Are your nails growing at a snail’s pace? Or were they once long and strong, but seem to have diminished? You might be guilty of one or more of these bad nail behaviours. Yes, most of us use our hands every day, so a little breakage and tearing is normal. But paying just a smidge more attention to your habits could get you about a million steps closer to that dream mani…
#1 Toxic chemicals
You probably already use a hand cream (10 beauty points for you!), but some household cleaning products can expose your nails to nasty toxins, causing dryness and cracking and undoing all your good work. To prevent this, wear gloves – or alternatively, use natural cleaning products such as tea tree oil. Some nail polishes can also be aggravating. If you have weak nails to begin with, boost their health by using Breathable nail polish and 3-free nail polishes.
#2 Improper usage
Whether you’re wrestling keys off a key ring or jimmying open a jar, using your nails in place of proper utensils (think: scissors, cutlery) can result in fissures, chipping and slow nail growth. So, if you want your nails to look good, you have to stop using them as tools! Painting them with a pretty polish should help the process: we love the glossy Sea Siren Cosmetics Coral Atoll as well as the trendy essie Colors of Couture Collection.
#3 Nail biting
Ok, this one’s a bit obvious, but biting your nails can seriously worsen their condition. Yes, that snag or hanging nail is super annoying, but instead of biting it off, make the extra effort to use a nail clipper or file (keep a cute one such as COLOUR By TBN Nail Files in your bag so you don’t get caught out). Once you break your nail biting habit, you’ll start to see a positive change in the growth and appearance of your digits, guaranteed.
#4 Lazy polish removal
You’re probably really careful when applying nail polish, but do you show your nails the same courtesy when it comes to getting it off? Picking away at your old nail polish can aggravate the nail bed, leading to damage. If your polish is lifting prematurely (and tempting you to peel it), try using less lacquer – multiple, thin coats will last a lot longer than one thick one. When it’s finally time to take it off, use a gentle nail polish remover such as Manicare Nail Polish Remover – Extra Gentle and a cotton pad (I like Swisspers Make-Up Pads). Your nails will thank you for it.
#5 Your work environment
Certain work discourages nails from growing. For example, any job that involves placing your hands in water for extended periods can make nails soft and prone to breakage. Similarly, hands-on labour (like construction work) can lead to continuous snagging and tearing. Once again, wearing gloves is the best way to minimise the damage.
#6 Your fitness routine
If your toenails keep breaking, consider whether you’re walking or running too much. Nobody wants super-long toenails (and I’m definitely not suggesting you stop exercising), but to help prevent them from snapping off entirely, make sure your runners have enough wiggling room at the front.
#7 Bad nutrition
A nutritious diet can affect the growth of your nails a lot more than you might think. Failing to consume a good variety of nutrients, particularly iron, zinc and protein, can make your nails brittle. So eat nail-nurturing foods such as beans, broccoli and red meat. Reducing your sugar intake is also a good idea.
#8 An underlying health condition
Some underlying health conditions can cause your nails grief. Heart, liver and lung illnesses as well as fungal infections may make the base of your nails weaker. Overactive thyroid glands can also cause your nails to break. If you think you could be experiencing an underlying health issue, consult your GP.
We already know stress can make you physically unwell, but did you know brittle, peeling nails are also a common side effect? This is because your body is busy concentrating on recovery and healing – so nail growth becomes a low-level priority. To nip your anxiety in the bud (and prevent it taking a toll on your talons), take a look at our 8 top ways to beat stress.
Do you have a problem with slow-growing nails? What are your best nail care tips?