Our nails endure a lot of stress and strain on a daily basis due to our constant use of our hands to perform various activities. Since our nails are noticeably visible to others, many people enjoy decorating and flaunting them. This is evident from a study conducted in 2020 by the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, which found that 85%-90% of women worldwide use some form of nail care product. In addition, the nail cosmetics industry in the United States alone was valued at $8.36 billion in 2018. This indicates that most people place great importance on their nail appearance and strive to maintain their nail health.
Healthline suggests that the condition of our nails can give us indications related to our health. If there are visible ridges, deformities or abnormal colorations, medical attention should be sought. It is common for a large majority of individuals, around 99%, to experience nail disorders at some point in their life. In case your nails appear healthy but grow at a very slow pace, we are available to assist you.
How fast are nails supposed to grow?
To fully understand how to quicken nail growth, it’s important to recognize the natural rate at which nails grow. Though growth can vary depending on a person’s age, genetics, and lifestyle, the average nail growth speed is about three to four millimeters per month, according to Today. It’s worth noting that toenails have a slower natural growth rate than fingernails, only growing at a rate of approximately one millimeter each month. If you find that your fingernails and toenails are growing at a similar pace, it may be due to a lack of necessary vitamins such as B12, Calcium, Vitamin C, or Iron. David E. Bank, M.D., FAAD, explained to Today that lower levels of these vitamins could contribute to a reduction in growth rate.
Dr. Noelani Gonzelez, the director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, states that nail growth can be impacted by various medical conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, as well as infections, and certain medications or drugs. She points out that the growth of nails can also be influenced by the season.
What are the causes of unhealthy nails?
According to Healthline, there are several causes of unhealthy nails, which may include taking certain medications, not consuming enough essential nutrients in your diet, or underlying health conditions. Hormones may also influence the growth of nails, as women tend to have slower-growing nails compared to men, while pregnant women may notice faster nail growth. Indicators of unhealthy nails include slow growth, changes in color, separation from skin, thickening, alteration of shape, bleeding, and swelling. If any of these symptoms occur, it is essential to seek medical attention to rule out potentially serious underlying conditions.
Prevention was informed by Cynthia Bailey, M.D., FAAD that the condition of your nails can be affected by the environment, and dry weather can have a negative impact on their growth, as it does to your skin. The outer layer of skin cells is also the same for the nails, just with more hardening, which means they have similar requirements and characteristics. Therefore, your nails may need extra care despite your good physical health. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to encourage the growth of your nails. Discover nine tips below to ensure your next manicure looks even better.
Eat a healthy diet
According to Dermatologist Oma N. Agbai, what you eat has a significant impact on the growth of your nails. If you don’t consume enough nutritious foods, your nail growth could slow down. Agbai suggests having a well-balanced diet that includes foods high in protein, as well as plant-based meals containing vegetables and fruits. It is essential to consume a variety of foods such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and colorful fruits and vegetables to get the necessary nutrients for healthy nail growth.
Agbai’s perspectives are supported by other experts. According to professional nail artist Syreeta Aaron, protein is crucial in promoting nail growth, and ensuring your body receives all necessary vitamins is also essential. By consuming vitamins and maintaining a healthy diet, you can enhance conditioning from within, contributing to the growth of your nails. Tyler Hollmig, M.D., suggests that individuals who want to speed up nail growth should focus on consuming foods that contain cysteine, folate, biotin, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C – going into deeper detail.
Take supplements to strengthen nails
If you want to enhance nail growth, you can supplement your healthy diet with certain vitamins. Biotin, which is known for promoting hair growth, is also beneficial for strengthening nails, as per the National Institutes of Health. Therefore, weak and fragile nails will no longer hinder you from achieving the desired length.
Collagen can be considered as a supplement option. According to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2017, taking collagen once a day for 24 weeks has shown the potential to accelerate nail growth. It also helps in preventing nail breakage, which was observed four weeks after starting the collagen supplement. On the other hand, Byrdie suggests that a keratin supplement is also beneficial as nails are primarily made up of keratin. It can strengthen your nails and make them less prone to damage. Keratin can be ingested orally or applied topically as a nail treatment.
According to Cosmopolitan, taking iron supplements can aid in the growth of stronger, longer, and healthier nails. It is recommended to consult with a doctor if you suspect a deficiency in iron and they can suggest the appropriate amount of iron supplement to consume.
Reassess salon manicures
It is true that manicures can enhance our appearance and help to boost our self-esteem. However, it should be noted that they can also impede nail growth. Medical News Today reports that nail spa facilities can provide a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria that is responsible for nail infections, especially when the workers do not sanitize their tools between clients. In addition, some technicians may trim the cuticles excessively, allowing bacteria to penetrate the nail bed and potentially causing harm.
It is possible that you are allergic to the nail polish used by the salon, even if you are unaware of it. According to Chris G. Adigun, a dermatologist certified by the American Board of Dermatology, such an allergy can result in cracked and peeling nails. Formaldehyde resin and tosylamide, commonly present in nail polish and nail hardeners, are the most likely causes of this reaction. If you believe that opting for a gel manicure is a good idea, thinking it will be kinder to your nails, you may need to reconsider. Gel manicures can cause peeling, cracking, and brittleness of the nails. Moreover, Adigun cautions that frequent exposure to UV radiation in such settings can increase the risk of skin cancer and lead to early aging of the hands.
Adigun advises that if you can’t do without a manicure, choose a 5-free nail polish brand that doesn’t have damaging chemicals which can cause harm to your nails. Prior to scheduling an appointment, it is important to check out reviews from previous customers, and during the manicure, don’t hesitate to inform the technician to stop if it starts to hurt.
