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How To Strengthen Your Nails

With my nail polish collection rapidly growing, I've been switching polish colors as often as possible — which, of course, causes problems with my nails. So I thought it would be a good idea to give you some tips on how to protect your nails from damage, as well as help fix already-damaged ones. Vertical ridges, white marks, spots, peeling and brittleness are normal signs of neglected nails. Anything else strange going on with your nails could be an indication of a health problem. There's no need to freak out, but keep an eye on it and see a doctor if you suspect there's something funky going on there.

To see how to protect and strengthen your nails,


  • Use a base coat: Using a base coat before applying color will protect your nails from any harmful chemicals in your polish, and also help prevent the polish from staining your nails. I like Butter London Nail Foundation, especially because it's formaldehyde-free.
  • Keep it short: Long nails are more likely to snag and tear. The best shape for your nail's health is square and slightly rounded on the top (some call this "squoval"). Clean under the nails regularly, and file any snags as soon as they happen.
  • Just say no toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP, that is. These common nail polish ingredients can dry out and damage your nails, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. To see which nail polish brands are "three-free," check out this post.
  • Reduce remover: Ideally, you should limit your nail polish remover usage to twice a month. I know that sounds difficult, but try extending your manicures with a rock-solid top coat, like my personal favorite, Seche Vite. When it's time to remove your polish, use a non-acetone remover, and let nails breathe for a few days in between applications.
  • Soak: If, despite your best efforts, your nails end up a brittle, peeling mess, treat them to a warm oil soak. Just heat some bath or olive oil in the microwave, then dip your fingertips in for about 10-15 minutes. When you're finished, rub generous amounts of lotion or a good cuticle cream into your nails and cuticles. I'm a fan of Kiehl's Imperiale Cuticle Treatment ($19.50).
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Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 8 years
twice a month? i can barely do twice a week :))
MissMarisol MissMarisol 9 years
Great post!
oh-cecilia-baby oh-cecilia-baby 9 years
.... gross ^ lol
E-Pierdominici E-Pierdominici 9 years
Here's a tip I read, but have not yet tried: Mince garlic and place in clear nail polish. Shake well and paint nails (avoid getting any of the clumps of garlic on your nail). Not only should the garlic help revitalize the nail, but it will discourage you from biting them!! Not totally sure of the results, but give it a try if you'd like =].
Scrangie Scrangie 9 years
If you use Seche Vite over dry polish (or over dry Seche Vite) it will shrink and make your polish peel off.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 9 years
awesome post Bella!!
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
i swear by nailtiques formula 2.
emalove emalove 9 years
Thanks for the tips!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
ella I have always had vertical ridges too, it's a bummer. Has your diet changed or stresses? My nails are super peely too. I actually never paint my nails because they always look like crap when I do. Is that bad that they're "exposed" or something??
advo advo 9 years
Great tips! I needed it, my nails look awful!
mischo-beauty mischo-beauty 9 years
Great post Bella!
linday_love linday_love 9 years
thanks my nails are weak!
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
My vertical ridges have always been there, but they have gotten a little worse lately. And worse in some nails more than others. Any idea what causes that?
meg_lynne252 meg_lynne252 9 years
For a remover I love with a capital L the vegan nail polish remover from SpaRitual. It is super gentle, takes off polish, even dark inky shades, like a dream and doesn't smell harsh and gross. it leaves your hands smelling like blood orange and feeling soft and clean. Definitely better than that crazy, harsh chemical stuff out there.
kbrooks7 kbrooks7 9 years
nice tips!! my nails have been a peeling mess lately, i'm going to try the olive oil soak for sure!
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
Thanks for the tips :-D I limit my remover usage... but I think that's laziness more than any healthful intentions :-p
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Senne Senne 9 years
I started using this basecoat for thin nails and it's really made my nails stronger. I change polish every week and have no probs with my nails. It's called "Nailtiques". Be Blessed!!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Very good tips!
em1282 em1282 9 years
Great tips, Bella. I didn't know about trying to limit nail polish remover usage to twice a month. I'll have to keep that in mind. :) Also, I really like the neem nail oil pens from Dr. Hauschka. They help my raggedy cuticles and dry nails.
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