Nails in need of some TLC? We asked nail experts about the best way to strengthen and grow nails during lockdown.
During lockdown, you may have made some adjustments to your beauty routine. For some, it’s switching up our skincare routine to treat breakouts we’re getting at home. For others, it’s taking the brave step of dyeing your own hair at home. While most of us have discarded a make-up regime altogether. But how about your nails?
Many would have picked off their gel manicures by now (but if you haven’t, follow our guide on how to do it safely here), and as a result, you may be left with damaged and weak nails.
“If you pick off gel nails then there’s a strong chance you will be taking off one or more layers of the nail plate,” explains Lynn Gray, nail health expert at Mavala. “This results in the nails becoming thinner and weaker. It will also begin to flake at the tips.”
Celebrity nail artist Jenni Draper adds, “Essentially, picking off a gel manicure pulls off a layer of nail plate away with it. If this is done many times, over time the nail will almost be down to the nailbed.”
If your nails are feeling the brunt of picking and pulling, Gray and Draper break down every step you can take to make them grow back stronger and longer…
Apply cuticle oil regularly
The end of every manicure finishes with a shiny slick of cuticle oil painted across the bottom of our nails, but what does it do? “When applied daily and massaged into the base of the nail, cuticle oils help with the nail condition and stimulates the growth,” explains Gray. “This is due to the massage action, which brings blood and nutrients to the ‘brain’ of the nail, also known as ‘the matrix’. This is the full moon at the base of the fingernail where the cells of the nails are formed.”
Draper adds, “You should also use cuticle oil at least twice a day to encourage strong regrowth – I love Dadi oil, a treatment oil high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. Keep it by your toothbrush to help to remember to apply it and massage it in twice a day.”
Be careful when cutting your cuticles
“It is a common misconception that cuticles need to be cut and for those who choose to do so, actually cut the eponychium,” says Gray. “The eponychium is the slightly thicker skin around the base of the nail and should be removed as it protects the nails from infections.
“The true cuticle that does need to be removed is the small, scaly area of dead skin cells stuck to the nail plate. However this should not be pushed back as this is how the nail matrix becomes damaged.”
Consider the length
“The best way to stop your nails from breaking is to keep them shorter,” says Draper. “You should have just a small amount of white, file them down when you get a snag and always file from each outside edge towards the centre. Don’t seesaw back and forth as this causes friction and that weakens the nails.”
Add vitamins to your diet
“Your fingernails often reflect your diet,” says Gray. “Dietary deficiencies not only prevent nails from growing normally, but also can cause weakness and brittleness, which are two of the main nail problems.”
But there are certain types of foods you can add to your diet to help strengthen your nails. “Anything with plenty of vitamins, such as vitamin E and B, and zinc, fruit, vegetable and nuts (almonds are rich in zinc and vitamin E),” explains Draper. “Eggs are full of protein which is exactly what your nails need. Also, good fats such as those found in oily fish and avocados. But the most simple thing you can do is drink plenty of water for essential moisture.”
Consider supplements for extra help
“You should be able to get all the correct amount of nutrients from your diet,” says Gray. “But if you want to take supplements for additional support, vitamin A strengthens the nails and helps them grow, while vitamin B helps prevent nail diseases. Also, calcium is indispensable for the strength and consistency of the nails.”
Protect your nails where possible
“Wearing gloves when cleaning and doing the washing up can help, but you should also wear a protective polish,” says Gray. “These protect fragile nails, provide protection and increase the nails resistance to breakage.”
Look into nail strengtheners
“Nail strengtheners work to harden the nail plate and bond the layers of the nail together, making them stronger,” explains Gray. As nail experts, both Gray and Draper have tried many nail strengtheners over their careers, so which are their favourites?
“I would recommend Mavala’s Scientifque K+, £13.01, which is a pro keratin penetrating nail hardener,” says Gray. “Follow with Mavala Mava-Strong, £16, which is a fortifying and protective base coat. The active ingredients improve the nails quality and help with the natural process of keratinization. Applied regularly over time, nails will be reinforced and will grow longer and stronger.”
Draper relies on Morgan Taylor’s Go Ahead And Grow Nail Strengthener & Growth Base Coat, £11.63. “Use this two or three times a week for a month to see an improvement.”
Main image: Getty