How to treat weak and brittle nails
During colder months many of us suffer from weak and brittle nails, with the weather causing our nails to become dry and prone to breakage. There are many ways in which we can look after our nails to prevent them from becoming brittle; the foods we eat to the way we protect our hands from the elements all contribute towards having strong, resilient nails.
How to treat brittle nails
Read on to find out how you can avoid dry, flaking nails this year with these simple tips for foods, hand-care and homemade remedies.
Foods for healthy nails
Almost every vitamin and mineral contributes to the strength, length and growth of our nails. The combination of beta-carotene and magnesium in dark leafy veg – such as spinach and kale – can be fantastic for our hair and nails. Magnesium, in particular, is vital for activating enzymes that are responsible for the growth of nails. Leafy greens are also packed with calcium which is thought to strengthen nails; a lack of this important mineral can cause white spots on the nails, also known as leukonychia. These white spots don’t just appear when we aren’t getting enough calcium in our diet, but are also an indication of a lack of zinc, which is key for nail growth.
Increasing our intake of omega-3, protein and silica is a top tip for helping to prevent brittle nails, so making sure that there is plenty of oily fish, lean meat (especially pasture-fed meat), eggs, nuts and seeds in our diet is crucial.
Biotin – derived from the Greek work biotos which translates to ‘life and sustenance’ – definitely lives up to its name by strengthening and lengthening our nails to their best health. Luckily for us, it is quite rare to be deficient in biotin, so it is generally unnecessary to consciously increase our intake. Good sources of biotin include offal, eggs, dairy products, cereals, fish, soya beans, peanuts and wholegrain cereals.
Treating brittle nails
Another way to prevent dry, brittle nails is to wear gloves while doing household chores such as washing up and gardening, and to make sure that you exercise regularly to boost circulation and blood flow to your fingertips. It is also extremely important to make wise decisions when choosing nail polishes and removers, making sure to avoid toluene, formaldehyde and acetone and, where possible, choosing products enriched with oils – such as borage or avocado – which can not only treat, but also even prevent, brittle nails.
Moisturising creams made with a high plant oil content are wonderful both for keeping our hands soft, and our nails well cared for. When filing nails, it is best to do so gently in one direction to help ensure that they don’t split. A sharp pair of cuticle nippers will help trim cuticles and hangnails, but try to limit cutting away hard skin as this leads to further hard skin forming. A better option is to gently buff hardened cuticles with a nail filing block (you’ll find these useful rectangular blocks in nail salons and good chemists).
Finally, there are many natural oils and butters – such as shea butter, almond, argan and coconut oil – that can be used to treat brittle nails. If using oil, either soak the tips of your fingers – or your hands – for 10-15 minutes, or use a drop on each nail and massage in gently. For a more intense treatment try Liz’s homemade hand and nail baths.
Loved this? Read on here:
- White spots don’t just appear when we aren’t getting enough calcium – they’re also an indication of a lack of zinc
- Choose nail products enriched with oils – such as borage or avocado – which help treat and prevent brittle nails