Ever thought of exfoliating your nails? Nope, neither have I. However, it's not in the way that you think. To exfoliate your nails, simply use a nail buffer in gentle, circular motions on the surface of your nail. Just as if you were exfoliating your skin, this process should only be done once a week.

13. Try an awesome DIY nail soak.

Lots of people have said that soaking their fingernails in olive oil helps keep them strong and hydrated. If you prefer a different oil, coconut, argon, vitamin E, tea tree, and castor oil will work just the same. Start by pouring a small amount of oil into a bowl and soaking each hand for 10 minutes. To get the blood circulating, massage the oil into your nail beds and cuticles. Or, if you really want to lock in the moisture, soak your nails at night and wear gloves to bed.

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