How to Grow Strong and Long Nails

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One of the most common questions I receive is how to get long and strong nails. I also see this question asked frequently in Facebook groups. This article will explain what has worked extremely well for me and others. However, keep in mind that each person’s body chemistry, genes, and lifestyle are different. It’s important to experiment and figure out what combination of the follow tips will work best for you!

Here’s the short answer: Use a jojoba-based nail oil, eat right, and be careful with your nails.

Here’s the long answer:

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The #1 Way to Get Stronger, Longer Nails

Oil! Oil! Oil!

According to Ana at myblisskiss.com, oil is the glue that holds the layers of your nail together. She has thoroughly studied Doug Schoon’s book, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, which I am now in the process of reading. Your nails are made of about 100 of layers of keratin and oil is what keeps them together. When your nails get too dry (not enough oil), then the layers start to peel apart. By the way….oil is also the solution to peeling nails. ;) With peeling, come breaks! The fewer layers you have at the tips of your nails, the easier they will break!

Here are my nails from three years ago. You can see I had short nails and terrible cuticles. (Not to mention terrible photography!)

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(It still pains me to look at this picture…)

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In an effort to help my poor, destroyed nails, I bought some Duri Rejuvocate.  Duri made my nails worse!! In fact, I first discovered myblisskiss.com when I Googled “Duri Rejuvocate reviews”. That day changed my life! I immediately purchased Ana’s jojoba oil based Pure Nail Oil and did the three day go naked challenge. (Basically, you go without polish for three days *insert gasps here* and oil your nails whenever they look dry. For me, that was like every hour.)

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I’m sure you’re familiar with how my nails and cuticles look now, but here is a picture to refresh your memory. ;) (Please note that I don’t Photoshop my pictures. I don’t own Photoshop…so I just crop and wordmark and I’m done.)

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To this day, I am still shocked at the difference this one little change made. I can’t recommend a jojoba-based oil enough! Keep in mind that it takes 4-9 months for your nails to grow out so if you start using oil today, the real benefits won’t be seen for a while. Your cuticles will have quick improvement, but fixing the peeling and breaking will take longer. It’s WELL worth the wait. Trust me.

Want long nails? Take care of your body!

In other words…eat healthy! When I’m eating right, I notice a huge difference in my nail strength and growth. And it makes sense! If your body is getting the right nutrients, then it will have spare ‘supplies’ to make better nails. As an added bonus, my hair also starts to look fantastic when I’m eating right. Hmmm….I think it’s time to start eating right again! LOL. I’ve kinda fallen off the wagon this past year…but I don’t want my nails and hair to look bad! Not to mention my waistline! :P

When I’m eating right, my nails break less often and I see less hair in the shower drain! As I mentioned above, it takes 4-9 months for your nails to grow out so if you start eating better now, your nails will see the benefits in a few months. Again…well worth the wait! Plus, the other benefits of eating better will be worth it, too. :)

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Sometimes people will recommend taking an additional biotin supplement. I have tried this and it didn’t make a difference for me, but if it’s ok with your doctor, then you might as well try it!

Don’t Open That Jar! Nails are Jewels, Not Tools

When I was at my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving last year, there was a lid stuck on a jar. It was one of those mason jars where you have the metal circle and then a separate piece that screws on and holds the metal circle on top of the jar.

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The metal circle was stuck on the jar. She holds the jar out to me and says, “You have long nails. See if you can pry the lid off.” My response?
“The reason I have long nails is because I don’t do stuff like that!” Then, I handed her a butter knife. :)

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Nails will break enough on accident….we don’t need to help them break by abusing them! Don’t pick at things or pry things open with your nails. One of my favorite tools is tweezers. I will frequently grab my tweezers to peel stickers off things (usually price tags on nail polish…) rather than using my nail to scrape it off.

Also, in general, move with care. Most of my nail breaks have happened when I’m moving in a hurry and I jab my hand into a drawer or the car door and I break at least two nails! Take a breath. Slow down. Spare your nails. ;) (One time, I tripped and fell while walking my dogs and broke four nails on my right hand!!! It was traumatic!)

Gloves are Your Best Friend

Wear gloves when doing housework and dishes! Especially dishes! According to Ana, water is the worst chemical for your nails!! What?! That sounds crazy, right? But what happens is that the water gets between the layers of your nail and separates them, causing peeling! As we learned above, peeling is bad, bad, bad and will lead to weak nails and breaks.

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(Snow White should be wearing gloves!)
One of my favorite routines is to come home after work, remove my nail polish, slather oil on my fingertips, and then slap on some gloves and do the dishes! The oil gets warm because of the hot water and it gives it some time to soak into my nails before I do another manicure. It feels great and my nails look great! (And I’m happy because the dishes are done!)

These are my favorite gloves of all time:

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I have two pairs of these gloves – one is used exclusively for doing dishes and the other is used for when I’m cleaning with chemicals. (Like in the bathroom, for example.)

Should You Use a Nail Strengthener?

In my opinion, nail strengtheners (think Duri Rejuvocate or OPI Nail Envy) are some of the most over-recommended treatments for helping nail problems. Take a moment to think about it…

Is strength really what you want? If your nails are too strong, that might sound great….but that also means they don’t flex. At all. Ergo, when you accidentally jab your nail into the cupboard door, it’s going to break. Because it’s too strong to bend. You want your nails to bend! I know. It sounds super weird. But it also kind makes sense, doesn’t it? You want your nails strong, long, and flexible.

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Image from: http://design.tutsplus.com

 

I would only recommend a nail strengthener as a last resort. That means you’d have to try my other advice for a minimum of 6 months. If you’ve honestly tried and your nails still are breaking and peeling all the time, then maybe try a strengthener. In my experience, you won’t need to. Strengtheners are a great marketing idea but it’s just not practical for reality and they’re definitely not for everyone.

As long as I’m ranting…nails don’t need to breath. I’ve worn nail polish every day since March 2012 (when I had surgery and couldn’t). To this day, my nails have yet to suffocate and turn blue and fall off. ;) Nails are dead. Dead things don’t breath. End of rant. :)

Follow this advice and pretty soon, your nails will be long, strong, flexible, and beautiful! Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions in the comments and I’ll answer them as fast as I can!

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Author: Anne Smith

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!