I recently noticed that my nails were dry despite the fact that I constantly apply hand cream. They used to be in a better condition when I was taking a hair, skin and nail vitamin. I initially was taking it to strengthen my hair and it did just that. So, I stopped taking it. Little did I know that my nails needed those vitamins, too :/ As a result, they look unhealthy and really dry. I googled the causes and some solutions for this problem and found a dermatologist, Dr.Cynthia Bailey, that wrote about this issue. Here are some of the important parts of what she wrote:
Exposing your hands to harsh soaps, cleaning products, and solvents can affect the natural oils in ones nails. Those oils act as a glue that holds the nail layers together. At first your nails begin to ‘fray’ on the edges, and then they start becoming brittle. Eventually the layers split. Nail hardeners make this worse because the alcohols, formaldehyde and other chemicals in the nail hardeners really dry out your natural oils. Crazy fact: nail hardeners actually contain more of these chemicals than nail polishes! It’s these chemicals that make the nails feel harder at first, but- whammo- after a few weeks the splitting is worse than ever.
Vitamin supplements formulated specifically for nail growth may help improve their condition. It’s important to know that many of the ingredients in these supplements are lavishly present in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, natural oils, beans and fish. Eating a rich, nutritious diet is key to supporting healthy nails and vitamin supplements should be used in addition to, not in place of a healthy diet.
Your fingernails grow slowly, about 1mm per month. As you age, the growth slows down even more. This means it will take several months for the dry and split portion of your nails to grow out. Depending on the condition of the rest of your existing nails, it could take as long as a year for proper nail care, good diet and your vitamin supplements to stop the nail splitting, so hang in there and don’t give up.
Tricks to Treat Cracked and Splitting Fingernails:
- Hydrate and add oils. Use creams, oils and ointments on your nails everyday after they’ve been wet.The best hydrating ingredients for nails are shea butter, jojoba oil, or avocado oil. The thicker the cream the better, and oils or ointments are best. The trick is to use something that stays put for awhile and doesn’t just rub off right away. Don’t forget that applying moisturizers to dry nails is a waste of time. It’s better to moisturize your skin and nails immediately after water exposure.
- Clip and file your nails when they’re wet. Clipping and filing dry nails makes the splits worse so always do it after water exposure. Towel off the water and then use sharp nail clippers to trim your nails, followed by gently filing the edges. Also very gently buff the nail edges to keep the splitting layers from catching on things and progressing down the nail.
- Wear gloves when you do rough work or get your hands into harsh chemicals. Obviously you want to protect your brittle and splitting nails from the things that make them worse.