You can tell a lot about someone by their hands. Research suggests that chipped nails are at the top of beauty blunders which scupper a candidate’s chances at interview, as well as being a giveaway of nerves, poor diet or a lack of hygiene. Stronger, healthy nails take some work, but can be achieved with the right diet and maintenance. Read our six secrets to healthy nails below.
1. Healthy nails start from within
A poor diet can wreak havoc on our nails, causing them to chip, peel and bend. Healthy eating is an important first step towards healthier nails. Getting the right balance of whole grains, proteins and healthy fats will provide your body with the nutrients it needs in order to promote cell growth and limit the amount of toxins we consume. Non-processed foods and a diet rich in vegetables and fruit will give your body everything it needs to ensure healthy nails, skin and hair.
2. Stay hydrated
If your nails and the skin around them are starting to peel, or your cuticles are looking dryer than usual, it could be because you’re not getting enough water. Staying hydrated is important to provide your body with what it needs to absorb vitamins and nutrients and therefore ensure that your body stays strong. Try to drink 6-8 glasses a day, more if you are particularly active (or warm) and eat foods which are naturally rich in water such as celery, watermelon, grapefruit, cucumbers and spinach.
3. Take supplements
Whilst supplements shouldn’t be a substitute for a healthy diet, if you find that you’re lacking in certain vitamins, a supplement could help. Biotin, which is a type of vitamin B supplement, is a great supplement to take for stronger skin, hair and nails and is readily available from pharmacies and health and nutrition stores. Biotin-rich foods include eggs, whole grains, milk, meats and nuts such as almonds.
4. Don’t forget to moisturise
Moisturising isn’t just essential for your skin and hands, it’s important for your nails too. Using hand cream regularly will help to keep your cuticles soft and your nails hydrated, helping their appearance and making them stronger. A lot of antibacterial soaps and gels can be drying, which is why it’s even more important to keep your hands moisturised. Carry a hand cream or lotion with you in your bag, or put one next to your soap dispenser in the bathroom to encourage you to form a regular hand cream habit.
5. Stop biting your nails
Apart from making you look anxious or nervous, biting your nails is a poor habit which can cause your nails to break and tear as well as leaving them weak. By biting your nails you are also exposing yourself to infection by biting down too far and causing cuts and bleeds which are also very painful. Take steps to look after your nails by filing them, and try anti-biting products to help you kick the habit. Nail biting is often a way to calm our nerves or provide us with a distraction, so try to find something else which you can do with your hands instead such as squeezing a stress ball.
6. Give your nails a break from polish
Many of us paint our nails as part of our beauty routine as well as to stay on top of current trends. Coating our nails in polish on a regular basis can affect their condition, strength as well as leave them open to getting bacterial infections, particularly for those who apply overlays such as acrylic nails or gel polishes. Every now and then it’s important that you give your nails some breathing space, so make sure you thoroughly cleanse off any remaining polish and embrace the natural look once in a while.
If your nails are particularly weak or you’ve noticed some sudden changes, it could be a sign of an underlying health concern. Check with your doctor if you’re worried, and there is plenty of great advice about health conditions available on the NHS website.