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Growing Strong Fingernails
April 17, 2004 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to grow claws. I was wondering if there is a way to cause one's fingernails to grow thicker and harder, into something one won't have to worry about breaking when fingerpicking one's guitar with them. Any suggestions? Is this even possible?
posted by kaibutsu to Science & Nature (27 answers total)
 
Why not just go get acrylic tips?
posted by pieoverdone at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2004


Why not just go and get acrylic nails put on? You can get them pretty much indestructible nowadays. When I ripped a nail I had acrylic put on over the tear so that it would just grow out without further damage. Nice and thick, worked like a charm.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2004


Oh. Uh, what pie said.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2004


" I want to grow claws "

if you find a way to do it, you won't able to post silly questions on AskMefi anymore -- you'll just ruin your keyboard.
posted by matteo at 2:37 PM on April 17, 2004


You can paint stuff onto them, but otherwise - nail strenth is one indicator of health, I think. You probably could grow strongernails by eating a lot of Glucosamine Chondroitin (sp?).

Or, you could have a special pair of glue-on talons tailor made from stainless steel - you'd be like a mini version of "Wolverine".
posted by troutfishing at 2:39 PM on April 17, 2004


For some reason, I am weirded out by this question, but here goes...

You can buy "nail hardener" in the nail polish section. I don't use it, but my wife swears by it.
posted by Quartermass at 2:47 PM on April 17, 2004


Nail Hardener, or else wraps at a salon.

(and I've always wondered why toenails are so much thicker than fingernails)
posted by amberglow at 2:56 PM on April 17, 2004


If you figure out how to grow retractable claws like a cat's, let me know, 'K?
posted by Grod at 3:03 PM on April 17, 2004


and I've always wondered why toenails are so much thicker than fingernails
Speculating, but could it be evolution in process? The chances of having your toe nails smashed (especially back in the day without shoes like we have now) versus your hand was much greater, so those who had the stronger toe nail didn't have theirs broken/smashed as much so had a better chance of survival while the selective pressures aren't as prevalent for thicker fingernails?
posted by jmd82 at 3:04 PM on April 17, 2004


I think you're mistaken kaibutsu, having sharp claws won't help you if you're called out at MetaTalk...
posted by wendell at 3:06 PM on April 17, 2004


Get acrylic tips in your desired claw shape. This will protect your natural nails while they grow out to the desired length. Once your real nails are long enough, have the acrylic removed, but keep a clear nail hardener or polish on them for a while, as the acrylic may weaken the nail somewhat.

caveat- Acrylic tips are a bit strange to wear. They make your nails maybe 5x thicker, so it's akin to wearing mittens- if you're going to use your claws as picks, I'd do just one finger or two in acrylic to see how it affects your playing.
posted by obloquy at 3:31 PM on April 17, 2004


I'm not going to delve into that world just to help answer this AskMe question (sorry!), but you may check into some of the more fanatical furry body modification web sites.
posted by Hildago at 3:41 PM on April 17, 2004


I haven't played guitar in a while, and I have fairly strong nails to begin with, but I'm familiar with the problem because acrylic tips always felt strange to me when I did play--just couldn't get used to them. I used the nail hardener referred to earlier in the thread, and it worked well. Gelatin is supposed to help, so I made a point of keeping some Jell-O on hand, but I don't know whether or not that really made a difference--eating some Jell-O once in a while was a pretty small gamble on the chance it might help, so I did it.

I once read in some guitar magazine about a guitarist (Chet Atkins?--I'm not sure) who painted a thin layer of Krazy Glue on his nails. Supposedly it made them quite strong, but also noticeably whiter, which is probably not something you're looking for. I never tried it myself, nor would I recommend it--stick with the products that are made for this job. Still, in the interest of completeness, I thought I'd mention it.
posted by Acetylene at 3:47 PM on April 17, 2004


"furry body modification"

That phrase makes me giggle. I'm insensitive, I realise this.
posted by Salmonberry at 4:15 PM on April 17, 2004


There's a blue-coloured nail hardener -- I'm not at home so I can't look at its name -- that works really really well. If I remember I'll get the name for you. (Dries clear, of course.)

Personally, I think claws are a very silly idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:23 PM on April 17, 2004


Speaking as someone who's had acrylic tips, despite the fact that they are sturdy, they feel awful when it comes to picking a guitar. Or doing much of anything else.

