Ask The Beauty Editor: How Can I Stop My Nails From Breaking?

By Ashleigh Cometti
Collage / Julia Gessler

Dear Beauty Editor,

My nails are brittle and keep breaking. I seem to be able to get them to a certain length before them begin to split and flake. It’s so frustrating, especially when I’ve been working so hard to get them long and strong!

Is there anything I can


Damage Dilemma

Dear Damage Dilemma,

I feel your pain! Few things frustrate me more than a broken nail letting the whole squad down when you’ve been working on growing them out.

Don’t fret, help is at hand (quite literally). A few simple lifestyle changes are a good place to start, especially when it comes to loading up on B vitamins like biotin. Rather than rely on supplements, nosh on animal proteins like eggs, chicken and salmon. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, consider plant-based sources like nuts, seeds, spinach and kūmara. Biotin helps to promote the metabolism of protein-building amino acids which are essential for nail growth.

If you’re the type to DIY your manicure, ensure you always apply a base coat — better still, look for ingredients which are beneficial for weak nails and can stop them from breaking. Try the Sally Hansen Advanced Nail Care Hard As Nails, $11, to harden weak, thin or splitting nails. For a 10-Free formula, look no further than the Kester Black Miracle Treatment Base Coat, $35, a natural nail strengthener which doubles as a base coat, helping polish adhere better to nails while promoting healthy nail growth.

At the risk of sounding too obvious, do NOT pick or peel your manicure. It doesn’t matter whether it’s shellac or regular polish, picking at your nails is the fastest way to damage your nails. If you have a chip you’d like fixed, or want to return to bare, natural nails, either head to a trusted nail technician to have your manicure removed professionally or look for an acetone-free solution to gently soak off your nails. Try the Manucurist Green Flash Remover, $31.

A nail strengthener is also a worthy investment, and can be used regularly to fortify fragile nails. The most recent of which to pass across my desk is the new O.P.I Repair Mode Bond Building Nail Serum, $46, which launched last week. The formula harnesses the brand’s patented Ulti-Plex technology to repair nail keratin structure over time for smoother, stronger nails, with improved appearance of ridges and natural nail colour.

If your budget won’t stretch, coconut oil is an excellent natural nail strengthener — rub it on your cuticle and nails to treat cracked, fragile or brittle nails — and also does an excellent job of hydrating cuticles.

One of my favourite things to do every night before bed is apply a generous dollop of hand cream and rub cuticle oil into my cuticles. Keeping your hands and nails well moisturised is the best defence against breakage — experts say hydrated nail beds grow healthy nails that flex, not break. More than this, it can also extend the life of your manicure, and improve the appearance of your hands.

At night I use the Kester Black Self Love Cuticle Oil, $35, and the Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, $47. Always remember to use gloves when handling harsh chemicals (they’re bad for your nails, but for the skin on your hands, too).

While polish is pretty, if your nails are becoming more brittle, consider giving them a break from polish, gels, dip powders or acrylics. It’s a myth that nails breathe, but the process of removing and applying polish can be drying on nails, leading to discolouration and breakage.



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