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15 Tips for Strong and Healthy Nails

Long, strong, and healthy nails are possible-if you know how to take proper care of your nails. Here’s what you need to know to keep your nails in tip top shape.


1. Keep your fingernails dry and clean.

This prevents bacteria from growing under your nails. Prolonged or repeated contact with water can contribute to the splitting of your fingernails. After washing your hands or after taking a shower, make sure to towel dry your finger and toe nails.


2. Wear gloves.

Be sure to wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when cleaning, washing dishes, or using harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals can cause your nails to become dry, brittle, and discolored, so it’s important to keep them protected.


3. Keep your nails trimmed.

Use sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across and then go back and round the tips in a gentle curve. Regular trims are as important to your nails as they are to your hair. Try to clip them every two weeks, adjusting to more or less often once you see how your nails respond.


4. Don’t forget to moisturize.

Keeping your nails hydrated will keep your cuticles from looking dry and rough. Use Vaseline or moisturizer with Vitamin E on your nails and cuticles before bed.


5. Keep your nails filed.

An emery board is a great tool to smooth away any rough edges that may occur from everyday wear and tear. When filing your nails, be sure to only work in one direction with the grain of your nail. Also, don’t file your nails right after you shower because your nails are weaker and more likely to break.


6. Indulge in acrylic or gel treatments sparingly.

Even though these manicures are long-lasting and convenient, the UV light can damage your hands and nails. The UV light exposure can be harmful to the skin below and around the nail, leading to an increased risk of cancer. To help reduce that risk, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 before your manicure or you can try special gloves that expose only the nails themselves, shielding the rest of your hands from the harmful UV rays.


7. Never cut your cuticles.

The cuticle seals the area at the base of the nail. When you cut or remove the cuticle, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to bacteria and possibly infections. If you hate the look of cuticles, you can push back the cuticle once a week after getting out of the shower, then massage them with a cuticle cream or a thick, creamy lotion.


8. Always use a base coat.

A base coat not only protects the nail from getting stained by the polish, but it also helps the color look more opaque and saturated with just one coat. Some base coats also work as nail hardeners, which can make your nails healthier.


9. Give your nails a break.

Going from one polish color to another without giving your nails a break can dry them out, turn them yellow, and over time, even weaken the overall structure of the nail. Give your nails a break by either going bare or by adding a single clear coat.


10. Take care of your tools.

Disinfecting your nail tools between uses is essential for keeping bacteria away. Wash your metal tools with soap and water and then wipe down the tool with alcohol. Also, regularly dispose of tools like emery boards which are extremely porous collectors of bacteria.


11. Take biotin supplements.

Make sure to ask your doctor first, but several studies have found that supplements of biotin can increase nail thickness and prevent splitting and breaking.


12. Avoid acetone-based polish removers.

All dermatologists agree that you should avoid acetone nail polish remover if you have brittle nails since it has been documented that it strips the nails, causing them to become brittle.


13. Never peel off nail polish.

When you peel off nail polish you might actually be removing the top layer of your nail bed, which sets the stage for weakened nails. You absolutely must let each layer-base coat, first polish application, second polish application, and top coat- completely dry before doing the next if you do not want your nail polish to peel or chip. A great tool to ensure that your nails are dry is to use a drying fan or a gel polish lamp. You can buy Equate’s 2-in-1 Nail Dryer here.



14. Air out your shoes.

Always air out your work boots and athletic shoes. Putting your feet into damp, sweaty shoes can lead to serious fungal infections.


15. Consider your diet.

Nails are made of a protein called keratin, so you can improve your nails by tweaking your diet. Add vitamins and supplements such as Vitamin E, fish oil and biotin to your daily regime, as well as protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts, and fish to improve your nail health



  1. Kyle Wayne says:

    I never knew how important cuticles are when trying to fight against bacteria and infection! My younger sister is looking to buy Czech painted nail files online so she can take better care of her nails. I’ll also be sure to talk to her about not cutting her cuticles.

  2. Ellie Davis says:

    I was not aware that making sure to towel dry your finger and toenails after a shower will contribute to proper nail care. My husband and I are thinking about how to take care of our toenails, and we are looking for advice to prevent problems. I will let him know about your recommendations to help us improve our nail health.

  3. Faylinn says:

    When you said that you should disinfect your nail tools between uses can keep the bacteria away, I thought about my own tools and about how long it’s been since I have used them. Personally, I do not take too much time to care for my nails ever since my children were born. Maybe I can find a service or a salon that could care for my nails soon, so I can enjoy having healthy hands again.

  4. Thanks for explaining that dry fingernails mean minimal bacteria. My wife is looking for ways to improve her nail health this year as a new year’s resolution. We’ll have to find a salon to visit as well.