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What Causes Weak, Brittle Nails?

Do you have weak nails that break too readily? Find out what causes this problem and how to correct it.

Are you tired of having weak, brittle nails that break when you do the dishes? There’s no shortage of products on the market to strengthen nails and reduce splitting and breakage; but how well do these products really work? Is it even possible to make nails stronger?

What Causes Weak Nails?

If you have weak nails, you can blame it partially on your mom and dad. Weak nails are genetic to some degree, and some people naturally have tougher, stronger nails. There’s not a lot you can do about that; but be sure you’re not contributing to the problem by eating a poor diet.

Fingernails are made of a protein called keratin, so protein malnutrition can cause weak nails – as can certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies – such as a lack of B vitamins and zinc. Occasionally, a medical problem such as an underactive thyroid causes nails to be brittle. It’s a good idea to have a blood test to rule out these problems.

To Make Nails Stronger, Stop Using Nail Polish Remover

Some people indirectly contribute to the problem of weak nails by exposing their hands to harsh detergents and chemicals. One of the biggest problems people have is overusing nail polish removal products. Nail polish remover weakens the nail plate which causes the entire nail to grow in weaker. Nail polish removers are also too drying. If you have to use one, look for one that’s acetone-free.

What Can You Do to Make Nails Stronger?

Some people drink gelatin in hopes of strengthening their nails, but there’s little evidence to support its benefits. How about vitamins? Taking mega-doses of biotin had some benefit in a Swiss study, but the amounts needed to strengthen the nail were quite high.

The Power of Moisture to Strengthen Brittle Nails

If fingernails are weak and brittle, adding moisture helps. One of the best ways to reduce splitting is to apply petroleum jelly to the hands, put on a pair of cotton gloves, and leave them on overnight. Soaking the fingernails in almond oil or olive oil also helps moisturize the nail and reduce brittleness.

What about Commercial Nail Hardeners to Strengthen Nails?

Don’t waste your money. Some of these products dry out fingernails and make the problem worse. Eat a healthy diet that has enough high quality protein and keep your fingernails well moisturized. Fingernails need a break from nail polish and nail polish remover – so give them one as often as possible. Do this consistently and your nails should be less prone to weakness, splitting, and breakage.

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  1. I’ve always had soft nails and cannot grow longer fingernails, without bending, tearing or breaking. I’ve tried all the tricks, to no avail–still no longer fingernails.

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