Tips for weak or brittle fingernails

Weak fingernails can be a challenge to toughen up. To protect weak or brittle fingernails and reduce the risk of splitting or breaking:

  • Keep your nails short. Long nails are more likely to split or break.
  • Use moisturizer. Apply moisturizer to your fingernails and cuticles several times throughout the day and before bed. Consider wearing cotton gloves while you sleep, to help seal in the moisture.
  • Apply nail polish. A thin coat of clear nail polish can help keep moisture in your fingernails.
  • Limit use of nail polish remover. Don't use nail polish remover more than once a week. When you do need to use nail polish remover, choose the acetone-free variety. Acetone dries nails.
  • Ask your doctor about biotin supplements. Changing your diet or taking daily multivitamins isn't likely to strengthen your nails. However, some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.

A note about manicures and pedicures

If you rely on manicures or pedicures for healthy looking nails, keep a few things in mind. Stick to salons that display a current state license, and work only with technicians also licensed by the state board. Don't have your cuticles removed — it can lead to nail infection. Also, make sure your nail technician properly sterilizes all tools used during your procedure. Various infections can spread through the use of unsterilized tools. You might also ask how the foot baths are cleaned. Ideally, a bleach solution is used between clients and the filters are cleaned regularly.

It's easy to neglect your nails — but there's much you can do to keep your fingernails healthy and strong. Start with basic fingernail care.

Dec. 08, 2011 See more In-depth