Consider a nail-hardening product
If your nails keep breaking, it may be time to consider using a nail hardener. These products toughen and fortify your nails by bonding with the natural protein in them. Ethyl acetate is a crucial component of a good quality nail hardener, and it may also include calcium and nail conditioners to strengthen and add structure to soft or brittle nails. These insights come from experts in the field, including manicurist Gina Edwards and celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann.
Knowing that all nail hardeners are not created equal, it is crucial to look at the list of ingredients before purchasing any. Dana Stern, a certified dermatologist and nail specialist, cautions that some nail hardening products contain harmful substances like formalin or formaldehyde, which can actually damage the nails instead of making them stronger. Though formaldehyde initially strengthens the nails, over time, the nails become fragile and may even lift or detach from the nail bed. Additionally, there are concerns about these ingredients’ association with cancer, so it is best to avoid any products containing them.
Apply cuticle oil regularly
According to Ama Quashie, a manicurist interviewed by Elle, cuticle oils play a crucial role in nail care as they keep the cuticle and nail bed hydrated, just like how the skin needs constant hydration to stay healthy. Cuticle oils containing sweet almond oil, as noted by Sonia Hully, the founder of Nailberry in an interview with Byrdie, have healing properties that do not leave a greasy residue and can also help strengthen nails. By keeping the skin and nails flexible, cuticle oils can prevent hangnails and nail breakage, as explained by Hully. Additionally, cuticle oils can make manicures appear more luxurious with added shine and also work to prevent chips and cracks, ultimately prolonging the lifespan of the manicure.
Cuticle oil is a necessary remedy for nails that are brittle and dry, and it is additionally fundamental when seeking to expedite the growth of one’s nails. Cuticle oil can facilitate the progression of nail growth because it aids in the recovery of damages sustained previously while also preventing any possible harm in the future. When you apply cuticle oil to your nails, you heighten the flow of blood in that area, which could also potentially enhance the rate at which they grow. A renowned manicurist, Michelle Saunders, asserts that cuticle oil is instrumental in impeding individuals from biting or ripping off their nails. Healthline advises using items that contain natural oils such as jojoba, safflower, and flaxseed.
Don’t bite or pick at your nails
According to dermatologists Chris G. Adigun, M.D., FAAD and Amy Wechsler, regularly biting and picking at your nails may hinder their growth, as will continually pushing back your cuticles. Breaking this habit may be difficult for some individuals. One suggestion is to make accessing your nails more difficult by covering up areas prone to picking with a Band-Aid. Adigun recommends identifying triggers that lead to nail biting and avoiding them. Additionally, applying hand cream or cuticle oil can make biting or fidgeting less appealing by preventing dry patches of skin. Despite occasionally resulting in multiple Band-Aids, this practice can promote healing.
If it seems like you have tried every possible solution for stopping nail biting, you can consider using bitter nail polish which has such a nasty taste that you will surely think twice about biting your nails. In case you discover that you are immune to the bitter taste, it’s recommended to follow Wechsler’s suggestion and cover your fingers with a bandage as it is important for your nail growth.
Practice good nail hygiene
Ensuring good hygiene for your nails is an additional approach to enhance their growth rate. In addition to benefiting from internal health, external nail care can also be effective in promoting growth.
According to board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D., common problems such as brittleness and damaged cuticles can be avoided if you take the time to give your nails some extra care. It is important to care for the entire nail area if you want your nails to remain healthy. This involves regularly filing and trimming your nails, as well as cleaning underneath them gently on a regular basis. Session manicurist Ami Streets suggests that it is worth investing in good quality tools like soft nail files, as they prevent tearing and splitting of the nails. She also advises that professional products are more durable and effective in providing the best finish.
According to Streets, proper technique is crucial while filing nails in order to prevent any harm. To avoid nails from breaking or splintering, she suggests filing in a single direction with soft and gentle strokes.
Switch to a less damaging nail polish and remover
Given that nail polish stays on for prolonged periods of time, it is imperative to use products that do not harm your nails further. MindBodyGreen emphasizes that nail polishes containing toluene, formaldehyde, and camphor cause nails to dry out. It is typically advisable to use a 7-free or higher nail polish when you intend on having your nails painted almost constantly. The application of base and top coats also follows the same rule. While a 7-free or higher nail polish may not be available in your preferred color, you can instead choose a base coat that does not contain any of these drying substances.
Selecting natural polishes is important for healthier and faster nail growth, but using tough nail polish removers can counteract your efforts. To maintain strong nails, sundays’ founder Amy Lin advised against using 100% acetone removers and recommended looking for removers with components that moisturize and cleanse nails. Soy-based alternatives are effective since they dissolve nail polish while enhancing the nail’s strength. These products also generally incorporate assorted hydrating elements and vitamins to help keep your nails as healthy as possible.
Pay attention to how you groom your nails
The way you take care of your nails can affect their growth rate, says Medical News Today. If you shape your nails into a square or round shape, you can prevent common nail issues and protect your nails from breakage and snagging. Consistent nail grooming can also eliminate the urge to bite or pick at them, leading to faster nail growth. Additionally, when you massage your nails during grooming, you improve blood circulation, which strengthens and promotes nail growth. This can be particularly beneficial for toenails that are often susceptible to problems, especially if you have a medical condition like diabetes causing poor circulation.
Finally, make sure to learn the correct way of removing your cuticles. It is best to avoid removing them altogether, but if necessary, use a pushing motion instead of cutting. Trimming them too closely can have negative effects, such as hindering nail growth. Shortened cuticles can expose the nail bed and matrix, putting your nails at risk for infections and injuries. Instead, keep your cuticles moisturized and refrain from cutting them.