I'm sick of my paper nails!
April 24, 2006 3:39 PM   Subscribe

My fingernails are thin and break really easily - is there something I'm missing in my diet, or something I can take to make them thicker and stronger?

My boyfriend is always looking at my fingernails and commenting that there must be something missing in my diet because they're so thin. I usually just shrug it off because I'm very healthy, I work out, drink lots of water and have a very well balanced diet, and my fingernails have ALWAYS been this way, ever since I can remember.

But they are extremely thin, and this weekend, I tore my thumbnail really badly just pulling some tight jeans on. It got me thinking - what could be the cause of my super thin nails? Could it be an indication of something that I should talk to my doctor about? Am I maybe needing to get more of some nutrient? It would be really nice to have thick, normal fingernails, so I could really rock the nailpolish like I'd like to.

If it helps, I'm a 28 year old female and as I said before, I can't remember not having this problem.
posted by pazazygeek to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you vegetarian? I have heard that lack of protein/b12 will do that.
posted by Napierzaza at 3:40 PM on April 24, 2006

If you eat gelatin, it will supposedly increase your nail strength a little.

I've always had soft nails too... they do their job, but I've seen people drive screws with a fingernail. I could never, never do that. They're fairly thick, but quite soft. Gelatin is the only thing I've found that makes any difference at all, and even that doesn't do much.
posted by Malor at 3:42 PM on April 24, 2006

You probably already thought of this, but it wasn't specifically mentioned in your post so. . .

Do you use nail polish? I'm a guy so I don't, but I've been told by a lot of my female friends that too much use of nail polish, and especially nail polish remover, makes their nails brittle.
posted by tiamat at 4:04 PM on April 24, 2006

Try some taking some biotin.

Biotin, a B vitamin, is known to strengthen hooves in animals. As a result, Swiss researchers investigated the use of biotin in strengthening brittle fingernails in humans, despite the fact that it remains unclear exactly how biotin affects nail structure. An uncontrolled trial of 2.5 mg biotin per day found improved firmness and hardness in almost all cases after an average treatment time of 5.5 months.3 In a controlled trial using 2.5 mg of biotin per day, women with brittle nails, who had their nail thickness measured before and at six to fifteen months after, found their nail thickness increased by 25%. As a result, splitting of nails was reduced. In an uncontrolled study of people who had been taking biotin for brittle nails in America, 63% showed improvement from taking biotin.4 Although the amount of research on the subject is quite limited and positive effects do not appear in all people, those people having brittle nails may want to consider a trial period of at least several months, using 2.5 mg per day of biotin.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2006

Seconding the Biotin.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:10 PM on April 24, 2006

More information on Biotin, including natural food sources. Interestingly, cooked eggs are a good source of biotin, but raw eggs cause biotin deficiency. Reminds me of an old Norm McDonald routine about Special K. Anyhow, if you're eating raw eggs, stop.
posted by dsword at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2006

Nailtiques makes great products. Definitely helped my nails out after I got sick of my gel fills (leave me alone - I was 14!!!).
posted by radioamy at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2006

I have fairly decent nails, but they tend to peel, split, bend, and break painfully on impact when neglected. If I get (or give myself) a manicure once a month or so, they grow like crazy and don't break like they did.

I think it's really the buffing and filing that make the big difference. You can get a very cheap 3-sided buffer in the nail section of any drug store, plus get a good file and a strengthening clearcoat base (I like Sally Hanson teflon formula). Use a moisturizing nail polish remover, wash hands well, massage in oil or lotion, do your buffing and filing, and either wash hands again before clearcoat or let the oil/lotion stay on overnight if you can, then wash and paint the next day. You may want to go occasionally to a professional, because they do a very nice job of shaping the nail.

