Tips for strengthening brittle nails

12 December, 2013

Question: My nails are brittle and break easily. Can you tell me how to strengthen nails?

Weak, brittle nails easily split and crack, snagging on clothes and looking unkempt. But a few easy dos and don’ts will help restore their health.

Here’s how to strengthen nails and get them looking in great shape.


- Keep your nails short, since longer nails are more brittle.

- Use regular polish since it acts as a protectant and enhances moisture, and look for formulas with nylon and rayon fibers.

- At night, apply a low-percentage urea or lactic acid cream lotion.

- You may also want to consider a biotin supplement: 2.5 mg per day is the right dose to strengthen nails from the inside out.

- Avoid products that can dehydrate nails, like acetone-based nail polish, waterless hand sanitizers and fragranced hand lotions, and be sure to wear gloves when using harsh household cleansers.


- Pick or peel nails, or bite cuticles.

Finally, keep these steps in mind when you’re trimming your nails: Soak them in a soapy solution first. The extra step softens nails, which can prevent cracking, splitting and horizontal layering. Use a nail file instead of clippers if you can, and -- if you must use clippers -- make sure they’re perpendicular to the nail plate to avoid layering.

Dr. Amy J. Derick is a dermatologist in Barrington, Ill. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and a clinical instructor at Northwestern University. She has previously contributed to Life & Beauty Weekly.


by Dr. Amy J. Derick