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How to Hydrate and Moisturize Dry, Brittle Nails

Having dry, brittle nails can be frustrating. No matter how much nail polish we apply, within a day or two unsightly cracks and chips appear, leaving our nails looking damaged. While there are salon treatments that can help strengthen nails, the results are often temporary. The good news is there are simple, natural ways to add moisture and flexibility back into dry, brittle nails for the long term.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Before we get into solutions, it’s important to understand what causes nails to become dry and brittle in the first place. There are a few key culprits:

  • Overexposure to water – Household chores and frequent handwashing can strip nails of their natural moisture overtime.
  • Harsh products – Ingredients in cleaning supplies, solvents and even nail polish remover can dry out and weaken nails.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Low intake of certain vitamins and minerals over time impacts nail health and flexibility.
  • Age and genetics – Nails naturally thin out and lose elasticity as we get older. Some people are just prone to brittle nails.

While we can’t change our age or genetics, avoiding damage from water and chemicals along with providing more nail-healthy nutrients can make a big difference.

First Line of Defense: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

One of the best ways to combat dry, brittle nails is keeping them constantly coated in rich, nourishing moisture. Think of it like maintaining well-hydrated skin. Making moisture part of our regular nail care routine protects and repairs.

All-Natural Oils

Plant-based oils like olive, coconut, avocado and vitamin E oil are absorbed well by dry nails and work wonders. Gently massage a few drops into each nail and cuticle daily focusing any extremely damaged areas. The vitamins and fatty acids help strengthen nails over time. For deeper penetration, apply oil to clean nails and let sit covered in cotton gloves overnight while you sleep.

Heavy Duty Hand Creams

Look for hand creams that contain natural butters and waxes to seal in long-lasting moisture. Shea butter, cocoa butter and beeswax are ultra-hydrating. Massage into nails and cuticles thoroughly focusing on any cracked or peeling areas until fully absorbed. Reapply after each handwashing for added protection throughout the day.

Soothing Soaks

Give your nails a hydration boost by soaking them 10 minutes a day. Add a few tablespoons of oil like olive or coconut to a bowl of warm water along with moisturizers like whole milk, honey, oatmeal or aloe vera gel. The oils and humectants infuse deep hydration while the moisture plumps up the nail surface.

Diet and Supplements for Healthy Nails

Without proper nutrients, our nail cells have trouble developing into strong, flexible layers. Making sure we consume enough of the right vitamins and minerals impacts their structure overtime.

Biotin Boost

One of the most important supplements for healthy nails is biotin. Various studies show taking 2.5mg of biotin per day over at least 6 months can significantly increase nail thickness and prevent cracking in those deficient. Food sources include whole grains, liver, egg yolks, soybeans and nuts.

Antioxidant Powerhouses

Vitamins C, E and A prevent free radical damage which can weaken nails. Citrus fruits, leafy greens, nuts and seeds are excellent sources. Silica-rich foods like onions, leeks and cucumbers also improve nail strength and shine.

Zinc, Iron and Selenium

These trace minerals play key roles in proper nail cell function and growth. Lentils, cashews, spinach and shrimp supply healthy amounts of all three. Even small daily deficiencies can accumulate over time leading to slowed growth and increased brittleness.

Additional Tips for Strengthening Nails

  • Wear rubber gloves – This protects hands from excessive water, soap and chemicals during cleaning, yard work and other wet tasks.
  • Avoid or limit gel manicures – While beautiful, the UV setting process causes cumulative damage weakening nails long term.
  • Swap out harsh nail polishes – Try high quality nail polish without the most drying chemicals.
  • File correctly – Filing nails straight across stresses the edges. File gently in one direction at a slight curve.
  • Take biotin supplements – If diet doesn’t provide enough, take 2.5mg of biotin per day to prevent brittle nails.

Keeping nails constantly conditioned plus providing more moisture-enhancing nutrients can transform even the driest, most fragile nails. Be patient as it takes 4-6 months for nails to grow out and show improvement. With a little attentive care though, you’ll soon be sporting strong, healthy beautiful nails.

 

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