Having a broken nail can ruin our day. We know it sounds shallow, and there are worse things in life than a chipped nail. However, you wouldn’t know how bothersome it truly is until it happens to you. Those things can be painful, snag on clothes, and scratch your skin.

So how can you avoid broken nails? We’ve got some tips for you!

Eat Healthy Foods or Take Supplements

Woman chopping veg in kitchen

Healthy nails begin with a nutritious diet. Listen to dieticians and nutritionists when they tell you to eat your fruits and vegetables.

However, not everyone is capable of getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals from what they eat. We can get really busy, and we’re aware that it can be difficult to maintain a balanced diet each day. That’s why most people take supplements. It gives you an extra dose of what you might be lacking from your food.

Many women have started taking hair and nail vitamins to grow them out long and healthy. These supplements often contain the following:

  • Iron
  • Protein
  • Omega-3 fats
  • Zinc
  • Biotin
  • Vitamins A to E

However, because nails are keratin and are technically dead cells, you cannot strengthen the fingernails you see now. Instead, a balanced diet plus supplements will lead to stronger nails in the future. You will have to wait and grow them out for you to see results visibly.

Stay Hydrated

When you’re not drinking enough water, your whole body suffers. Yes, that doesn’t spare your nails, either. When you’re dehydrated, your skin feels rough, you feel weak, and your nail plate becomes dry.

And then what happens?

That’s right; you get brittle nails.

Consequently, you’re more likely to get broken nails that can be painful and annoying.

Well, how much water should you be drinking? The answer isn’t that straightforward. The advice we always hear is eight glasses a day. However, several factors can change the advisable amount, including:

  • The amount of exercise you get in a day
  • Your general well-being at the time (for example, if you’re sick)
  • The weather, temperature, and general environment
  • If you’re breastfeeding

Experts also discovered that women might need a lower fluid intake than men. It’s best to get about 11.5 cups a day compared to guys needing 15.5 cups. Considering this information, you don’t have to drink all of that. About 20% of your fluid intake already comes from the food you eat.

Use Moisturizer

Moisturizer on hands

When we speak of the importance of hydration, we mean that from the inside and out. Even if you’re drinking enough water, external factors may still leave your nails brittle.

Try to look at the surrounding cuticle and skin on your fingers. If they look dry, you’re likely not moisturizing enough.

Why not add a hand cream to your skincare routine? You can also use nail and cuticle oils! Look for something that has vitamin E. Having vitamin E is exceptionally healthy and helpful for your cuticles. This will prevent hangnails and chipping or breakage.

Again, this will not immediately solve your problem of having brittle nails. You cannot fix the nails you can see now. Instead, moisturizing will help strengthen your fingernails that grow out later.

Keep Them Dry

It seems like this tip goes against the last, after all that talk about keeping yourself hydrated and moisturized. However, what we actually mean is to avoid getting your nails wet.

Leaving your hands in the water can strip your nails and skin of healthy oils. That means washing your hands, doing laundry, and washing dishes for too long can be damaging. These activities can then lead to drying out, making your nails prone to breakage.

So what’s a solution if you can’t avoid this?

You can wear gloves when performing your chores that involve water. We know it’s not the most comfortable, but we all have to make sacrifices if we want to keep our nails pretty.

But because we can’t avoid washing our hands during this pandemic, is there something else we can do?

As we said earlier, we can keep our hands hydrated with hand cream or cuticle oil. While water may damage our nails, we need to wash our hands to keep viruses away.

Take a Break From Nail Polish & Manicures

We know how nice it feels to have beautifully-painted nails. However, it could also be your beloved nail polish that’s ruining your nails for you. 

When you leave nail polish on for extended periods, your natural nail can become dry underneath. And lack of moisture then leads to brittle nails that are prone to breaking.

Similarly, artificial nails aren’t always a healthy alternative either. Technicians need to cure gel nails under UV light. While the amount they expose you too isn’t that harmful, constant use can be damaging.

Further, the gap between the fake nail and natural nail may become a breeding ground for germs. That’s an infection waiting to take place. Be sure to check with reviews and accreditations and check that your nail salon is sanitizing their tools frequently and correctly. 

So, experts recommend that you take a break now and then. Let your nails breathe for a few days each month. If you notice that there’s discoloration, rest for a little longer. Signs of damage should also point to taking a break for maybe a few weeks until you grow your nails.

Pay Attention to Nail Polish Ingredients

Nail polishes on table

As pretty as nail polish is, it can be hiding something sinister. The next time you shop for polish or get a manicure at a salon, be sure to read labels. Your favorite color could have harmful ingredients.

What red flags should you avoid? Here’s the toxic trio:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

Formaldehyde prolongs the product’s shelf life. You can also find it in many kinds of nail hardeners. It’s best to skip products with this ingredient for this reason. Overexposure to this component can lead to skin irritation, heart rhythm disorders, and even cancer.

