Natural nail care and home recipes to keep your nails healthy

  • 2010-10-20
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN -  Many people complain about fragile nails, having brittle and vulnerable nail plate.
 There’s an ongoing debate about whether brittle nails are caused predominantly by a lack of protein or moisture in the nails. Consequently, most treatments for brittle nails are concerned with one of these two factors.
Brittle nails may be caused by many factors. They can be weak, thin, nails that peel or break easily, and/or grow slowly. Even with low impact, the nail can split into layers and tear.

Some experts say that vitamins, calcium and minerals are important for healthy growth and maintenance of strong nails.
Brittle nails may be hereditary, poor diet, excess use or even a nail disease. Using products that contain calcium will strengthen your nails, prevent peeling and speed the growth of your nails.

“A diet made up of fruits and vegetables to ensure vitamin and mineral absorption is beneficial for you and your nails. It should also incorporate whole grains, nuts and foods that are high in iron and protein. Drinking fresh-squeezed carrot juice daily will provide a first-rate source of calcium and phosphorus needed to strengthen your nails. Silica is necessary for the formation of strong healthy nails. It can be obtained by brewing up a cup of herbal horsetail and oat straw tea, or from a colloidal silicea supplement. Horsetail also is high in the amino acid L-cysteine. This amino acid is additionally found in the herb coltsfoot and contains sulfur, which is required in skin and nail growth,” says Elena Kalmykova, an experienced nail technician from Florence Beauty nail art studio in Tallinn.

“Avoid products such as hand creams that contain alcohol. These will dry nails out. Food containing fatty acids will help your brittle nails and strengthen them. Use of a calcium gel is great for dry, brittle nails. You’ll notice a difference immediately. Taking vitamins that contain vitamin A are great for your nails and hair. Eat healthy. If dryness is excessive see your doctor. Getting a manicure will help harden the brittle nails. You should have one done every other week,” continues Kalmykova.

Other experts claim that the common condition of brittle nails is often not definitively linked with any known cause. They also claim that natural medicine may be able to help strengthen brittle nails.
“Most conditions that affect nails are unrelated to nutrition; they are caused by a lack of oxygen associated with lung conditions, hemorrhage due to infection, or inflammation around the nail due to infection. If there is any question about what the problem is, it is important to get a diagnosis from a healthcare practitioner,” says nail technician Maria Seppel from Tallinn.

According to dermatologist Viktoria Nemtsenko, brittle nails are a common reason why patients consult a dermatologist. According to her, the incidence of brittle nails in the European and North American population is approximately 20%, and women suffer from nail brittleness twice as often as men.

“There is no concise definition of what constitutes a brittle nail, and there are no characteristic histological findings to help the clinician make this diagnosis. The presenting complaints of patients with brittle nails are often their inability to grow long nails and a description of their nails as soft, dry, weak, or easily breakable,” Nemtsenko stated.

“Nails are like hair in their structure, formed mainly of the element called carotin which is rich with protein. Often due to poor digestion or doing heavy work without taking proper care of the nails, they develop different types of problems and diseases. Nutrition can seriously affect the health of nails in a variety of ways. Iron deficiency may cause spoon-shaped nails. For years, some doctors have believed zinc deficiency causes white spots to appear on nails. In China, excessive selenium has been linked to nails actually falling out. One of the symptoms of brittle nails is frequent or easy breaking, cracking, splitting, or tearing of their nails. Actually, maintaining strong and healthy nails is not so difficult if you know your nail type. Each nail type is unique and needs to be taken care accordingly. Knowing your nail type will also help you to go for the right treatment if you have any nail-related problems.”

The main cause of brittle nails is believed to be frequent hand washing and drying. Exposure to household cleaning products may also contribute to brittle nails as these products diminish moisture in your hands. “Apply a moisturizing cream every time when you wash your hands. You can wear gloves when engaging in activities that are rough on your nails. Over-the-counter creams may also help,” says Nemtsenko.

Experts also say that just as you inherit the color of your eyes and hair, you can inherit brittle nails.
And some of the things you are doing can make those brittle nails worse rather than better.
Here are some tips from an experienced nail technician Anastasia Popova, how to take care of you nails and some necessary steps you can take to get healthy nails.

“First of all, using too much nail polish and not cleaning the nail polish off every now and again to let your nails breathe can cause your nails to become weak and brittle. Using too much polish remover which can zap the moisture from your nails can also leave your nails brittle. Secondly, certain foods can be eaten to help strengthen your nails. Eating more cold water fish, like Salmon, Herring and Mackerel will also help your nails. The omega-6 fatty acids found in these types of fish is what helps cure your brittle nails. One can also try adding cauliflower, soybeans, peanuts and other foods rich in biotin. This B vitamin helps prevent the cracking and splitting that is common with brittle nails.

Here is a home-made recipe that Popova shared with The Baltic Times

Aromatherapy isn’t just good for relieving stress and helping you sleep, but it can also help strengthen your nails. Even a 15 minute fragrant oil soak can do wonders for your nails. Lavender, bay and sandalwood are the most important essential oils that you will need to keep your nails healthy. Another type of oil could be sesame or soy which is also very useful for your nails.

 “Pour 6 ounces of either the sesame or the soy oil into a microwave safe bowl and microwave to heat. Do not overheat. You want the oil to be warm not boiling. I usually start with about 20 seconds on high and then add 10 seconds until I get a temperature that is comfortable for me.

Once you have warmed your oil, add 6 drops of each of the essential oils into the bowl. Since I’m going to be soaking my fingers, I use my fingers to lightly stir the mixture up. Soak for 15 minutes once or twice a week. Most of my clients told me that this recipe helped them to cure and recover their brittle nails.”