I have taken biotin in times of crisis. All I really noticed is that my nails broke less traumatically when they did break, but my hair certainly went nuts. It actually seems like dairy makes a difference for me, when I'm on a yogurt kick my nails seem stronger.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2006

Jello (or any form of gelation) really works for me.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:59 PM on April 24, 2006

Gelatin. I've always had kickass nails (see above about using them as screwdrivers), until a year or so ago when I stopped eating gelatin-heavy kids' sweets by the bagful, in a bid to save my ailing teeth. Now my nails are thin, flaky and generally vile. It was either the gelatin, the sugar or the lurid artificial colours.
posted by Hogshead at 5:03 PM on April 24, 2006

I second Nailtiques. The only other time my nails were strong was when I was on prenatal vitamins, now I use Nailtiques and they really do strengthen my paper thin nails.
posted by hollygoheavy at 7:05 PM on April 24, 2006

Sally Hansen Nail Strengthener. I have really fine hair and nails that break really easily. I like the Sally Hansen strengthener stuff because it's not a shiny nail polish-like substance, it's just a clear liquid that dries quickly, and it's cheap.
posted by greenbean at 7:37 PM on April 24, 2006

Omega 3. Nuff said.
posted by rinkjustice at 7:52 PM on April 24, 2006

My wife likes to open packets of sugar-free Jello and sprinkle it over apples. Some fruit flavor like strawberry or cherry, usually. Helps her get the nails a bit stronger while avoiding actually making any Jello (which, for some reason, she detests; I can't help but feel this is borderline Un-American.)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:02 PM on April 24, 2006

Thin nails are a sign of a number of medical disorders, most commonly in the US, thyroid. Are we talking thin, but still on the normal scale or really abnormally thin?

Sorry, couldn't google up any pictures of medically abnormal nails (I suppose this is why you posted this here, duh).
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:54 PM on April 24, 2006

The thing that's really helped my nails is hoof ointment. Seriously. I was talking to a woman at work about nails a few months ago and she said that she'd been told about hoof ointment years back by a horse-y woman who'd told her that anyone who works with horses and regularly rubs ointment into their hoofs always has very strong nails.

I thought it was bunkum, but I bought some hoof ointment anyway and my nails are now the strongest and healthiest they've ever been. And they used to be thin and split really easily, both across the nail and also vertically, which was painful. A little dab of ointment on a paper towel, rubbed into my nails daily, and the difference is astonishing.

I use an English brand named Cornucrescine, but I think that any hoof ointment will do the same job.
posted by essexjan at 12:17 AM on April 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

I like Mavala Scientifique. As a guitar-playing guy I appreciate the fact that it makes nails harder without changing the appearance. Most shopping links are to UK places but it seems that there are a few in the States as well.
posted by teleskiving at 1:14 AM on April 25, 2006

i cant really do gelatin, as it is pretty fucking gross, and also it is too difficult to tell lif it is kosher (which i try to keep). Gelatin is partially made from the joints of either fish, pig, or cow/horse...but it is too difficult to know which animal it specifically comes from, as there is not enough label legislation. therefore...

you might want to look into getting a professional manicure at a salon that applies gel nails OVER your existing nails.

they are not acrylics. it is the new generation of nail care.

i never ever used any sort of "fake nails" in my life...until last winter when my nails started to easily splinter from the cold and shoveling snow and using my car in the ice. then i went to my local salon, and they recommended gel to me.

i was extremely hesitant, as i always thought 'fake' nails looked horrible, and had never used anything like them before. the manicurist talked me into it, and now i've been using the gel application for the past two winters, and am so thankful i found it. it's like nail polish on crack.

basically, it is like very thick, gel nail polish that they apply over your existing nails. it looks totally natural (you dont get that weird 'bubble' curve that is so obvious with acrylics), and hardens your nails completely. also, they do not harm your existing nail at all. they simply grow-out, and you get them filled in. usually the new set is about $150, and then regular maintenance (filling) is $60 (a bit sooner than every 2 months). you can also use polish over them (i dont), and acetone does not harm or compromise them at all.

however, i only have gel done in the winter when my nails become more brittle from the cold (usually in November), and then let them grow-out without the gel usually in March. Right now i am without my gel, and although my nails are back to normal strength, i miss the 'super strength' of the gel. You can peel oranges and open soda cans like a fucking superhero with those things on :)
posted by naxosaxur at 7:15 AM on April 25, 2006

« Older Bonnie and Clyde   |   Do you have an example of a well designed... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.