What Your Nails Are Telling You About Your Health

Listen up, polish junkies! The thought of fluttering your fingernails sans polish may feel just plain wrong (our nails wouldn’t be the same without their wardrobe of glossy, matte or glitter finishes), but it might be time to reconsider. Why? The state of your bare nails can tell you a lot about your overall health: peeling, ridges, and brittleness are unsightly, but might also be your body’s cry for help.


From problem signs to solutions, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your nails!

  • 1 of 8


    Your nail plates consist of multiple layers of keratin, but when they’re exposed to dry air or water, these protective layers start to peel. In other cases, peeling nails are caused by a lack of a nutrient called linoleic acid. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Simply incorporate vegetable oils-- soybean oil and sunflower oil—into your diet.

    Take your nail nourishment up a notch with CND’s Solar Oil Skin and Nail Conditioner ($12)—it’s editor-approved! Just like you would with nail polish, swipe the nail strengthening oil onto your nails and in the crevices of your cuticles. Vitamin E, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and rice bran oil will yield visible improvements to your nails in minutes—works every time. 

  • 2 of 8


    Healthy nail beds should resemble a neatly made hotel bed—smooth and free of grooves or ridges. If your nail beds look different, you now officially have an excuse to embark on a weekend getaway. Extreme stress may be the culprit for ridges in nails. Whatever you choose—vacay, yoga, shopping spree—just be sure to occasionally give your nails (and yourself) a break from polish and stress!

  • 3 of 8


    The only color your nails should have on them is your favorite nail polish. Except, sometimes, rocking a dark polish for extended periods of time can make your nails yellow. To prevent this, always apply a base coat prior to polishing! Better yet, undress your nails for a few days and the little breather will work nail-wonders.

    In general, healthy nails have a fair, flesh tone, so if you notice an ongoing yellow tinge, you could be getting a fungal infection. Your best bet is to see a dermatologist. Otherwise, your nails could thicken, or worse—crumble! 

  • 4 of 8


    If your nails have a blue hue, this means your body’s calling for more oxygen! The medical term, cyanosis, can also arise from low levels of hemoglobin, the carrier of oxygen in red blood cells. Don’t ignore the color and be sure to visit your dermatologist for a medical checkup to identify the underlying cause. 

  • 5 of 8


    There are two main causes of brittle nails. The first is dryness that comes after excessive exposure to water—apologies to your summer pool party plans. But don’t fret: slathering a hydrating hand cream, like L’Occitane’s Hand Cream ($12), all over your hands and nails will ease dryness in no time. The second cause of brittle nails could be an iron deficiency. To rid your not-so-nifty nails from this condition, stock up on dark, leafy green vegetables, and consider upping your biotin intake.

  • 6 of 8
  • 7 of 8

    L'Occitane Hand Cream ($12)

  • 8 of 8
EXPLORE: CND, Butter London, L’Occitane, Nails, Health, nail health, Nails


See More Stories