Science/evidence based help/treatment to grow longer nails?
June 4, 2016 10:01 PM   Subscribe

My nails grow so very slowly, and I want longer prettier nails. Are there any supplements or external topical treatments to help them grow faster that have actually been proven to work by science?
posted by skjønn to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Prenatal vitamins are good for hair and nail growth. I'm sure it's something particular in the prenatal that helps but I'm not sure which ingredient helps.
posted by toomanycurls at 2:08 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Evidence for the prenatal vitamins helping is personal and peer experience.
posted by toomanycurls at 2:10 AM on June 5, 2016

Biotin supplements are supposed to help hair and nails grow stronger and slightly faster. It's worth a shot to see if it makes a difference after a few weeks!
posted by phatkitten at 3:00 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nails grow at a pretty fixed rate, but biotin/prenatal vitamins help prevent breakage.
posted by xyzzy at 3:09 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have the same problem, as far as I can tell it's genetic. My grandma had incredibly weak hair and nails, and so do I. I've tried pretty much everything I've been able to get my hands on (yes, including prenatal vitamins) including dietary changes, topical applications, all things from the obviously woo-woo to the seemingly legit. Nothing has really done much for me. Even at times when they've seemed to grow marginally faster, they usually still break in some way (typically the layers come apart.)

A friend of mine who has a similar issue says that fake nail manicures were basically the only thing that helped. There's a lot of options these days, some of which are less damaging to the natural nail than others. If you're up for the maintenance, it might be the best way to go.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 3:25 AM on June 5, 2016

Anecdotally, this biotin supplement has helped my (super weak, prone to splitting) nails quite a lot, and is super cheap as a bonus.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:43 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

My doctor also recommended Biotin.
posted by kathrynm at 6:47 AM on June 5, 2016

There is no evidence for the "prenatals are good for your hair and nails" trope. (There are also risks to unnecessary vitamin/mineral supplementation.)

Pregnant women bathe in hormones that give them great hair, glowing skin, etc (I can't remember what my nails were like, but I do remember the hair surplus). Hence, I expect, the confusion that the vitamins have something to do with it.
posted by kmennie at 8:05 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

According to WebMD, there are studies that biotin actually helps. Additionally, the article lists a number of health issues known to negatively impact nail health. So, try to stay on top of your health generally.
posted by Michele in California at 12:19 PM on June 5, 2016

I've been looking at protein powders (for smoothies for my kids) and came across animal protein powders, specifically from this company . Some of their ad copy, as well as Amazon reviews, mention improved skin/hair/nail quality. It seems plausible that dietary collagen might help, idk.

There's gelatin (which makes jello or gummies) or "collagen peptides" which aren't supposed to thicken like gelatin.
posted by The Shoodoonoof at 6:37 AM on June 6, 2016

Sorry, just reread the "proven to work by science" part of the question.
posted by The Shoodoonoof at 6:40 AM on June 6, 2016

Okay, this got me curious, so a little bit of science to compliment the hearsay of Amazon reviews:
The Effect of Gelatin on Fragile Finger Nails - This is basically a physician report published in 1950 describing his use of gelatin with 12 of his patients who complained of weak, brittle nails with good results.

Based on a half hour perusing Google scholar, there doesn't seem to be compelling evidence that dietary gelatin or collagen improves nail strength and growth. But it also seems to not be a "hot topic"

There are some decent looking studies on reduction in joint pain:
Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease - "Conclusion: Collagen hydrolysate is of interest as a therapeutic agent of potential utility in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Its high level of safety makes it attractive as an agent for long-term use in these chronic disorders."

And I'm not sure what the relationship is exactly, but this came up in my search Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin - "Oral intake of ch-OSA during the 20 weeks results in a significant positive effect on skin surface and skin mechanical properties, and on brittleness of hair and nails."
posted by The Shoodoonoof at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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