10 easy ways to strengthen nails

That awful feeling when a nail chips, cracks or breaks is extremely frustrating. Fingernails are supposed to act as tools, yet more often than not, they aren't up for the job. On top of that, the appearance of uneven and brittle nails can be deflating. Luckily, this is a common problem that can be remedied by numerous products and methods designed to strengthen nails.
Like anything else, each person's nail structure is different and has a specific set of needs. In some cases, a prescription-strength product is required from a dermatologist, but it's best to try out some simple tricks first that can also improve your overall health.
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1. Hydrate
Increasing water consumption is beneficial for various organs, especially skin. Hydrating flushes out toxins and promotes growth, which extends to the nail beds.
 Robert Przybysz / Shutterstock
2. Vitamins
There are several vitamins and combinations of those that can help to fortify nails. The top three to consider are biotin, zinc and keratin. Decipher which are missing from your diet before selecting a supplement.
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3. Diet
Foods that are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C and iron are best for nail strength and simultaneously benefit other parts of the body. Integrating a healthy amount of salmon, eggs and spinach into a diet is a good place to start.
 michaeljung / Shutterstock
4. Olive oil soak
Olive oil and other similar oils contain nutrients that penetrate and moisturize nails on contact. Warm a small dish of oil and let nails soak for about 10 minutes, making sure to gently rub the oil over the nail and cuticle.
 Robert Przybysz / Shutterstock
5. Lotion
Hand cream or lotion is another simple method for combatting dry skin and brittle nails. Apply lotion each night before bed and after hand washing. Make sure to cover nails and knuckles.
 Smart-foto / Shutterstock
6. Use gloves
Although drinking water is essential for nail health, exposure to water is not. Hot water especially can actually soften nails to the point of breakage, yet many salons soak nails to speed up the polish removal process. Skip this step and wear gloves for washing dishes or cleaning.
 4 PM production / Shutterstock
7. Regular maintenance
Simple at-home manicures on a regular basis are crucial for attending to nail needs. This includes clipping, filing (in one direction) and cuticle oil. It's best to have a file handy at all times so that flaking or breakage can be remedied immediately to avoid biting or tearing.
 Vadim Zakharishchev / Shutterstock
8. Limit chemical use
Acetone, alcohol and cleaning chemicals are extremely damaging to nails and skin. Wear gloves for any necessary exposure and try to limit the frequency of removing nail polish. It's best to let nails breath in between polish and gel manicures anyway.
 Robert Przybysz / Shutterstock
9. Strengthener formula
Most nail care and beauty companies make polish-like strengtheners and hardeners that are applied directly to the nail. Select formulas fortified with vitamin and protein complexes.
 Shannon92 / Shutterstock
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10. Consult a doctor
Ask a dermatologist or primary care physician for advice. This may reveal any unknown deficiencies that can help solve other health problems as well.
Resources In Style, Healthline, and NY Mag

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