10 Tips For Growing Long, Strong Natural Nails

As a child, I was one of the approximately 45% of the population who bites their nails. Gross, I know. 

But once I stopped, sometime in my late teens, early twenties, I became fixated on growing my nails as long as physically possible - a feat that has been both frustrating and expensive. 

Growing long, strong, natural nails is hard...especially if you have a history of picking or biting. And many of us resort to gels, acrylics or silks to artificially add length, which in turn can damage your own nails further. It's a bad cycle. 

So to help people in the same predicament as myself, I looked high and low for the best tips and tricks to help even the weakest, flakiest most brittle nails to become the peak of natural Instagram-worthy gorgeousness. Also, let us know in the comments if there are any remedies or tips that you have tried and would recommend - we love to hear all your suggestions!

 

1. Stop biting / picking - Step one is always the hardest. And if you are biting and picking at your nails and/or cuticles, or if you use your nails as a tool to open, scrape or pick at things, you have to stop in order to fulfill your long nail fantasies. This process involves a change in learned behavior that may have been going on for years and is possibly linked to an emotion such as anxiety or boredom. Identifying these triggers will help you be more aware of the problem and develop a strategy to stop. Keeping nails cut short and applying a bitter tasting polish can also discourage you from chewing. Also, replacing the bad habit with a good one, such as squeezing a stress ball (like THESE) will give you something else to do with your hands. 

2. Moisturize and nourish - Dry nails and cuticles leads to nails that peel, split and are brittle. Keep them well moisturized by applying a hand and nail cream daily. For extra nourishment use a cuticle oil (coconut oil works great too and is a natural anti-fungal). Keep both products on your desk, or nightstand, in plain view so you are reminded to actually use them. 

3. Protect and strengthen - A slick of nail strengthener, such as Orly Nail Defense, helps fortify weak nails and provides an added barrier to help prevent breakage, splitting or peeling. 

4. Get regular manicures - Having a professional tend to your tips on a regular basis (if you can afford such a luxury) is a good idea. The manicure process not only stimulates blood flow to your hands, but having someone correctly push back your cuticles and shape your nails properly will promote growth and nail strength. And besides, the pampering is good for the soul. 

5. Give your nails a break - I am totally guilty of leaving the same coat of polish on my nails for weeks and weeks on end. Or even just painting a different color over my already chipped, unsightly mess of a situation. This is BAD! Your nails are porous surfaces that needs to breathe. So having them constantly covered with polish will make them dry, and can even turn them yellow. Eeeeww. Once your polish starts chipping, or at least every couple of weeks, remove all traces of polish and give your nails a break. 

6. Eat (and drink) me - Your diet and what you put in your body can have a huge impact on the health of your hair, skin and nails, with poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies being major contributors to nail weakness and breakage. But luckily some foods can actually promote nail growth and overall health. Keeping your body well hydrated - drinking enough water - will help cure nail dryness from the inside out. And ensuring your diet is packed with protein, leafy green veggies and nuts - all of which contain the vital vitamins that support healthy nail growth. 

7. Supplements - To give your body an extra nutritional boost you can supplement your diet with additional vitamins and minerals such as Biotin and Vitamin E. 

8. Wear gloves - While your nails need to be kept hydrated, exposing them to water for long periods of time is actually a bad thing. Oh the irony! Plus many household cleaners contain harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetone which can thin and dry out nails. So whether you are doing dishes, washing the dog or scrubbing the bathroom, make sure to wear gloves. 

9. Be picky with products - Read labels and only purchase products for your hands and nails that are moisturizing, conditioning and strengthening - such as acetone-free nail polish remover, water based polish etc 

10. Learn your natural shape - No one, I repeat NO ONE has a naturally square nail shape. And filing your nails into this shape can actually weaken the structure of the nail. Visually, it also makes your nails appear shorter. But we get it...its the hot style. Instead, ask a manicurist to file your nails into a more natural shape for your fingers and nail bed shape - it's different for everyone, but this will be the shape in which your nails will grow the best.