Nothing is more elegant than a hand tipped with gorgeous, long nails. Unfortunately for many women, the nails grow thin and brittle and are easily ripped or broken. Some women can combat this easily by keeping their nails at a length that is best suited for their activity level; if you play softball three times a week, having dagger-like nails may not be the best choice for you.
Other times, women are too demanding on their nails and keep them constantly polished, gelled, or false glue on nails and tips. When you realize that your fingernails are made from cells similar to those in the hair and skin, you can see that harsh chemicals applied continuously to your nails can be very harmful in the long run.
Read on for the reasons your nails aren’t growing the way they should be, and tips for growing your nails long and strong.
Things that affect long nail growth:
Your nails are formed from layers of dead keratin protein cells. The hard nail plate protects the soft nail bed found underneath it, and the nail plates from within the cuticle and are pushed outward. On average, fingernails will grow 2 to 3 millimeters every month while toenails only have grown around 1 millimeter each month.
There are many factors that can affect your long nail growth. Some are habits and activities, others involve nail care, and still, others relate to our overall physical health. So, before the tips for long nails, let’s look at the factors which affect long nails growth.
- Location of the nail: You may notice some nails grow faster than others. The nails found in the middle, and index fingers grow the fastest while the thumb and the pinky nails grow noticeably slower. You may also see that the nails on your dominant hand grow faster than the other hand. Nails on hands that are used more, such as physical laborers, will grow faster than people who don’t use their hands as often; this is the complete opposite to what you might think would happen.
- Overall health: Your nails are a pretty good indicator of your overall health. Some diseases, like lung diseases or diabetes, result in yellowing of the nails or thickly growing discolored nails. Poor circulation in the hands can result in nails that grow very slowly, and thyroid disease may lead to very brittle nails.
- Hormones: Women may find their nails growing at different rates throughout the month, depending on the release of certain hormones. They may also find their nails growing very rapidly during pregnancy. Hormone imbalances can be a factor behind slow nail growth.
- Trimming: Nails will grow faster when they are kept trimmed. Even bitten nails will grow faster, provided they are not bitten to the point of nail tissue destruction or infection.
- Nutritional issues: Nail health can be deeply affected by certain nutritional deficiencies in the diet, such as iron, vitamin B, and Omega-3.
- Harsh chemicals: Nail polish removers, dish soaps, and cleaning solutions can all lead to weakened, stressed nails. Using nail polish for too long without giving your nails a break can also be a factor for brittle nails that refuse to grow.
- Seasons, medications, genetic predisposition: In the warmer months, your nails will grow notably faster than in the cooler months. Some medications will slow the growth of your nails. It has been shown that genetics may play a role in the rate of growth of both nails and hair.
Tips for growing your nails long and strong:
Nail issues can be characterized by a few broad categories. Read on to find tips for growing long nails and strong, whatever your nail issues are.
1. Yellowed nails
Your nails may take an unattractive yellowish hue due to illness, smoking, or wearing dark colored nail polishes for too long without a basecoat underneath them.
- Homemade treatment scrub of lemon juice, olive oil, and sugar
- Optical nail whitener to emphasize the white and pink of the nail while neutralizing the yellowish hue
2. Weak or bending nails
This is usually the result of harsh nail polish removers or exposure to harsh chemicals.
- Try a commercially made nail hardener once or twice per week
- Avoid glue on nails
- Switch to a water-based nail polish
- Soak your fingertips in tomato juice
- Eat more protein in your diet
- Soak your fingertips in orange juice
3. Flaking nails
If your nails are strong but flaky, they probably need to be moisturized
- Try a commercially made nail moisturizer with vitamin B5 and calcium
- Use olive oil and let it soak into your nails overnight while wearing cotton gloves
- Rub Vaseline onto your nails and cover them with cotton gloves overnight
4. Easily broken, snapped nails
If your nails are snapping and breaking, they are too hard.
- Try a commercially made nail conditioner
- Use coconut oil and massage it into your cuticles
- Stinging nettle tea once a day
5. Nails that won’t grow long:
This could be the result of a circulation issue or nutritional deficiency.
- Try a commercially made product that stimulates the circulation in your cuticles
- Massage your nails and keep your fingers warm
- Drink orange juice
- Take supplements such as biotin
- Rub flaxseed oil into your nails and cover with cotton gloves once a day
6. Dark discoloration
Dark discoloration along with misshapen, thick nails or whitish streaks. The likely culprit here is a fingernail fungus.
Try an over the counter remedy
• Soak the affected nail in undiluted apple cider vinegar
• Mix apple cider vinegar with rice flour for an exfoliating scrub to use on the nail
• Tea tree oil, diluted in a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil, applied to the nail for ten minutes. Scrub the nail with a toothbrush before rinsing the oils off; repeat several times per week.
• Rub lemon juice onto the nail; rinse it off after several hours.
General long nails growth tips:
Let your nails go without polish for a while, but if you can’t resist, avoid nail polishes that have harsh chemicals in them and always apply a base coat before using nail polish.
- Wear gloves when using harsh chemicals
- Eat a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and protein
- Take a multi-vitamin
- Consider all natural hair and nail supplement with vitamin E, vitamin B, and Biotin
- Cut all nails short and start growing them again
- Pick a nail shape, such as square that is sturdier than others, like the ever breaking almond shape
- Apply a commercially prepared nail strengthener for weak, bendy nails but not for hard, brittle nails
- Moisturize your cuticles
- Gelatin mixed in warm water makes an excellent nail conditioning soak
- Keep your nails at a functional level for your lifestyle to avoid breaking them
- If a nail is broken, file it down to keep it from snagging or breaking even further down the nail plate.
As you can see, there are as many tips for growing nails as there are reasons that your nails won’t grow. Remember that healthy nails should be strong and neutral colored, not brittle, flaking, yellowed or overly flexible. If you have any issues with your fingernails, you should address them as soon as possible, so the problem doesn’t get worse. Taking proper care of your nails routinely is an important step in your beauty regimen, just like skin care or hair care.