Do you ever feel like your nails aren’t long and strong enough to pull off some of the pretty nail art that you’re seeing everywhere? Fear not — healthier, longer tips are within your reach. All you need to do is show ’em a little TLC.
While your nails typically grow at around one eighth of an inch per month, their rate of growth can be affected by hormones, which is why pregnant women often report their nails growing faster than ever. Growth can also be influenced by the seasons — speeding up in the summer when it’s warm and there aren’t such harsh elements to contend with. Of course, like your hair, it also just depends on who you are.
“Everyone has an individual rate at which her nails increase in length, and that can’t be changed,” explains nail specialist Dr. Paul Kechijian, M.D. While experts say there isn’t one kind of food or a miracle pill that makes your nails grow crazy fast, there are measures you can take to help them along.
1. Maintain a proper diet.
As with all parts of your body, your nails are affected by what you eat — or don’t eat. Dr. Debbie Palmer, dermatologist and creator of Replere, advises noshing on protein-rich foods including beans, fish, and nuts for stronger, healthier nails, while celebrity manicurist Holly Falcone recommends incorporating biotin, Vitamin E, and fish oil into your diet.
2. Keep things neat and filed.
Similarly to your hair, keeping your nails properly clipped prevents damage and breakage, thereby aiding their growth. New York City dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky advises taking time to trim every two weeks, or more often if your nails already tend to grow quickly. If you frequently partake in activities that can harm your nails, such as rock climbing or lifting weights, keep an emery board on hand (see what we did there?) so you’ll always be able to file your nails smooth when necessary.
3. Take it easy with the gel manis.
You’ll never get longer nails if you don’t think about their safety. “To keep nails healthy, hydrate them and minimize the use of harsh chemicals and tools,” says Marsha Gordon, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology and vice chairman of the dermatology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. And beware of too many gel manicures. Not only can the UV light damage the skin around and below your nails, upping the risk of cancer, the polish can be tough to remove (read: it can take a lot of wear and tear to get it off).