Manufacturers add in toluene to create a smooth finish on your nails. However, it can cause dry skin, dizziness, numbness in the fingers, and eye irritation. You can also sometimes find this component in hair dye.

Lastly, DBP can make polishes more flexible to keep them from cracking on your nail. Studies show that it can be toxic both in the short- and long-run. Not only can it irritate the skin, eyes, and nose, it can also lead to kidney and liver failure.

Now, nail polishes will come in varying degrees of being toxic-free. The most basic you should reach for is 3-free. What this indicator means is that the brand does not include the toxic trio we talked about earlier. Other brands will go further and be 5-free up to 12-free. 

Here’s a quick guide:

  • 5-free – does not include the toxic trio, formaldehyde resin, and camphor
  • 7-free – further excludes xylene and ethyl tosylamide
  • 9-free – removes acetone and parabens from the list
  • 10-free – does not include any animal by-products, tert-Butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP), and gluten
  • 12-free – excludes triphenyl phosphate and other animal derivatives

Here are a few of our nail polish brand picks that avoid toxic ingredients:

  • ORLY – 12-free
  • Côte – 10-free
  • Jinsoon – 9- and 10-free
  • Sundays – 10-free and vegan
  • Londontown – 9-free

Be Mindful of Your Nails When Typing

If you’ve had long nails before, you know how difficult it can be to type without your nails hitting the keys. The same happens when you use your phone. And although nail tapping is a staple in ASMR videos, it can actually be damaging in reality.

It may not seem like it is harmful, but constant trauma can deteriorate your nail plate. And when that happens, your nails may become prone to breakage.

To solve this issue, you can do two things:

  1. You can trim your nails short enough not to touch the keyboard or phone screen.
  2. You can readjust the way you type or text so that your nails don’t hit anything.

Opt For Round-Shaped Nails

Pointed nails may be a trend for celebrities and Instagram stars, but it’s not very practical. Further, the narrow tips make it prone to breakage.

If you find that you’re often breaking your nails, it might be best to opt for a different shape. You can go for a rounder, oval shape. Alternatively, you can have a square shape with rounded corners for a more stylish look.

File Your Nails Properly

Hands filing nails

Remember those teen movies where there’s always a character filing her nails in almost every scene? We sure were like that girl at some point in our lives.

However, did you know that you could be filing your nails incorrectly all this time?

Firstly, running that file back and forth could be the cause of your consistently broken nails. This motion could weaken your nail and make it brittle. Instead, go in one direction.

Secondly, don’t file too far down the sides. It can weaken the nail and cause breakage even before you have polish on your digits.

Lastly, use the file flat against your nail. Do not, by all means, hold it at an angle! Doing so will cause you to thin the tip of the nail. And thinner ends mean they’re more prone to damage.

Don’t Trim Your Cuticles

Put that cuticle trimmer away. And if you’re at the salon for a manicure, tell your technician or manicurist to steer clear of it as well.

People tend to cut or push back their cuticles give the illusion of length. It also gives them a little more room to create patterns and designs on the nail. However, this step is a huge no-no.

Nail experts and dermatologists advise against cutting the cuticle. It’s a part of your fingers that keeps your nails safe from bacteria as they grow. When you cut the cuticle, it makes the area susceptible to infection.

Pushing back the cuticle is safe if you don’t go too far. The proper procedure is to soften the area with oil or cream and gently push it back with a cuticle pusher.

Seeing a Doctor

When you’ve tried out all these tips, and nothing still seems to work, it might be time to see a medical professional. Dry and brittle nails may be an indicator of an illness.

Our nails can be an indicator of our general health. Numerous lines on the fingernail could be due to stress. Spots and moles under the nail plate could indicate melanoma and be of grave concern. Red patches could be related to psoriasis.  Ridged nails, white streaks and spots, and Beau’s lines could likewise point to kidney disease.

If you’re worried about your nails and you also find that you’re experiencing trouble with your hair, see a doctor.

Let’s Keep Our Nails Healthy!

Hands holding each other

Many of us love painting our nails. They’re a way for us to express our creativity, pamper ourselves, and de-stress. They also make for great accessories to a cute outfit. However, like paintings, we have to be mindful of the canvas we paint on.

Brittle nails will lead to breakages. And what’s the point of spending ages putting on nail polish only to have a break in the nail ruin it?

To avoid this problem, be mindful of your diet and take supplements if needed. Keep your nails hydrated by drinking water and using a cuticle cream or moisturizer. Likewise, be careful not to sit in water for too long as these can strip your nails of healthy oils.

Further, skip out on polish now and then to let your nails breathe. You can use this time to scour the market for toxic-free options that won’t compromise health for style.

Be mindful of your nail shape as well. Something too pointy makes it more susceptible to breakage. Nails that are too long can also cause you to hit and add pressure to them when you type and text.

Additionally, practice proper techniques when doing your nails. Be careful when filing your nails and skip the cuticle cutter even at the salon.

Lastly, consult with a doctor if your nails are severely damaged and don’t seem to improve.