How can I strengthen my nails for guitar?

I am teaching myself Flamenco and my nails are taking a beating, how can I strengthen them to stand up to Flamenco playing? I really don’t like the idea of nail polish, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to seal up a nail like that, there must be other ways to get seriously strong nails. Suggestions?

Head over to the Acoustic Guitar Forum and search on “fingernails” - that message board is mainly for steel strings, but the fingernail advice is useful for all types…

To my knowledge, folks try a variety of different methods - acrylic tips, polish, just taking extra care, etc. You have to decide what works for you. I use my fingertips without nails when I pluck some strings on my guitars, but don’t play enough for it to lead to wear issues…

I am prone to weird skin infections in my fingers and fingernails so I take Biotin-a dietary supplement that is supposed to be good for stronger fingernails. I’ve been taking it for about 4 years now and I do notice my fingernails are stronger than they used to be.

My friends who have babies tell me the pre-natal vitamins are really good for hair and nail growth. I don’t know how quick it is, but you might start on them now and see what your nails are like in 6 months.

Yup. I’m not sure which element of the vitamins do it. Regular vitamins may work equally well. I’m currently taking pre-natals and I have to clip my nails when they get too long, about every two weeks or so.

I’ll vouch for biotin as well. I took one or two every damn day at first and wowza did it make a difference! Now I take a few a week, as sort of a maintenance dosage.
Good: nails don’t split
Bad: gotta shave more often

It seems to affect ALL keratin-based things: hair, nail, and skin.

Biotin’s probably cheap and easy to find, but if it’s not, see if you can find gelatin capsules at the dollar store. I tried those once and holy CRAP did they work!! And I have the worst nails in the world.

Some advocate avoiding soaking them in water as much as possible, so wearing rubber gloves when you wash dishes etc.

This sounds weird, but…I’ve been trying to figure out why my nails are suddenly SO strong, stronger than they have ever been. I figured it was because I changed my multivitamin to a liquid capsule form; pill form always made me barf, so I’d skip it half the time. But I see that the vitamin only has 10% RDD of biotin, so if that’s it, it can’t be helping that much.

Anyway, I just remembered something because of your post: about 3 weeks ago I started using the Dawn with Olay dishwashing liquid, after visiting my mom and noticing that she used it and my hands actually DID feel nice after dishes.

So…maybe it’s good for nails, too!! :smiley: (Kinda doubt it, but it’s a thought)

There are products that claim to strengthen nails, yet aren’t nail polishes. And yep, they’re in the nail care section.

There are also products that strengthen hooves, which you buy at feed stores. You don’t have to turn in your man card if you shop at feed stores, in fact, you get your man card stamped each time you go, even if you just go in the spring to look at the cute little bunnies and chicks and ducklings. I stay OUT of the feed stores during that season, because I always want to buy a dozen of each. Never mind that I have no idea of how to care for them, they are all so adorable. And fuzzy.

I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in my nails since I started adding flax seed oil (2 teaspoons) daily to my diet. It’s good for your cholesterol and heart health as well.

Thanks for the suggestions.

I went out and got some biotin, but it’s such a small little tablet, will it really do anything?

Also got some Sally Hanson hydrating nail wonder something, my playing nails looked better immediately after using it. The girl there recommended a nail hardener, but I just don’t like the one line on the package that goes “use wonder xyz for strong nails, but remove it in 3 days OR ELSE!!!” So I went with the hydrater strengthener goop.

And as for my man card, in the nail care isle, well I’m sure my beautiful rasgueado’s will more than make up for it.

Indeed. Best of luck.

Classical guitar player here. I’m fortunate to have strong nails so I’ve never used any of the food supplements or brush on stuff.

Keep the nails filed smooth so they don’t catch on things. Over the years it has become natural for me to do things like flipping light switches and pulling zippers with a knuckle or side of finger rather than sticking out that important “i” nail.

What does it do to the skin?

My nails used to be fabulous, but they’re getting softer, mostly on one hand. I’ve got one that I have to keep short because it bends painfully all the time.

I’ll vouch for the biotin, too. Chlorinated pool water was destroying my nails, now they’re good. Hair may be more glossy, or that may just be the chlorine buildup. Haven’t noticed any effect on beard or skin.

I have to say, that hoof stuff does even better than the biotin. Back when I was a young lad, spending 4-6+ hours in the pool each day, I don’t think I’d’ve had any nails without that stuff. And my flowing mane looked fabulous (and it needed to: it was the 80s).

May be more expensive than biotin, though (been a while since I bought it).

If I guessed your sex wrong, then I apologize.

Thanks for that link.

I’ve posted the same question there; in case anyone might be interested to see what they say:

Why don’t you buy some finger picks, the look like rings that attach to your first knuckle and go over your nails. Any music shop should have them, but I find that the guitar sounds better when you focus on using the pads of the finger unless you are reverse burst stroking the strings

Arcangel, that was a brilliant suggestion, I completely forgot I had those and didn’t think to use them for Flamenco (probably because I haven’t seen it done like that), I put on the thumb pick and ka-blammo, I could attack the strings as hard as I wanted for over an hour.


Is it still Flamenco if you use fingerpicks? Is one disqualified from “flamenco player” to “some guy wailing on his guitar with fingerpicks-look-at-that-hahaha” if you’re not using fingertips?

Either way, now it’s really sounding right, and I still have a usable thumb-nail so thanks :smiley: