Dry, brittle, and cracked nails happen for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with your daily habits. To determine the cause of your nail issues, first ask yourself the following questions:
- How often do you clip or file your nails?
- Do you bite your nails?
- How do you keep your hands moisturized?
- How often do you polish and remove polish from your nails?
- How much time do you spend with your hands in water per day?
Diet and Nail Health
If your nails are brittle and flaky, you may need more essential fatty acids in your diet. You can incorporate more of these in your meals by eating fish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and primrose oil. If your nails have white spots, this may indicate a zinc deficiency in your diet. Try eating more root vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and shellfish to boost your zinc intake.
Many people find that taking 300 micrograms of biotin, which is a B vitamin, four to six times per day with food helps boost nail health as well. Other holistic professionals recommend drinking horsetail or nettle tea on a daily basis, as these herbs are high in silica and other minerals that stimulate nail growth. Always choose a high-quality hair, skin, and nails supplement that also contain significant amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
Natural Remedies for Brittle Nails
One of the most popular brittle nail remedies involves a teaspoon of pure olive oil mixed with a few drops of lemon juice. Simply massage the mixture into your nails twice a week and slip on soft gloves to let the mixture work its magic overnight. Another natural home remedy involves a teaspoon of tea tree oil and a couple drops of vitamin E. This mixture is known to promote nail strength and fight nail fungus.
Pick up some vitamin E capsules at your favorite health food store and massage a few drops into each nail. You can also try mixing two teaspoons of finely-ground sea salt with a couple drops of lemon oil, frankincense oil, or wheat germ oil. Pour the oil mixture into some warm water and let your hands soak for 15 minutes. If you don’t have these products on hand, simply massage a small amount of moisturizing cream or vegetable oil into each nail bed to soften your cuticles, strengthen nails, and improve blood circulation.
Practical Tips for Healthy Nails
- Avoid artificial nails, as they are the most common cause of nail fungus in women
- Don’t clip your cuticles, which serve as a protective barrier against fungi and bacteria
- File your nails in a single direction with a non-metal emery board
- Protect your nails by wearing gloves when you wash dishes and perform other household tasks
- Rub petroleum jelly or thick moisturizing cream into your nails at bedtime, then slip on a pair of thin cotton gloves
- Nail weakness can be caused by other medical conditions, so consult a doctor if nail issues persist.