Nails can’t be made to grow faster, but you can do things to retain the strength of your nails, allowing them to grow longer without breaking. Specific elements of your diet and hand-care are critical components in growing longer nails.
Fingernails are useful for so many things – pulling out splinters, scratching mosquito bites, and protecting your fingertips when you slam them in car doors. How long your nails are is usually what you are used to, since whatever their length, you get used to utilising your hands that way as tools.
Your fingernails are made up of two components: the nail plate and the nail bed. The nail plate is the hard part of the nail that you can see, while the nail bed is the soft flesh underneath the nail that feels excruciating if you accidentally rip or bite your nail off too far up your fingertip.
How to get your nails to grow longer and stronger
Nails cannot be made to grow faster – they just grow at the rate they grow – but they can be made to grow stronger. You can help keep your nails strong by keeping them safe from breakage, to preserve the growth.
Fingernails generally grow about 5mm per month, with a high protein diet the best for keeping nails strong. If you find your nails break or split easily, try adding in far more protein to your diet, and you’ll notice over a few months, that they become really strong. This is also a trick for nail-biters – making your nails so strong you can’t bite through them is a good strategy for growing longer nails if all else, including your willpower, has failed.
How your nails grow
A healthy nail bed is required for healthy nail growth. The nail grows from the nail matrix, at the base of the nail, and are made primarily from a protein called keratin, which is dead tissue. You can’t make the nail that has already come out different – it just is whatever came out – but you can alter what comes out next, which starts with your diet, nail health, and nail bed.
You can’t make nails grow longer – or stunt their growth – with nail polish or vitamins or creams. Some substances will actually weaken your nails, despite how lovely and glossy they may look.
Tips for keeping nails healthy
- Keep your hands, especially around your nails, moisturised by massaging a drop into each fingertip regularly
- Don’t pick the skin around your nails
- Keep your nails as dry as you can, especially if you work with wetness – use gloves, towel off after putting your hands in water, don’t let them stay damp for long
- To file nails, keep them in a natural shape – slightly rounded or square – to avoid snags and breakage
- Try to avoid biting or picking nails
- If you have reduced circulation to the hands, get regular hand massages or self-massage to get more blood flow
- Don’t cut your cuticles (the skin that covers your ‘moons’)
- Be judicious with the chemicals you put onto your nails, and don’t soak nails in acetone – rub it onto the nail to remove polish, then wash thoroughly and moisturise
- If your nails become discoloured, see your dermatologist or doctor for advice – you may have nail fungus or another health condition that needs addressing
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