I need girly help. I have crappy nails.

My fingernails are gross. Not gross as in infected with fungus, but gross as in short, stubby and dull. At my job and in my spare time I do a lot of work which is hard on the hands (lifting heavy boxes, painting, sculpting, woodworking) and as a result I rarely am able to keep long nails without completely destroying them. It doesn’t help that I have soft nails, because they constantly split and peel along the side. I can barely grow them beyond the tips of my fingers.

I’ve tried nail strengtheners that you brush on like a polish, and they haven’t done squat. I don’t want to be consigned to wear artificial nails, because of the risk of fungal infection and damage to the natural nail. Is there a solution that anyone knows of to strenthen my nails? Topical or even dietary? I want to have purty hands.

Well, if you’re doing lots of work that’s hard on the hands… you’re not going to get very long nails. Especially as they are soft. Some women can, but you need pretty strong nails. You also don’t want long nails as they can get in the way and it can hurt when they break. You know when a woman wrecks her manicure in the movies? That’s me but 100 times more angry dancing around swearing. If the nail bends wrong it HURTS.

I find what helps is to keep them trimmed neatly. Don’t bother with the nail hardeners, clear polish works just as well. The hardeners just add a layer giving the nail strength allowing it to grow slightly longer, at least that’s what I was told in cosmotology class.

The best I can say would be to invest in (at least once) getting a manicure. Ask what they suggest. You also don’t need long nails to have pretty nails. Get a nail buffer and learn to use it (all it really is is a little roughing up of the nail, it makes it shiny and it looks like you painted with clear polish but it’s all natural.)

Anytime your nails snag or tear, trim them or use a nail file. I prefer one that’s not metal, especially with soft nails. You can find ones that are almost completely smooth and are meant for softer nails so they don’t tear. In fact baby nail files would probably be the absolute best. Carry it in your purse or bag. Once you get used to keeping your nails it will drive you up the wall if you get a rough spot. Or at least that’s what happened to me.

Mainly learn to take care of your nails. They may not necessarily get stronger, but they can still look nice. Experiment with stuff from the nail section of the drug store. Find what works for you.

There is little you can really do as a lot of having hard nails is genetic. Keep your nails short and be thankful for the things you have that are long.

See What are Nails?

Well, I recently went through a situation where almost all my fingernails fell out (!) It took me 3 dermatologists until I could find one who appears to have helped me. They would partially come back, but very brittle and thin. It affected me more than you would ever know - I’m a proctologist (joke.) There were really only two things that worked to strengthen and bring back my nails - they were:

  1. They inject uh… stuff… into the cuticle matrix which is right below the nail - this worked on some and not on others - but the nails that came back were very strong. It was interestingly painful, though - wouldn’t recommend this for the timid since it’s done monthly. Took a while for this to start working, tho.

  2. A topicals for your nails that will keep you from biting them and clean any fungus present - which may be a contributing reason to your nails being brittle

They can also give you something for the nail bed behind the nail - which may be contributing to the nail problems you display. But, I’m not a doctor and if none of this works, my sister swears by gelatin tablets to strengthen and grow nails - and hers are nice enough. Good luck!

(And after all the visits to dermatologists and whatnot, they still aren’t sure why my nails fell out but it wasn’t a fungus either - stress??)

Really Astro?

My nails were pretty bad years ago before I started to take care of them. Somewhat soft, tore all the time… now if I let my nails grow and slap on some polish I have everyone and their dog asking where I got them done (uh… I did it. Yes, these are my real nails. Go away! runs screaming). Of course it could just be the fact that I decided to take care of them that made all the difference.

I second the gelatin, but …

Until I was past 50, my nails were strong - not unbreakable, but quite durable, etc. Then I began to have problems, but the onset was so gradual that I didn’t really realize until one day it dawned on me that none of my nails was strong anymore, and several of them, including my right thumbnail, were subject to frequent vertical/lengthwise cracking/splitting.

First I tried some of the paint-on goop. AAMOF, I tried several different kinds, except for those which include some variant/derivative of formaldehyde. Formalin variants are mutagens! Given continuous use, they can be carcinogenic. It ain’t worth it, trust me. :slight_smile:

I began using vitamin E hand lotions or creams every night. And it did help some. I strongly recommend this. I don’t think you can get a hand lotion/cream with both collagen and E, but if you can find one, use it! Otherwise, try both, and see which gives you better results. I am religious about the use of cream or lotion on my hands (with special attention to the more vulnerable nails), and it helps. But it’s not enough for me, and probably will not be enough for the OP - or anyone else who has this problem to a serious degree.

For any person who, like the OP subjects their hands to daily abuse, I recommend also getting a pair of white cotton gloves. After applying cream/lotion to your hands at bedtime, put on the gloves and sleep in them. Sterile plastic or rubber gloves would also work, except that it would probably make the user’s hands sweat, and might even induce sufficient discomfort to wake one up.

Some months after I began using the creams, something came floating up from the depths of memory. I recalled that when I was a teen, and girls were having trouble with their nails, they would buy Knox Gelatin (a pure, unflavored relative of Jello[sup]TM[/sup] made from bovine sources, and therefore illegal for those who keep kosher; dunno about hallal), dissolve it, and drink it. The ones who tried it swore by it. And I recalled having seen gelatin capsules in the vitamin & supplement aisles. So I started taking it (in addition to the nightly thorough creaming), and it did help … some.

About two years ago my pain doctor told me to start taking glucosamine (for my joints). Only a couple of months after I started that, I began to see a larger improvement in my nails. I don’t know if there is any reason why a person should not take glucosamine for this reason (AAMOF, I’d think that anyone who, for work or play, engages in strenuous physical activity would find it helpful to be taking this; there is medical evidence of its usefulness in rebuilding joint cartilage), so I’d recommend asking one’s family doctor whether there could be any harm in it. I really don’t think there is, but I do not know. The daily dosage I take is three 1000 mg capsules. Anyone who decides to try this should start out at a lower dosage, I think.

Another thing one might try is getting some of the stuff used to heal/strengthen horses’ hooves. The stuff I’ve got is Hoof Quencher[sup]TM[/sup]. Depending on one’s location, it might be necessary to go to a pet supply store, or find it online somewhere. But don’t apply it when you’re going to be washing your hands soon after. :slight_smile: If you can’t find it elsewhere, try Vermont Country Store I think they still carry it - no time to check. <gasp>

Knox gelatin is Kosher, I believe, as it is bovine (ie, beef) not porcine (ie, pig). Not sure as I only keep Kosher during Passover, but that’s my recollection. I too would suggest the block thingy. My mom used to have one and I loved it. See, I can’t paint my nails as I’m a chemist and it just isn’t a good idea, but I like to at least pretend I maintain some of my feminity. It works really well, in fact, I think I shall get a new one. Anyhow, that’s my suggestion. While long nails are used on occasion, short ones are just fine to. Oh, painting nails after buffing working well, too, if my memory serves me right.

I learned in chem class that gelatin in made of the same proteins we use to make nails, so I’d try it. It’s cheap and not painful.

What are your toenails like? If they are similarly weak, then it’s likely to be an internal problem. If they are strong and grow well, then it’s more likely to be the things you’re doing to your hands that’s causing the difficulties.

From an internal standpoint, take a decent multi-vitamin. Lots of vitamin deficiencies show themselves in the nails. If your diet is particularly awful, or if you’re a vegan, see if your doctor will give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins. The extra boost might be helpful for a month or two.

If you’re open to herbs, I highly recommend Nettles (also known as Stinging Nettles or Urtica dioica) taken internally a couple of times a day. You can find it either in tea form or in freeze-dried capsules. Nettles is great for skin, nails and hair. There are no contraindications for nettles, and its been shown to be very safe at very high doses. People have been eating it as a steamed vegetable for hundreds of years.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) might also be helpful - it has astounding levels of silica, which your nails might be lacking in. You can find it in tincture or in powder. Follow the package or herbalist’s directions, but don’t take more than 2 grams of the powder per day. If there is a chance of cardiac or renal (kidney) disfunction, do not use horsetail. Take horsetail for three weeks, then take a week off. Horsetail used inappropriately can lead to thiamin deficiency, so it may be best to take with Vitamin C (the Vit C in a good quality multi-vitamin should be fine.)

Finally, the work you do sounds like you may be exposed to quite a few chemicals on a daily basis. Your body might like a little boost in keeping itself clean and healthy. Milk Thistle seed (Silybum marianum) act as a protectant against liver damage from chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In Chinese Medicine, we often see a link between an overtaxed Liver and weak nails. Milk Thistle is not water soluble, so skip the Milk Thistle teas and take a tincture or capsule.

The thing to remember is that nails take time. They grow pretty slowly, and they only grow from one end, so keep it up and in a couple of months you should notice a difference.

My toenails actually are quite similar to my fingernails, perhaps a little thicker, but also soft and prone to splits along the sides. I have a suspicion that it may be genetic b/c my mom has pretty much the same nails as me. She keeps hers long but does not do the manual work that I do, and she also files the sides down. I have a very healthy diet, lots of fruits and veggies, I get most of my protien from beans and tofu, and occasionally nuts, and calcium from yogurt. I rarely eat any meat, occasionally chicken but that’s it. I also take a multivitamin daily, so I don’t think I have any dietary deficiencies. When my nails do grow the white part is very white (I don’t know if that has any significance).

My husband has beautiful, strong, hard nails. I’ve trimmed his toenails for him a couple times, and I kid you not, they are SO tough I think that dog claw clippers would do a better job than human nail clippers. Not thick nails, just very strong. It’s not faaaaair! :frowning:

Eat gelatin and salmon.

Use OPI’s Nail Envy. THis is not cheap - the cheap one’s don’t do squat.

Your nails will thicken right up. (Honest).


My nails are similar to yours, and it’s genetic. My nails are soft and flat - the combination is not conducive to structural strength. When I was a little girl, in the spirit of imitation I wanted long nails and painted them with nail polish. I soon learned there was nothing I could do and my nails were just the way they are. I grew out of the long nail thing though thankfully. Now I think they are gross and unsanitary. On top of that, it’s a burden foisted upon women by men who want their women pliant and helpless. It’s that dragon lady thing imported from China. Women bought it hook line and sinker. Why are we so gullible?

Sorry, I digress. :smiley:

I keep mine clipped short and clean. If you have to work with your hands or play a musical instrument you can’t have long nails anyway.

I’d suggest taking some Glucosamine/Chondroitin. Not only is it good for your joints in general, but your nails and hair will grow stronger and a little quicker.

Umm… there’s a part of the human body that needs silica?

I agree with what Flutterby said. Get yourself some good nail files. Not the metal ones or the emery boards. Do you have a Sally’s Beauty Supply or similar? If you do go there and get some files from there. What I use is a 180 grit for rough shaping then a 400 grit for finishing and smoothing them up. (less than a buck a piece)

Because of the work you do is hard on your hands keeping them painted and looking nice that way would drive you nuts. So, get one of the chamois nail buffers (less than 3 bucks) and buff them to a high shine. Get some cuticle oil there- just the sallys brand works just as well and the higher priced brands of oil, put that on cuticles every night.

Oh and never use those “push style” cuticle cutters (looks like a v-shape blade on the end of a stick) very bad. Get some orange sticks and push (gently) your cuticles back after a bath or shower then trim them up (the loose peices) with a pair of cuticle nippers if you want to. Then apply cuticle oil.

A good nail strengthener is called Nailtek Nail strengthener (about 10 bucks) It works great. People use this after having acrylics removed to toughen up the nails. The Nail Envy from OPI, I hear is good, but have never used it, I think that runs about 7 bucks a bottle. These you cant get at a Sally’s- you have to go to a place like ULTA or nail salons in your area.

So here would be your 'shopping list" for nail products:
-180 grit file
-400 grit file
-chamois buffer
-orange sticks
-cuticle oil
-nail strenthener
-cuticle nippers (can be anywhere from 5-20 bucks)

A good multi-vitamin (I hear prenatal vitamins get you great nails) suppliment
and a constant nail care “program” they should be looking nice and presentable.

I feel your pain, Amazon Floozy Goddess, and here are a couple of suggestions:

When you go to Sally’s Beauty Supply, look around for a Rubystone or similar ceramic nail file. It’s a pink, thick stone file that really smooths the edges of your finger nails so that they don’t catch on anything. Also, try not to file the sides of your nails to keep hangnails at bay.

You say that you do lots of manual labor? Do you wear work gloves when engaged in these activities? You might want to consider wearing gloves to further protect your nails. Mine are dehydrated so I try to remember to apply cuticle cream frequently and this seems to help.

I hope these suggestions help.

I’m just stating the obvious probably, but a pair of leather gloves when you work certainly helps protect what nails you have left to work on. Finger cots could be useful too.

Nutra Nail makes a product called “5 to 7 day Growth” which actually does make nails much stronger if you use it daily. You paint it on your nails & cuticles, then massage it in. I don’t think it’s carcinogenic! I must admit that it doesn’t make a permanent difference; that is, you have to paint it on there every day, not just for 5 to 7 days! But, my nails which split down the middle all the time before, even with taking gelatin capusles, now are strong enough that I can garden without gloves. It’s a big help. (I buy the product here in LA at Sav-On Drugs.)

MrAru has alopecia, and his nails are doubly beset by his Hashimoto’s, so they look like those nails I once saw in a picture of an amphetamine addicts nails…his doctor gave him a topical - Cormax, it seems to help fairly well. Makes them strong enough not to shred, but they are still dished and sort of scrotty looking.

Look for the sequence “formal” in the various chemicals listed in the Ingredients. If it has them, it has formaldehyde.

I haven’t looked at the ingredients list recently, but a famous brand name had(has?) a product known as Hard as Nails[sup]TM[/sup] which contained a formalin compound the last time I checked. The formaldehyde kills the skin and nail cells with which it comes in contact, and makes them hard. That’s why it and similar products work.

I tried to load a follow-up about Hoof Quencher[sup]TM[/sup] just before board shutdown this morning, but it didn’t go through, and I didn’t save it this time. :smack: Oh, well.

Here’s a link direct to Hoof Quencher[sup]TM[/sup], and one to cotton sleeping gloves. I’ve bought things on and off from VT Country Store for more than 20 years, and have always been satisfied with their products and service. They’re not the cheapest place, but they do carry some things that you simply can’t find elsewhere.

IOW, if you can find these items locally, you’ll probably pay less for them there, even before you add on the shipping charges. However, as I said above, I buy things there periodically that I really cannot find elsewhere.