We’ve all been there. You just finished letting your nails air-dry after putting on a few coats of polish, you go to grab something, and SNAP! Half your nail cracks right off, leaving you with a jagged stump where your perfect manicure was supposed to be.
To figure out what went wrong, be honest about why you painted your nails in the first place. Was it just a fashion choice? Or are you in the habit of using polish to cover the brittle and flexible nails underneath?
Getting to the Root of Your Nail Problems
You may be relying on polish or artificial nails to bring your nails back to life, but that’s really not a sustainable solution. Back-to-back manicures can actually stifle nail growth – or at the very least, prevent you from seeing the true state of your nails – and if you’ve ever tried to pop an acrylic nail off your finger once it starts to lift, you know the type of damage it can do.
A better solution is to nurture your nails from the inside out. And like most other things, your nails change depending on the food you put in your body.
Where Nails Get Their Strength
Your nails are directly nourished by your blood. Having a diet chock-full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients is necessary for your overall health and may improve the strength of your nails as well.
Fortunately, around 90 percent of Americans get enough vitamins and minerals overall.¹ However, the rates of vitamin and mineral deficiency fluctuate among certain demographic groups depending on factors like age, sex, and race. This means some people are more at risk of vitamin deficiency than others, making them more susceptible to negative health effects like weak nails.
How Vitamins and Minerals Do (And Don’t) Affect Nails
While the effects of vitamins and minerals on nail health are largely exaggerated (or nonexistent), a few nutrients may make a difference.
Biotin (Vitamin H): Lots of people swear by biotin, saying it makes their nails and hair grow stronger, thicker and faster. However, the scientific evidence is scant and dated. Biotin may work for people who have brittle nail syndrome or a biotin deficiency, but such a deficiency is exceedingly rare.
Iron: Iron deficiency anemia, one of the more common vitamin deficiencies, can sometimes cause brittle nails or a condition known as “spoon nails” (koilonychia). Spoon nails look like your nail is indented downward, almost like a little bowl or spoon. To fix iron deficiency, you can increase the amount of meat – especially red meat – seafood, beans and leafy greens in your diet. You may also need to begin taking a daily supplement. Increasing your vitamin A or C intake may allow for better iron absorption in your system. It’s always a good idea to consult with your physician before making drastic changes to your diet or taking a supplement, especially if you believe you may be suffering from a nutrition deficiency.
Some beauty websites claim that any number of vitamins and minerals improve nail health, from vitamin B12 to calcium. While these nutrients likely have some minor effect on nail growth, there is insufficient evidence that nail problems are usually cured by taking vitamin supplements. In fact, overdosing on some vitamins and minerals, like selenium, can actually cause nail loss!
Instead, many nail problems are simply caused by improper nail care. All of the following can weaken nails:
- Biting, picking or ripping your nails and cuticles
- Cleaning with chemicals without wearing gloves
- Filing and buffing too frequently or in the wrong direction
- Using your nails to scrape or open items
- Peeling your nail polish
- Wearing overly tight shoes
A Word of Caution
Unless you have an underlying deficiency or medical condition, there probably isn’t much that introducing vitamins or minerals to your diet will do for your nail health. However, if you notice chronically weak or damaged nails, you may want to consult a doctor or tweak your diet to see if a vitamin or mineral deficiency is the cause. Sometimes weak nails are the first symptom of a larger problem like hypothyroidism, so visit your doctor if you suspect a more serious illness.
Remember: there are many vitamin and mineral supplements on the market that claim to strengthen your nails, but proceed with caution. You want to be sure you’ve done your research before wasting $50 on a placebo pill.
Learn All About Nail Health at Houston Training Schools
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about nail health. If you’re passionate about finding effective, evidence-based beauty solutions and helping people look and feel their best, you may want to consider a career in cosmetology.
At Houston Training Schools, we offer four programs, including a Certificate of Cosmetology and a manicuring program, to help you get started in the beauty industry. Our classes will teach you proper nail care, safety protocols, customer service skills and much more. Classes are available in both English and Spanish across several locations in Texas.
To schedule your tour or apply, call us at 877-640-4747 today!