Your fingernails are much more than an extension of your finger. They are made up of dead cells and a tough, protective protein referred to as keratin. Your fingernails are made of the same elements as your hair, just with a different structure. Healthy nails are hard, but smooth and can withstand excessive amounts of pressure. Nutritional deficiencies and exposure to chemicals or contaminants can cause them to weaken and break. The following tips will help you keep your nails strong, resilient, and looking their best.
Allow Your Nails to Breathe
Even though your nails are basically “dead”, they still need to breathe. Constantly covering them with acrylic nails or nail polish can weaken them structurally causing them to lose the protein that keeps them strong and healthy. Leave your nails bare occasionally, allowing them to soak up Vitamin D from the sun and recover from exposure to harsh chemicals and detergents. 1 If you prefer to wear polish, shellac seems to be the least damaging and will protect them from chipping and other types of damage.
Soak Your Nails
Soaking your nails can restore their luster and revitalize them. Add a small amount of sea salt and a few drops of lavender essential oil to a cup of warm water and soak the nail’s of each hand for 5 to 10 minutes each. You can also soak them in apple cider vinegar or a mixture of tea tree oil (3 to 5 drops) and Epsom salts (1/2 teaspoon). Soaking not only cleans away dirt and debris that collects under the nails, it also softens the cuticles making it easier for you to trim them away. 2
Moisturize your hands often, especially after doing dishes or taking a shower. 3 Use a quality moisturizer on your hands that is rich in Vitamin E and other emollients, like castor oil, coconut oil, or shea butter. You can also apply a small amount of cocoa butter to each nail and massage it in thoroughly. This allows the moisturizer to penetrate deeply into the nail and cuticle, providing much-needed nutrients to keep them strong and healthy looking.
Keep Them Trimmed
Much like trimming your hair promotes new growth, trimming your nails keeps them strong and resilient. Keeping the nails slightly squared at the corners and filed smoothly prevents them from catching on your clothing or scratching. Maintaining your nails will also prevent them from chipping or breaking as you go about your day. Trimming your cuticles will keep them from tearing and becoming infected. 4
Eat A Healthy Diet
Your hair, nails, and skin are all part of the same body system. Biotin, folic acid, and Omega 3- and 9-fatty acids are essential for their health. 5 With them, your hair would lose its shine, your skin would lose its elasticity, and your nails would become brittle and weak. Biotin can be found in egg yolks, while the fatty acids are found in abundance in fish oils and flax seeds. In addition to eating the right foods (in the right amounts), it is also essential that you drink enough water each day to stay sufficiently hydrated.
Apply Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil can be found in many different lotions, oils, and herbal remedies. You can also buy small bottles that allow you to apply a small drop to each nail as it’s needed. Tea tree oil moisturizes the nail, but it’s known to be one of the strongest anti-bacterial remedies in the world of natural health. 6 You can cut it by placing 5 to 7 drops in a small bottle of almond or jojoba oil and applying it to your fingernails and cuticles. This is extremely beneficial for individuals who work in an environment where their fingers are constantly exposed to bacteria and other harmful contaminants.
There are many different ways to naturally strengthen your nails. Keeping them healthy involves common sense and a little knowledge about what is available naturally that will support their growth and keep them looking vibrant and strong. Natural remedies are nothing new. Research is proving that in some cases, natural remedies offer a few of the most effective options for keeping the nails and hair looking their very best.
- 10 Things Your Nails Reveal About Your Health, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/07/10-nail-symptoms.aspx ↩
- Homemade Nail Strengthener, https://www.livestrong.com/article/186727-homemade-nail-strengthener/ ↩
- 14 Secrets to Strengthen Brittle Nails, https://www.prevention.com/health/14-secrets-to-strengthen-brittle-nails ↩
- 6 Steps to Improved Nail — and Overall — Health, https://www.webmd.com/beauty/news/20110804/6-steps-improved-nail-health#1 ↩
- Vitamin H (Biotin), http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-h-biotin ↩
- Tea Tree Oil, http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn2873spec ↩