Natural nails bend and even break, when they're under too much stress. Acrylic doesn't do that. Even the slightest pressure used to make me think that a little bit more, and I'd rip a nail off. The comparison to mittens (little tiny fingertip-sized mittens) is pretty on-target, also.

Getting acrylic involves having your natural nail sanded so the acrylic+glue+tip they use bonds to it. This makes your nail weak when you finally do decide to take the nails off. And if you decide to just allow the nail to grow out, you have this nasty, tacky-looking hump of acrylic above your regular nail. And the only way to not have that hump is to get a "refill," which basically involves sanding more of your regular nail, to bond more acrylic to it.

Highly not recommended.

Nail strengthener, though. I am going to have to second (or third) this.
posted by precocious at 9:26 PM on April 17, 2004


This "nail hardender" people speak of is too often just clear nail polish. It peels under pressure. If you want something hard that will last, use superglue like nailpolish. If you're hardcore you're already doing this on your fretting fingerpads. It will strengthen your right hand nails also. I really have no clue what you're talking about about claws. I guess clip to suit your fancy and harden with krazy glue.

Anyone who's recommended false fingernails has never played a damn guitar.
posted by scarabic at 9:34 PM on April 17, 2004


Metafilter: Grow claws. We'll help you.
posted by bingo at 10:01 PM on April 17, 2004


(Sorry. Wasn't trying to knock the question.)
posted by bingo at 10:30 PM on April 17, 2004


My nails have been significantly stronger since I started taking biotin supplements. They went from incredibly weak to normal, so I'd guess if your nails were of normal strength to begin with the biotin might really thicken & strengthen them.
posted by palegirl at 11:08 PM on April 17, 2004


Vitamin E capsules. Break one open every night and smear the goo on your nails and cuticles. It's pretty sticky, so do it right before you go to bed and AFTER taking out contacts. =P

I did this often when I was a teenager and I could grow my nails longer than ever before or since. They were so strong that once I actually flipped the tip of my first finger's nail completely backwards-inside-out slamming it into concrete. After I got over the initial shock of it, I just popped it back over to normal again without breaking it or even showing a bend line.

I clipped them into claw points and painted them dark red. It lasted about two days and freaked my mother out but good 'til I filed them down after drawing blood one too many times.
posted by Melinika at 11:48 PM on April 17, 2004


What style of guitar are you playing? Apart from Flamenco, I can't think of too many styles where nails are that important. Try the search feature on the IGS Guitar forum and see what comes up. Type "bare fingers" or "nails".

Really, though, I play a metal resonator guitar with heavy strings and most of the time I play with the flesh of my fingertips, occasionally with metal fingerpicks for volume. You don't need claws. You really don't.
posted by zaelic at 3:03 AM on April 18, 2004


Sweet. Thanks, guys. It's good to know that the MeFi is here for me, even when I want to grow claws.

I'll definitely look into the vitamin E capsules and, failing that, the super-glue solution.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:06 AM on April 18, 2004


I agree with the bioton supplements suggestions, and also suggest Witchcraft nail hardener.
posted by biscotti at 5:33 AM on April 18, 2004


Sweet. Thanks, guys. It's good to know that the MeFi is here for me, even when I want to grow claws.
We're good for claws, but not if there's a zombie attack, i guess. : >

and thanks, jmd--it's too bad, tho, i rarely drop things on my feet, but stub my toes all the time (where the nails aren't)
posted by amberglow at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2004


I agree with the earlier comments that acrylic nails are not the way to go. I had them and they were horrible. They do break and chip, not to mention the damage that is done to your natural nails in the process.

I used to have thin nails, but then I went on Atkins and after several months my nails became much thicker and stronger. Now my nails grow really long and rarely break. When I wear polish, people think that they're fake because they're so nice.

I tend to believe it was the high protein diet that did the trick because my hair also grew faster. On the other hand, my mother also had really good thick nails and maybe it was some recessive gene just catching up with me.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:26 PM on April 18, 2004


Yo, hey, I found my nail strengthener.

It's called "Witchcraft Calcium Gel Nailbuilder." It appears to be a Canadian product. One application saved my fingernails, which had been tearing like mad for no obvious reason.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2004


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