Breaking a nail can easily spoil your day as we all can relate to. After putting in efforts to grow your nails and giving it a flawless manicure, one broken nail can ruin the entire look, maybe followed by others. The only solution left would be to file them all down just to match and wait for them to regrow again, which can be quite annoying.
Essentially, the broken nail dilemma could have underlying causes and it’s not just a simple mishap. I consulted some professionals to uncover the root cause of recurrent nail breakage and provide solutions to prevent it.
It may be a sign
Everyone experiences broken nails occasionally, but if it happens often, it’s worth considering the reasons why. Westlake Dermatology’s Dr. Christa M. Tomc highlights how our skin, hair, and nails can reveal much about our overall health and lifestyle. Nails that consistently break as they grow beyond the fingertips could indicate underlying health issues or the need for improved diet and habits, making it advisable to schedule a medical examination.
Dr. Tomc explains that weak and brittle nails could indicate a deficiency of vital vitamins and minerals in your body, and taking a daily vitamin may alleviate this issue. Research has shown that taking biotin supplements daily can increase nail thickness by 25 percent. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that the FDA does not regulate nutritional supplements, which is why it’s necessary to consult with a dermatologist before incorporating a vitamin supplement into your diet.
Biotin, which is also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, is present in various foods like eggs, nuts, whole grains, bananas, legumes, and mushrooms. Having a well-balanced diet that includes these foods can aid in preventing nail breakage and strengthening them. For individuals who are not fond of these foods or cannot consume them, taking a supplement is an alternative option, but only after consulting a doctor.
As there is no reliable laboratory test available to confirm a vitamin deficiency, the usual diagnosis is based on symptoms and improvement observed after taking supplements. Brittle nails could be caused by a deficiency in various vitamins such as iron, B, C, D, or E and not just biotin.
Dr. Tomc suggests that protein has benefits beyond just muscle building. Inadequate intake of protein can make your nails brittle and prone to breaking. Foods that are rich in protein are necessary to provide ample nourishment to our nails by producing keratin, the protein responsible for nail growth. Therefore, it is important to consume plenty of foods like chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs, beans, and low-fat dairy products to enhance the protein levels and rejuvenate your nails.
“A well-balanced diet will ensure your nails’ growth and strength,” says Dr. Tomc.
Inadequate water intake can negatively affect your entire body including your nails, which can become brittle due to dehydration. To prevent this, it is recommended that adults drink about nine cups of water per day to ensure their nails receive the necessary hydration.
Not enough moisturizer
It is important to keep your nails moisturized both internally and externally. External moisturization is very crucial and can be achieved by frequently applying heavy moisturizers throughout the day. You should keep a moisturizer with you at all times, and apply it whenever possible, especially after your hands have been in contact with water. Remember, you cannot overdo this.
Too much water
When discussing water and its impact on nails, CND education ambassador Kristina Saindon explained that it is not the water we drink that is a concern, but rather the water that contacts our hands. Frequent exposure to water during daily tasks such as dishwashing, laundry or food preparation can be harsh on nails due to the drying effects of solvents and soaps used in cleaning. To prevent this issue, Saindon recommends wearing gloves while doing wet work. Though it may not look very attractive, gloves can help maintain the appearance and health of your nails.
Too much nail polish
Although the shiny appearance of the polish is attractive, using too much of it could potentially damage your nails.
Dr. Tomc explained that certain treatments that scrape or dry out the nail plate can eventually cause small injuries and splitting. However, there’s no need to be concerned since you can continue using your favorite nail polish. Just be sure to limit its use to five days and allow your nails a few days without polish to recuperate between manicures.
Filing the wrong way
It may seem like a routine habit to file your nails, but there’s a high probability that you’ve been doing it incorrectly, which is leading to your nails breaking. Anita Zappacosta, an experienced member of the nail industry who works as the Executive Director of OmegaLabs USA and Tropical Shine, advises that the best method is to file in a single direction. The back and forth motion of sawing weakens the nail and eventually leads to it breaking.
According to Zappacosta, the shape of your nails plays a significant role in preventing breakage. Nails with square shapes and softly rounded corners are ideal for reducing vulnerability to breakage, and oval nails are also a good option. If you file your nails too far from the walls on either side, they become weak and are more prone to cracking or breaking. It’s crucial to maintain the nail wall on both sides of the nail to prevent this from happening.
In essence, it is advisable to discard the cuticle trimmer immediately as cutting your cuticles is not recommended.
According to Dr. Tomc, the boundary separating the sturdy, keratinized part of the nail and the nail matrix is referred to as the cuticle. The nail matrix comprises the section of the nail that extends from approximately the cuticle to the neighboring knuckle, and it is responsible for growing the nail plate. Inflammation of this region, caused by excessively cutting the cuticle, can have an impact on the growth of the nail.
Anita Zappacosta, the executive director of OmegaLabs USA and Tropical Shine who has vast experience in the nail industry, concurs that cutting the cuticle should be avoided at all times. Since it is an area of closed skin, attempting to cut it could potentially expose it to bacteria, causing an infection. Instead, she suggests gently softening the cuticle area through a warm soak, cuticle cream or oil, and pushing it back with either a cuticle pusher or an orange wood stick. This method of softening and gently pushing back the cuticle is the ideal approach to maintaining healthy, well-cared-for nails.
Texting and typing
If you needed further motivation to stop using your phone, consider this: the sound you hear when your nails hit the keyboard or screen is not just irritating, but can also damage your nails. Dr. Tomc explains that habitual trauma can gradually weaken the nail plate. Therefore, if you can hear your nails tapping against the screen or keys while typing, it’s important to either trim your nails or change your typing approach to prevent damage.
Please remember that it will take some time for your nails to strengthen, thus it might take a moment before you see any noticeable improvements. According to Dr. Tomc, the growth period for a full new fingernail is approximately six months, while a brand new toenail may take a year.