Having short or brittle nails can be a huge pain—both literally and figuratively. Whether you're devastated about breaking a nail you've worked so hard to grow or have suffered some sort of nail trauma that is causing pain or discomfort, we know you want regrowth to happen, stat. And while Dr. Kathleen S. Viscusi tells us that increased trauma may actually speed up nail growth—breaking a nail triggers your body to send more blood and an influx of nutrients to the area to help repair it—that's not to say that you should intentionally break a nail to stimulate growth (phew).
Instead, there are solutions to make your long-nail dreams come true—and they don't involve tips and overlays, either. According to Viscusi and nail expert Syreeta Aaron, with proper care, maintenance, and education you can be well on your way to achieving healthy nails, and in turn, nail growth.
Meet the Expert
- Syreeta Aaron is a LeChat Nails educator and professional nail artist.
- Kathleen S. Viscusi, MD, FAAD, FACMS, is the co-founder/partner of Dermatology and Surgery Specialists of North Atlanta (DESSNA).
Keep scrolling to learn how to grow your nails faster.
Acrylics may help you beat that nasty nail-biting habit but they can also do a number on your nails. "Avoiding nail enhancements prevents your nails from weakening, which also helps with less breakage and allows your nails to harden," explains Aaron. Also, protecting your nails from harsh chemicals—including popular nail polish remover ingredient, acetone—will keep nails healthy and moisturized. Opt for a non-acetone natural remover like Sign Tribe Remove and Chill Nail Polish Eraser Cream or a non-traditional option—you won't regret it.
Try a Keratin Supplement
Keratin is not just a hair treatment—it's actually the main protein that makes up your nails. So taking a keratin supplement could help build strength and resiliency, much in the same way it works on your hair. Taking it orally or applying it topically as an oil may bring you one step closer to long and healthy nails.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Apart from ingesting protein as a keratin supplement, you should also be incorporating food with protein into your diet. Not only is it important to eat the right amount of protein for your overall health and nutrition, but it can also affect your nails and the speed at which they grow. "Vitamins and eating healthy promotes better conditioning from within to help with the growth of your nails," says Aaron.
Use Cuticle Oil or Serum
Staying hydrated is an important part of any self-care routine—cuticles included. By using cuticle oil regularly, you'll avoid breakage and picking while simultaneously keeping your nails healthy and flexible, too. Dry nails will break and chip while well-moisturized ones will grow nice and long. "Keep in mind that it takes about 12 weeks for a nail to fully grow out from cuticle to tip. Healthy cuticles lead to healthy nails (as a healthy scalp leads to healthy hair)," comments Aaron.
Practice Good Grooming
When we hear the word "grooming" our minds first jump to men's facial hair and Tom Hardy; but, practicing good grooming is also key to having healthy nails. "Grooming nails on a regular basis may protect your nails from breakage," says Aaron. "When grooming your nails, you are removing dead skin and replenishing nutrients such as oil/moisture giving growth of your nails a better chance," she explains. Viscusi adds, "Frequent nail clipping can help stimulate circulation in the nail bed, and help nails grow."
Filing is also a part of nail grooming. If your nails are brittle, we recommend switching to a crystal nail file—a gentler alternative to your traditional emery board—to maintain their shape.
Apply a Nail Strengthener
In order for nails to grow long (without breaking), they need to be strong. Viscusi recommends applying a dermatologist-approved nail strengthener daily. Her pick? ISDIN SI-Nails. "This innovative formula has been clinically proven to help strengthen nails by increasing thickness, density, and durability of the nail and cuticle in just 14 days. SI Nails also promotes keratin and silicon in the nails to help improve growth specifically," she tells us. Meanwhile, Aaron likes IBX Nail Treatment. "There is a trio pack that includes repair, strengthener, and oil that completes for a great at-home manicure," she says.
When nails absorb too much water or are exposed to harsh chemicals they can weaken and become dry, which leads to breakage and cracks that stunt growth. So any time you're doing dishes or household chores be sure to protect your nails by wearing rubber gloves.