Skin Deep

How to prevent and repair brittle nails

Household chores, dry air and cold weather can all strip moisture from nails and leave them more prone to breakage.

Luckily, a little TLC goes a long way to restoring their resilience.

Keeping hand lotion by the sinks in your house will help you remember to lube your hands and nails after washing. Nail strengtheners and polishes won’t change the structure of your nails, but they can help make them more resistant to breakage while you adopt the habits below.

What you can do

•  Wear rubber gloves for house chores. They prevent harsh cleaning products from damaging your nails.

•  Don’t use your nails as tools. Using your fingers to pry things open can bend tips and weaken nails.

•  Short nails are less likely to break than long ones.

•  File regularly. Rough edges are more likely to snag and break.

•  Use lotion. In addition to offsetting winter-dry air, it helps restore moisture that nail polish removers can deplete. Use any good body or hand lotion, ideally after each hand washing and before bed.

• Take a 2500 mcg biotin supplement daily. Studies have shown that biotin can increase nail thickness by up to 25 percent resulting in less flaking and splitting of the nails.

•  Protein and calcium have also been shown to play a role in nail strength; be sure to get these nutrients as part of a balanced diet.

• The latest generation of gel manicures can help strengthen nails. Long-lasting manicures like CND’s Shellac and OPI’s GelColor manicures are designed to last for about two weeks, but as an added plus they also help prevent nails from breaking as long as the polish is on.