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9 Nail-Strengthening Habits for Thicker, Longer Nails

These habits help promote nail health.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Thin, soft, brittle nails, aka Onychoschizia, can be frustrating and even painful. Luckily, there are ways to treat the condition. "When it comes to strengthening your nails, incorporating certain habits into your routine can promote stronger, thicker nails and encourage healthy nail growth over time," explains Dr. Alexandra Bowles, DO, Board-Certified Dermatologist at MONA Dermatology. Here are key nail-strengthening habits for thicker, longer nails.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Hands holding salmon and buckwheat dish with green beans, broad beans, and tomato slices. Nutritious dish with vegetables and fish from above. Healthy balanced diet

"For one, it's important to maintain a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients such as protein, biotin, vitamins (particularly vitamin C and vitamin E), and minerals like iron and zinc, which are important for nail health," explains Dr. Bowles.



Dr. Bowles also recommends staying hydrated, "by drinking plenty of water to keep your nails hydrated and prevent them from becoming brittle," she says.

Wear Gloves

A young woman in yellow gloves washes dishes with a sponge in the sink. House professional cleaning service.

She also recommends protecting your nails by wearing gloves when doing household chores or working with harsh chemicals to prevent damage and breakage to your nails.

Avoid Acetone

Nail polish remover, beauty salon, manicure.Treatment hand and nail care, the woman to a beautician for a manicure.

Also, choose nail polish remover carefully. "Avoid harsh chemicals by limiting exposure to nail polish removers containing acetone, as it can dry out and weaken your nails," suggests Dr. Bowles. "Opt for acetone-free formulas instead."

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Moisturize with Hand Cream

young woman uses body care cream

"Moisturize regularly by applying a moisturizing hand cream or nail oil to your nails and cuticles daily to keep them hydrated and prevent them from becoming dry and brittle," she adds.

File Nails Carefully

Closeup photo of young womans hand makes herself a manicure, files her nails with a nail file. Personal hygiene

When filing your nails Dr. Bowles recommends using a gentle nail file to shape your nails, avoiding harsh filing motions that can cause damage and weaken the nails.

Take a Break From Nail Polish

Bottles of nail polish on a colorful wooden table

Limit Nail Polish use by giving your nails a break from nail polish occasionally to allow them to breathe and recover, Dr. Bowles recommends. "When using nail polish, opt for formulas that are free of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)," she adds.

Be Gentle with Them

Manicure and Hands Spa. Beautiful Woman hand closeup. Manicured nails and Soft hands skin wide banner. Beauty treatment. Beautiful woman's nails with beautiful baby boomer manicure copy space for

Be gentle with your nails by avoiding using them as tools for tasks like opening packages or scratching surfaces, as this can cause them to break or become damaged, Dr. Bowles maintains.

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Protect Them From Trauma

nervous young woman biting her nails on gray background

Last but not least, "protect your nails from trauma by being mindful of activities that can cause trauma to your nails, such as biting or picking at them or wearing acrylic tips, which can weaken and damage the nail structure," she says.

💪🔥Body Booster: Be very careful of any chemicals that come into contact with your nails if they are dry and brittle.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more