If you have weak, thin or brittle nails eating Jell-O or taking gelatin capsules will NOT strengthen your nails! Your nails are composed of protein with a high sulfur content. The protein you consume is broken down into amino acids and used to build and repair muscles, organs and other protein structures like hair and nails.
Nail strength seems to be mainly affected by environmental damage, trauma to the nail bed or certain prescription drugs like steroids. Avoid using your fingernails as tools. This increases breakage and can cause the nail to lift or separate from the nail bed. Your nails are much more porous than your skin and can become ‘chapped’ and dry which can increase breakage. If your hands are exposed to water for extended periods of time on a regular basis (dishwashing, swimming, etc.) they are more prone to becoming chapped, so it’s a good idea to always wear gloves when washing dishes or doing housework to protect your nails. You can also use a cuticle oil or nail cream on the nails and cuticles (see below for recipe) to moisturize and prevent chapping. Nail polish and artificial nails will superficially protect your nails, and other than a slight possibility of irritation or allergy to some chemicals in polish, polish remover, glue and artificial nail products, there is no problem with using these products.
Your fingernails can also reflect nutrient deficiencies. If your nail bed is spoon shaped (depressed in the middle like a spoon) or pale rather than pink, it can be an indication of low iron levels in the blood. Nails can develop side-to-side ridges as a result of fever, inflammation or an acute short-term illness. Fine longitudinal ridges from cuticle to nail tip tend to develop with age and are totally normal. Protein malnutrition affects the health of the nails since protein is the primary building material of the nails. Biotin deficiency can also be seen in nails, though it is extremely rare.
When your nail or the underlying nail bed has been damaged, it will take approximately 9 months to completely grow out from your cuticle to fingertip. Other things, like white lines in the nail, occur because of damage to the base of the nail or an abnormal hardening (keratinization) of the nail during formation.
Follow these steps to make your own nail cream:
You will need:
- 1 cup of almond oil
- 2 ounces of beeswax
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of Castor oil
- Essential oil of your choice (for scent)
- Put all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and heat until just warm enough to melt the beeswax. Make sure to not over heat it.
- Pour 1 cup of warm water into a blender. Remove the small circular cap from the lid of the blender and switch it on at the lowest speed. As the blender is running, slowly pour the oil mixture and warm wax into the blender.
- While the blender is still running, add 5-10 drops of your essential oil. Continue blending until the entire mixture reaches a cream consistency.
- Once the mixture is blended, switch off the blender, scoop out the cream and place it in airtight containers. It is a good idea to sterilize the containers before filling them with the cream to avoid bacterial contamination. Before you seal the containers, make sure that the cream has cooled completely.
- Store the cream in a cool dry place (or the refrigerator). This will extend the life of your cream.
Apply this cream twice a day to keep your nails moisturized and strong.